Female-Led Emmeline Ventures Launches, Backs Crypto Wallet Startup

Harri Weber

Harri is dot.LA's senior finance reporter. She previously worked for Gizmodo, Fast Company, VentureBeat and Flipboard. Find her on Twitter and send tips on L.A. startups and venture capital to harrison@dot.la.

From left: Emmeline Ventures co-founding partners Azin Radsan van Alebeek, Naseem Sayani and La Keisha Landrum Pierre.
Courtesy of Emmeline Ventures

Emmeline Ventures—a new all-female, minority-led venture capital firm—has set up shop in Los Angeles, with its first check going to a local early-stage crypto startup.

The new venture firm, based in L.A. and Phoenix, is still in the process of securing its initial fund, with a goal of raising $5 million to $8 million. The fund’s first close is expected at the end of April and will bring in as much as $1.6 million, a spokesperson for the company told dot.LA.

While Emmeline is new to the scene, its partners are not. The firm’s three co-founders—Sahara Reporters chairwoman La Keisha Landrum Pierre, Digital Oxygen founder Naseem Sayani and investor Azin Radsan van Alebeek—say they had collectively invested in 13 pre-seed and seed-stage startups before teaming up.

Along with the new fund, Emmeline announced its first deal—contributing $30,000 toward a seed round for Clutch Wallet, a Los Angeles-based startup that offers a digital wallet for the Ethereum blockchain. “Having female investors fund our product that will generate more wealth for women is a strategic full circle of women helping women,” Clutch Wallet founder and CEO Bec Jones said in a statement.

Emmeline plans to back as many as 20 female founders via its initial fund, targeting startups that “help women, in particular, manage their health, build their wealth, and live in a safer, cleaner world.” But what, exactly, does that mean?

“For us, a cleaner, safer world includes everything from what we wear and eat, to what

we watch, read, and listen to,” a spokesperson for Emmeline told dot.LA in an email. “We believe everything from supply chains to software to content systems can be safer, more bias-free, and more inclusive of the humans who engage with them—and this is where we invest.”

Speaking of inclusivity, it’s not very common in the world of venture capital. The VC industry is instead known for its homogeneity, as it’s largely led by men who primarily invest in male founders. Last year, only 2% of the funds deployed by venture capitalists in the U.S. went to solely female-led startups, according to a recent PitchBook report.

“Our goal is to have an active role in changing the venture investing landscape,” Emmeline partner Landrum Pierre said in a statement. “How? By funding companies that have a meaningful, positive impact on how women lead their lives in the future.”

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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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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.