LA Venture Podcast: Buck Jordan of WaveMaker Labs

On this week's episode of L.A. Venture, hear lots of insights on equity crowdfunding from Buck Jordan. He's raising $50-$100K a day, mostly on SeedInvest, for the robotics and food companies coming out of WaveMaker Labs.

Jordan also addresses the dramatic changes coming to the food industry, and why WaveMaker is so focused on the application of robotics to this industry in particular.

"The best investments I think come from the really hard problems," he says. "There's not a bigger problem right now or an industry that's more under siege than the food industry is."


Even before COVID struck, he said, the food industry was a very difficult business.

"Restaurants fail faster and more often than startups," he says. "This is an industry that's under massive strain from all areas. There's rising labor costs. There's rising food costs. Real estate costs is going crazy [...] And most of those problems I mentioned are really well served by automation."

Robotics is uniquely poised to solve these problems, he says, because of recent advances in technology, as well as a massive drop in costs. Robotic arms that cost around $100K in 2015 are now selling for $1,000, he says.

" All of a sudden, really only in the past couple of years, the entire problem of automating low-cost labor is relegated to more of a software problem and less of an expensive hardware problem."

Jordan also shares his ideas about equity crowdfunding, corporate innovation and how seed stage companies can take advantage of corporate partners.

Click the playhead to hear the full interview, and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts to hear more from L.A. Venture.

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On this week's episode of LA Venture, hear from Marcos Gonzalez, the managing partner at Vamos Ventures, a seed-stage venture fund which invests in Latino and diverse founders. Over half of L.A. County is Latino. A relatively new fund, investments are in the range of $100,000 to $500,000. Seems like a great time to be investing in this community! And, Vamos is hiring...

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El Segundo-based telemedicine technology provider Cloudbreak Health and Florida-based UpHealth Holdings, a digital healthcare provider, announced they will combine and go public via a SPAC in a deal that values the combined companies at $1.35 billion.

Named UpHealth, Inc., the new company aims to streamline online health care by becoming a single provider of four different services: telehealth, teletherapy, a health care appointment and management system and an online pharmacy.

UpHealth runs healthcare platform Thrasys Inc. and MedQuest Pharmacy, along with two other behavioral health companies. The merger with Cloudbreak, which under the pandemic expanded their interpretation services to remote medicine, will give the new company a foothold in almost 2,000 hospitals.

"What we wanted to do was form a business that could really be a digital infrastructure for health care across the continuum of care, right from home to hospital," said Jamey Edwards, the co-founder and executive director of Cloudbreak. Under the agreement, he will become the company's chief operating officer.

GigCapital2 expects the merger transaction to close at the start of Q1 2021. UpHealth will be publicly traded under the ticker "UPH" on the New York Stock Exchange. UpHealth's integrated care management platform serves over 5 million people, and is expected to reach 40 million over the next three years, according to the company.

Jamey Edwards, Cloudbreak

Jamey Edwards, co-founder and executive director of Cloudbreak

COVID-19 caused a meteoric growth in the use of telehealth services. In February, 0.1% of Medicare primary visits were provided through telehealth. In April, that number was nearly 44%, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"Key stakeholders have seen and responded well to the benefits that telemedicine can bring, but they need a more comprehensive, integrated solution," said Al Gatmaitan, who has been named the co-chief executive officer of UpHealth. "This is what UpHealth focuses on, the adoption of digital health solutions well beyond the pandemic crisis."

The deal with the blank check company GigCapital2 gives the two digital health companies access to a wider network. UpHealth and its family of companies operate in 10 countries and their pharmacy has 13,000 e-prescribers in the U.S.


UpHealth will use the Cloudbreak platform as part of their global telehealth services to provide patients with round-the-clock care under a variety of specialties, including telepsychiatry and tele-urology. UpHealth also has contracts internationally, to provide country-wide care in India, Southeast Asia and Africa.

Edwards joined Cloudbreak in 2008 when it went from public to private. It has raised $35 million in venture funds, most recently in the first quarter of this year scoring $10 million from Columbia Partners Private Capital.

Ryan Edwards, the co-founder of Happier Camper, said he's asked all the time if his company leans on influencer marketing to promote their vintage-style trailers beloved by millennials.

With a waitlist six months out and demand growing from hotel-weary travelers, he said it isn't a priority yet.

"We almost don't need to," said Edwards.

That's because the $25,000 to $50,000 custom trailers have been a hit with a loyal fan base, and rising demand during the pandemic has only helped. Orders for compact trailers at the lower price end, including Happier Camper's 75-square-foot camper, are growing as newbie road trippers look for COVID-safe travels.

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