The 2020 dot.LA Startup Awards

The 2020 dot.LA Startup Awards

Voting has ended for the awards. Thanks to everyone who participated. Watch them live as part of the dot.LA Summit. Tickets are available here.

We are so excited to announce the nominees for the inaugural "dot.LA Startup Awards 2020," a celebration of the most innovative people and companies in LA's startup and tech community. The event will be hosted live on Wednesday, October 28th to close out the dot.LA Summit. We will recognize L.A.'s rising tech companies and leaders.

Vote for who you think should win each category!

Descriptions for each nominee are below.

The winners will be announced live at the dot.LA Summit.

Pivot of the Year: Celebrating startups that changed their business model and strategy in the face of adversity

Curative: Founded in January '20 with the initial aim of developing a new test for sepsis. The company pivoted to COVID-19 testing in early March as supply chains became strained and the need for a new testing process arose. Curative now processes 1 million tests per week.

Quantgene: The company typically offers AI-powered blood test systems for early cancer detection. But as the COVID-19 pandemic persisted, the company leveraged its computing systems and logistical skills to build a new business line with Hollywood studios and individuals seeking antibody tests.

Swoop: Before the pandemic, Swoop was a high growth marketplace startup focused on group transportation: connecting consumers with limousine charter operators. When their group transportation business and the events industry halted, they developed software that limousine charter operators, their suppliers, could utilize.

PRISM Bags: This company planned to launch their signature product, a woman's work bag. Once COVID-19 hit, they were able to pivot and go to market with a new offering: a small mini bag well suited for woman SIP during a pandemic - with pockets for masks etc.

WELL Health Inc.: Funded and engineered the Rapid Release Program in March '20, which allowed health systems to manage urgent COVID-19 patient communications at scale. The program helped health systems create "virtual waiting rooms" so that patients could wait in their cars, instead of a crowded waiting room, for appointments.

Social Justice Award: Recognizing individuals who championed the distribution of opportunity in tech

Alejandro (Alex) Guerrero, Principal at Act One Ventures: Spearheaded the Diversity Term Sheet Rider, giving under-represented investors and founders better access and connections in the venture world. As of mid-September, 21 firms have adopted the Rider.

Candace Walker, Co-Founder of Just US app: Created a hands-free voice control app that notifies your designated contacts when you've been stopped by police.

Derek Smith, Founder of Plug-In South LA: Created a tech startup community and accelerator program for entrepreneurs from under-represented backgrounds; produced the Urban Tech Connect conference.

Lolita Taub, Co-Founder and GP at The Community Fund: First-generation Latinx operator and investor that launched a $5 million early-stage fund to invest in community-driven companies.

Miki Reynolds, Executive Director, Grid110: Leads a no-equity, LA-based accelerator for underrepresented founders; "Whether it's navigating the social unrest in our country or launching a program specifically for founders in South LA, she is an expert at bringing people together"

Rising Entrepreneur: Celebrating emerging entrepreneurs who have a pioneering spirit and promising future

Cristina de la Peña, CEO & Founder of Synapbox: Her company has booked $1.2m in pre-launch revenue; her product empowers content creation with 'audience non-conscious behavior analysis and AI.' As the world moves to a more content based society, knowing 'what' works and 'why' it works gives you the power to compete for audiences' attention.

Jessica Nouhavandi, Co-CEO of Honeybee Health: Jessica's company is adding transparency to the Pharma industry. Honeybee has been accredited in nearly 40 states.

Ksenia Yudina, CEO of UNest: As a solo female founder, Ksenia has raised a Seed Round, Seed extension, and Series A Round from investors like Tim Draper and Anthos Capital to democratize college savings and investing tools for parents. She also recently led her company's acquisition of LittleFund, which doubled UNest's user base.

Morgan Debaun, Founder of Blavity: Morgan has created a next generation media company to serve Black consumers. She has penetrated the VC markets - which is a unique challenge for women of color, and become part of the fabric of the start-up ecosystem.

Robert Luo, CEO & Founder of Mi Terro: Robert founded a sustainable fashion startup that creates usable products with materials that would otherwise go to waste. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, Forbes Under 30 Scholar, and the youngest entrant into the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame at USC Marshall School of Business.

Rising Startup: Celebrating startups that are growing, innovating, and delivering new products/services to market

Openpath: A property-tech firm that recently announced a $36 million raise to accelerate its disruption of keycards and bring its touchless-entry technology to more doors, gates, elevators and lobby check-ins.

Pipe: A new platform that offers non-dilutive financing to SaaS companies through an instant cash advance against the full annual value of software subscriptions. In June, Pipe raised $60 million in equity and asset financing as an extension to its February Seed Round of $6 million.

PlayVS: Connects online games with official school administration and branding, elevating Esports from hobby to school-sponsored activity. So far schools in 23 states have signed up, and Parnell said they're on track to get every state in the US on board by 2022. $96 million in total startup funding through Series C Round.

