‘It Was Too Good to Pass Up’: Why Anna Barber Is Moving from Techstars to M13

Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.

‘It Was Too Good to Pass Up’: Why Anna Barber Is Moving from Techstars to M13

Anna Barber, who has served as a mentor to countless early startup founders and headed the Techstars LA Accelerator for the past three years, is leaving to become the first head of M13's venture studio and a partner at the firm.

"I was not looking for a new role, but you literally couldn't design a more perfect opportunity for me," Barber said. "It was too good to pass up."

Unlike traditional VC funds that invest in other founders, a venture studio starts companies of its own. The model has been increasingly popular and the Santa Monica-based firm rolled out its studio, Launchpad, last year. Its first company is Rae, a line of affordable women's wellness products available at Target, Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters.

Barber says the studio model is appealing, especially at M13, because the firm can use its extensive network of connections with corporate partners to help young startups get a toehold with consumers.

"I think we're in a time where it's easy to start a company but hard to build a great company," she said. "It's easier to get to market, but harder to compete."

Barber said she was attracted to M13 because it truly wants to support founders, and most of its partners were operators before they were investors. Co-founders Courney and Carter Reum started the firm after they sold their spirits business. Gautum Gupta, a San Francisco-based partner, started NatureBox, a digitally native brand of snacks.

"They have a high degree of empathy for founders," Barber said.

Barber will be one of three female partners and she said the firm's efforts to have a diverse workforce and invest in underrepresented founders was also important. She also cited M13's culture as a reason for making the switch.

"Everyone is really nice," Barber said. "It's filled with kind people. That's something I look for."

Barber started her career as a corporate lawyer and was a strategy consultant at McKinsey & Company. She moved to tech in 1999, just as the dot-com bubble was bursting, as an executive at two ecommerce startups, Petstore.com and Rentanything.com.

Barber will retain her role as a partner at the Fund LA, the early stage fund of local founders and operators, which she helped start earlier this year. (M13 is a limited partner.) She also hopes to continue to be a mentor for Techstars, noting that members of the accelerator often say they are part of "Techstars for life."

During these COVID times, starting a new job comes without the rituals of figuring out a different commute or decorating a new workspace. When Barber starts her new role December 1st, she will be working from the same place she has since the pandemic began – her house in the Valley.

"I'll be logging into Zoom with a different email address, essentially," Barber said. "It doesn't feel like the massive shift that it actually is."


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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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Motional Links With Uber to Make Robotaxis a Reality

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Image courtesy of Motional

Motional, a self-driving taxi startup backed by Hyundai, will partner with Uber to bring its robotic taxis to cities throughout the United States within the next decade as part of its push to get people more comfortable with the concept of taking a ride in a driverless electric vehicle.

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