LA Venture: Mantis VC’s Jeffrey Evans on How Influencers Can Boost Young Companies

Minnie Ingersoll
Minnie Ingersoll is a partner at TenOneTen and host of the LA Venture podcast. Prior to TenOneTen, Minnie was the COO and co-founder of $100M+, an online marketplace for used cars. Minnie started her career as an early product manager at Google. Minnie studied Computer Science at Stanford and has an MBA from HBS. She recently moved back to L.A. after 20+ years in the Bay Area and is excited to be a part of the growing tech ecosystem of Southern California. In her space time, Minnie surfs baby waves and raises baby people.
​Mantis VC's Jeffrey Evans
Image courtesy of LA Venture

On this episode of the LA Venture podcast, Mantis Venture Capital co-founder and partner Jeffrey Evans discusses how celebrities can benefit venture capital firms and what makes a good founder.

Evans co-founded Mantis VC alongside electronic music duo The Chainsmokers—Alex Pall and Drew Taggart—and Milan Koch. Investing out of its second fund, the firm focuses on consumer tech, media, entertainment and blockchain technology.

Evans, who previously founded TigerText and launched his own record label, said his desire to help support young tech founders drew him to the venture capital world. He and Koch reached out to Pall and Taggart after reading about their interest in investing in an article in Forbes.

“I had this theory that if I partnered with the right influencer—that had real social capital—that it could create an edge,” Evans said.

Mantis partners with other funds to finance seed and Series A fundraising rounds. Its investment strategy, Evans said, is not to be the lead investor, but to be the second-biggest check in early rounds. The firm’s recent investments include fintech company Tres, the Web3-based Integral Treasury and e-commerce platform PriceOye.

Celebrities can lend VC firms their social capital and influence to help create opportunities for companies, Evans said. While some celebrity-backed venture funds rely on big names solely as a “vanity” marker in promoting the business, Evans said The Chainsmokers are actively involved in the fund. They will personally reach out to potential investors of Mantis-backed companies to explain why they invested in them and why people should join the team. That kind of hands-on work, he said, helps support their founders and bolster their investments.

“I really look at [Pall and Taggart] as entrepreneurs and founders who happened to build the business of The Chainsmokers into a great and successful, highly profitable business,” Evans said. “Now, they're utilizing that to build other businesses around it where they can focus their time and effort.”

Prior to his work at Mantis, Evans co-founded TigerText, a messaging system where texts disappeared after they were read. Evans said his time working at the startup taught him how to maneuver through business challenges. Now, he said those lessons help him assist Mantis’ founders. Evans compares good founders to “Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner”—people who can hit the ground running and sprint through the obstacles.

“If at any point in time you stop, you will be eaten and dead,” he said. “But if you keep running long enough, and keep working through it, at some point in time—you don't know when it's gonna be—you're gonna hit the ground. When you hit the ground [and made it], you’re over the horizon before you know it.”

Click the link above to hear the full episode, and subscribe to LA Venture on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA Social and Engagement Editor Andria Moore contributed to this post.

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

Mullen Automotive Pays Nearly $20 Million to Settle Lawsuit with Qiantu

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

Mullen Automotive Pays Nearly $20 Million to Settle Lawsuit with Qiantu
Image Courtesy of Mullen Automotive

Like a zombie from the grave, Mullen Automotive’s electric sports car grift lives once more. Earlier this week, the Southern Californian company announced that it had resolved its contract disputes with Chinese manufacturer Qiantu and would begin to “re-design” and “re-engineer” the DragonFLY K50 platform for sale in the United States.

On the surface (or if you just read the press release) this would seem to be excellent news for the bedraggled Californian EV startup. But the saga of the Mullen/Qiantu partnership is long, and in the context of their shared history, the deal’s terms look considerably less favorable for Mullen.

Read moreShow less

“Millions of Dollars Completely Wasted”: Without Neuromarketing, Tech Firms’ Ads Get Lost in the Noise

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.

“Millions of Dollars Completely Wasted”: Without Neuromarketing, Tech Firms’ Ads Get Lost in the Noise

At Super Bowl LVII, advertisers paid at least $7 million for 30–second ad spots, and even more if they didn’t have a favorable relationship with Fox. But the pricey commercials didn’t persuade everyone.

A recent report from advertising agency Kern and neuroscience marketing research outfit SalesBrain is attempting to answer that question using facial recognition and eye-tracking software.

Read moreShow less