Outer: 1-year old D2C outdoor furniture brand grew sales by 21x from Q1 to Q2 2020; the #1 fastest growing DTC brand according to SimilarWeb. Raised $4.3 million Seed Round from Mucker Capital.

Wave: Entertainment technology company that turns performers into digital avatars and puts them on virtual stages. Wave hosted The Weeknd Experience on TikTok in August, which pulled in more than 2 million total unique viewers. Raised $40 million to date.

Entrepreneur of the Year: Celebrating an entrepreneur who has made a notable achievement this year.

Alex Canter, CEO and Co-Founder of Ordermark: software company helping restaurants operate better; expanded virtual kitchen endeavors, bringing on thousands of restaurants nationwide to make delivery-only meals under Ordermark's brands.

Andrew Peterson, CEO and Co-founder of Signal Sciences: Sold his company to Fastly in August for $775 million: the largest enterprise tech exit for an LA startup. Fastly is also setting up a $50 million retention pool of RSU's to give out to Signal Sciences employees.

Doug Hirsch and Trevor Bezdek, Co-Founders and Co-CEOs of GoodRx: Founded company in 2011 that has helped Americans save more than $20 billion on prescription drug expenses. Built a new model for healthcare, grew the business over many years, and finally IPO'd in 2020.

Imran Khan, Co-Founder and CEO of Verishop: Launched social-commerce app with 600 brands/sellers, 1 year after founding the company. Raised $30 million at a valuation of around $100 million

Shivani Siroya, CEO and Founder at Tala: Named to Forbes 40 Under 40; Led company's growth, extending $1 billion in micro loans to 4 million customers in emerging markets. Last valued at $700 million.

Startup of the Year: Celebrating a company that has shown great development and potential to impact the global community.

GOAT: Fast-growing global luxury shoe and apparel retailer. 30 million members. Raised $100 million Series E Round at $1.75 billion valuation. Launched first brand campaign during NBA Playoffs.

GoodRx: First Los Angeles tech company to go public this year. Market Cap is $22 billion (as of 10/06/20). Prescription marketplace platform earned $54 million in profit for the first six months ending in June, a 74% increase.

Headspace: Raised $100 million in debt and equity. 65 million users in 190 countries. Downloads have doubled since March. Headspace for Work product has seen a 500% increase.

Scopely: Acquired FoxNextGames from Disney in January. Raised $400 million Series D in March at $1.9 billion valuation and is in talks with investors to raise at least $200 million at $3 billion valuation.

TikTok: #1 top grossing app on iOS App Store globally in Q2 2020. The hit mobile app hit 53.5 million weekly average users in the US (100 million MAU) in Sept., up 75% from the start of the year. Valued between $20-$30 billion.
🚁 One Step Closer to Air Taxis in LA
Image Source: Joby Aviation

🔦 Spotlight

Joby Aviation, a pioneering electric air taxi company, has achieved a significant milestone by successfully flying a hydrogen-electric aircraft demonstrator for 523 miles with only water as a byproduct. This groundbreaking flight showcases the potential for emissions-free regional travel using vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, eliminating the need for traditional runways. The company's innovative approach combines its existing battery-electric air taxi technology with hydrogen fuel cells, paving the way for longer-range, environmentally friendly air travel.

For LA residents, this development holds exciting implications for future transportation options. Joby's technology could potentially enable direct flights from LA to destinations like San Francisco or San Diego without the need to visit conventional airports, offering a cleaner and more convenient alternative to current travel methods. The company's progress in both battery-electric and hydrogen-electric aircraft positions it at the forefront of next-generation aviation, promising to revolutionize urban and regional mobility.

Notably, Joby Aviation has already made strides in Southern California by securing an agreement with John Wayne Airport earlier this year to install the region's first electric air taxi charger. This strategic move sets the stage for LA to be among the initial markets where Joby will launch its electric air taxi service. With plans to commence commercial operations as early as 2025 using its battery-electric air taxi, LA residents may soon have access to a fast, quiet, and environmentally friendly mode of transportation that could significantly reduce travel times and traffic congestion in the region. In the not too distant future, LA might find itself in an identity crisis without traffic and excess smog 🤞🤞.

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

LA Venture Funds

Download the dot.LA App

Fuel Innovation: 7 Unforgettable Team Building Experiences in LA
Image Source: Discover LA

In today's competitive business landscape, team building activities have emerged as a crucial tool for fostering a positive work environment, enhancing productivity, and crucially, improving employee retention. Studies have shown that such activities help employees feel valued, with one report indicating that 93% of those who felt appreciated were more motivated at work. Importantly, team building events may improve retention rates, as employees who feel connected to their colleagues and company culture are more likely to stay long-term. With these benefits in mind, let's explore some of the most engaging and effective team building activities available in Los Angeles.


Image Source: Modern Luxury Angelino

Pickleball is a fantastic team bonding activity because of the easy-to-grasp rules and gentle pace make it perfect for everyone, regardless of age or fitness level. The game thrives on communication and teamwork, as players must collaborate and strategize to outplay their opponents, boosting team cohesion. Plus, the lively, fast-paced action sparks friendly competition and laughter, creating a fun and spirited atmosphere that brings everyone closer together. Los Angeles boasts numerous pickleball courts that are easy to rent if you have your own equipment. If you need additional assistance organizing your pickleball outing, there are plenty of full-service companies ready to handle every detail for you.

