Why Moviepass' Co-Founder is Starting a Venture Studio for Human Performance
Hamet Watt, co-founder and former chairman of MoviePass and a board partner at Upfront Ventures, quietly launched a new venture studio, Share Ventures, earlier this year in Playa Vista with $10 million in funding. Now he is ready to share details, including plans to launch several companies a year – all focused on human performance, or what is usually referred to as wellness.
"We like to use human performance because it expands the definition," Watt told dot.LA. "It's not just things like yoga. It's sports tech, behavior science and human optimization."
Unlike a traditional VC firm that invests in other founders, a venture studio starts companies of its own. The small team at Share includes academics, scientists, and engineers, and counts IdeaLab's Bill Gross and former Nike president Trevor Edwards as advisors. Funding comes from Upfront, Alpha Edison, John Callaghan and Phil Black of True Ventures, Ahmed Al Mosa of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, and Art Coppola, former CEO of Macerich.
Watt says he has long been drawn to human performance because he sees a lot of untapped opportunities, which have only increased with Covid-19.
"In this post-Covid world a light is shining more brightly on all these things that need to be reimagined," Watt said. "There are opportunities in mental health that are much more acute than they've ever been."
Los Angeles has enjoyed a longstanding reputation as a place where wellness is prized and lately that has been reflected in startups like Headspace and FitOn that provide on-demand meditation and fitness classes. "There is a tribe in this L.A. community that is passionate about health and wellness," he said.
Watt says he is the only Black person he knows of running a venture studio and he says by virtue of his diverse network he can tap into talent others may have overlooked.
"You can't make money doing the same thing everyone else does," said Watt. "You can't fish in the same talent pond that everyone else does."
Watt co-founded MoviePass in 2011 and departed in the beginning of 2018, before the company flamed out in the fall of 2019. "I exited before the really crazy drama," he said.
The company, which offered unlimited trips to the movie theater, delighted consumers and terrified theater owners. Watt says he is now looking for similar all-you-can pricing plans that can work in wellness.
"I think some of the experience I've had with subscription models can apply to areas in interesting ways," Watt said. "Consumers love an unlimited value proposition."
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BAM Ventures, the early-stage, consumer-focused fund co-founded by corporate lawyer-turned-L.A. serial entrepreneur-turned-venture capitalist Brian Lee, has filed paperwork with the SEC indicating that it is in the process of raising a third fund with $50 million in dry power.
Lee and Shamin Rostami Walsh, BAM's managing director, declined to comment on the offering. Companies are barred by SEC regulations from "general solicitation" while they are raising capital, which includes speaking to the media.
The $50 million fund would be a considerable step up from BAM's $20 Fund II and $6 million Fund I, which provided early backing for buzzy consumer startups such as the video game maker Scopely and the trendy luggage direct-to-consumer company, Away.
But no investment has been more profitable than the firm's reported $150,000 pre-seed check to Honey, which turned into $45 million after the coupon startup was bought by Paypal for $4 billion last year. It is the sort of return VCs dream about and Honey's founders were turned down many times until they met Lee, who told dot.LA earlier this year that he invested after getting a "vibe" from co-founders George Ruan and Ryan Hudson at a panel where they were speaking.
"They knew exactly what they were building, and how they were going to get there," Lee said. "It gave us a lot of confidence to back them. Every time we met with them the numbers were growing, and we knew the future was very bright for Honey very early on."
Lee co-founded LegalZoom in 2001 and went on to team with celebrities to launch consumer brands, such as Shoedazzle with Kim Kardashian in 2009 and The Honest Company with Jessica Alba in 2011. Lee is also an investor in dot.LA.
Snap's voter registration efforts seem to be paying off.
Over 1 million Snapchatters have registered to vote using Snap as of Thursday morning, the Santa Monica-based social media and advanced camera company announced.
Proptech startup Pacaso emerged from stealth mode Thursday, aiming to make it easier for a larger swath of the population to own a second home, or at least a portion of one.
The company announced a $17 million seed round led by venture capital firm Maveron, with participation from Global Founders Capital, L.A.'s Crosscut and individual investors such as former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, real estate coach Tom Ferry, former Zillow executive Greg Schwartz, and Amazon CEO of Consumer Worldwide Jeff Wilke. Pacaso also raised $250 million in debt financing to purchase homes.