Former SpaceX Engineer’s Platform for Makers of EV, Rockets and Air Taxis Raises $14M

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 and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

​First Resonance founders Neal Sarraf and Karan Talati.

Led by a former SpaceX engineer, First Resonance makes software for aerospace and electric car makers to manage their inventory, supply chain and manufacturing process.

Over the last year, the company has seen revenue shoot up 500% year-over-year and their customer base has doubled, according to the startup. This week, it raised a $14 million Series A to build out its flagship platform, ION.

CEO and co-founder Karan Talati wouldn’t share specific revenue figures but said two of the companies it works with, Santa Cruz-based Joby Aviation and Alameda-based Astra, went public over the last year which accelerated their demand for his company’s products.

“As their needs and their companies grow, our factory operating system is keeping up with them and growing into new needs,” Talati said.

While the three-year old company was originally created to service aerospace manufacturers, Talati and the team decided to target manufacturing across several industries in order to maximize its revenue potential.

“What all these companies have in common is some of these trends of electrification of moving towards (3D printing), to having kind of cyber-physical systems,” he said.

First Resonance’s team has grown from seven full-time employees earlier this year to 20 now, and there’s plans to hire more engineers. The company is based in Downtown LA but continues to work remotely during the pandemic.

Some of the changes coming to the ION platform will include tools to help manufacturing plants manage their supply chains, including allowing them to track inventory, parts purchasing and receipts. ION also has a function that can analyze these and other supply chain data to give builders a forecast of what they need to do in order to meet deadlines.

First Resonance has raised $19.3 million since its 2018 launch following this round. The Series A was led by new investor Craft Ventures, a heavy-hitting VC firm based in San Francisco. Craft Ventures has invested in and sold companies including Dapper Collectives (Brud), Bird, CloudKitchens, financing platform Affirm and Airbnb. The firm was also an early investor in SpaceX, where Talati worked as an engineer for three years. Existing investors Wavemaker Partners, Fika Ventures, Stage VP and Blue Bear Capital, which led First Resonance’s $3.5 million seed round in February, also participated in this round.

Talati said First Resonance isn’t targeting an IPO or sale any time soon, but said Craft is an important new backer because “they have an investment in a fast-scaling software-as-a-service business” like First Resonance.

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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.