Resources: Pickle Pop, Corporate Pickle

Escape Room

Image Source: The Escape Game

Escape rooms are a great way to build camaraderie. They require participants to work together, combining their problem-solving skills and creativity to overcome challenges and puzzles. The immersive and time-sensitive nature of escape rooms fosters collaboration and communication. Additionally, the shared experience of tackling complex tasks and reaching a common goal helps build trust and foster positive emotions among colleagues.

Resources: The Escape Game, 60Out

Day Trip to Catalina Island

Image Source: Love Catalina

Catalina Island is a perfect day trip for a team because it provides a break from the usual work environment, allowing team members to relax and connect in a new setting. Shared experiences during the trip, such as exploring new places and participating in fun activities, help build stronger relationships and foster a sense of camaraderie. There are numerous team-building activities such as an arboreal obstacle course, an island tour, scavenger hunts and more.

Resources: Catalina Island Group Activities

Top Golf

Image Source: Topgolf

Topgolf is an excellent team building event because it provides an inclusive, relaxed atmosphere that accommodates players of all skill levels, fostering personal connections and improving team morale. The unique blend of competition and entertainment creates an ideal setting for building trust, enhancing communication, and revealing hidden skills among team members. Additionally, Topgolf offers structured team building packages with guided activities, discussion prompts, and lessons on culture, change, collaboration, and strategy, making it a versatile and effective platform for strengthening relationships and boosting overall team performance.

Resources: Topgolf El Segundo

SoFi Stadium Tour

Image Source: Discover LA

A SoFi Stadium tour offers a unique, behind-the-scenes experience of one of the world's most advanced sports venues, allowing team members to explore exclusive areas like premium suites, team locker rooms, and the player tunnel together. The tour provides a shared, memorable experience that can foster camaraderie and spark conversations among team members, regardless of their interest in sports. Additionally, the stadium's state-of-the-art features and impressive architecture can inspire creativity and innovation, while the group setting encourages interaction and collaboration, making it an engaging and enjoyable activity for teams of various sizes and backgrounds

Resources: SoFi Stadium Group Tours

Corporate Volunteering

Image Source: L.A. Works

Volunteer work serves as an excellent team building activity by uniting employees around a shared, meaningful cause, fostering a sense of purpose and collective accomplishment. It provides opportunities for team members to collaborate in new ways, often revealing hidden strengths and leadership qualities that may not be apparent in the regular work environment. Additionally, engaging in community service can boost morale, enhance the company's reputation, and instill a sense of pride among employees, leading to improved workplace relationships and increased job satisfaction.

Resources: Habitat for Humanity, L.A. Works, VolunteerMatch

Corporate Improv Sessions

Image Source: Improv for the People

A corporate improv class encourages spontaneity, creativity, and quick thinking, skills that are valuable in the workplace. It promotes active listening and collaboration, as participants must work together to create scenes and respond to unexpected situations, fostering better communication and trust among team members. Additionally, the playful and often humorous nature of improv helps break down barriers, reduces stress, and creates a shared positive experience that can improve team morale and cohesion long after the event.

Resources: Improv-LA, Groundlings, Improv for the People

🎬 Paramount and Skydance Are Back On
Image Source: Paramount

Happy Friday Los Angeles! Hope you all had a fantastic Fourth!!

🔦 Spotlight

Paramount and Skydance Media have rekindled talks to merge after negotiations abruptly halted in June. The proposed deal, contingent on approval from Paramount’s board, aims to combine Paramount’s extensive media holdings—including CBS, MTV, and Nickelodeon—with Skydance’s film expertise showcased in hits like "Top Gun: Maverick." This merger signals a potential transformation in the media landscape, positioning the new entity to compete more effectively amid challenges from streaming services and the decline of traditional cable TV.

Led by Shari Redstone, Paramount’s controlling shareholder via National Amusements, the deal represents a pivot towards revitalizing Paramount’s strategic direction amidst financial struggles and shareholder concerns. The involvement of major investors like RedBird Capital Partners and David Ellison underscores the financial backing aimed at stabilizing Paramount’s operations and addressing its $14 billion debt burden. Importantly, the agreement includes provisions to protect National Amusements from potential legal challenges, addressing previous hurdles that stalled earlier negotiations.

The deal also includes a 45-day period for Paramount to explore alternative offers, highlighting continued interest from other potential buyers like Barry Diller’s IAC and media executive Edgar Bronfman Jr. This flurry of activity underscores the significant stakeholders’ interest in Paramount’s future and its potential as a key player in a rapidly evolving media industry.

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • Sidecar Health, a startup that offers personalized health insurance plans to businesses that allow members to see any doctor and pay directly at the time of service, raised a $165M Series D led by Koch Disruptive Technologies. - learn more

LA Venture Funds

Download the dot.LA App