Ads or a Check? With Miroma Ventures, Startups Get to Choose

Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.

Ads or a Check? With Miroma Ventures, Startups Get to Choose

At first glance, Broadway shows and early-stage startups would appear to have little in common. But ad mogul Marc Boyan thinks the way they're marketed is similar. He wants to take the expertise he gleaned leading campaigns for high-profile shows like "Hamilton" and "The Book of Mormon" to tech.


"The thing there with the Broadway stuff is that they create huge brands with small budgets," Boyan said. "Imagine if you could do that for tech startups."

Boyan announced Thursday that his company, The Miroma Group — one of the largest marketing services companies in Europe — is launching a new venture fund through Miroma Ventures, headquartered in Los Angeles and London.

The firm says it will distribute $100 million over the next few years to back purpose-driven consumer brands at the seed or Series A stage in the form of traditional checks, as well as marketing services. In other words, instead of just money, startups can opt to get access to Miroma's vast marketing engine, which in addition Broadway shows has powered campaigns for brands such as Adidas, Disney, L'Oreal and Heineken.

"Some may not want cash, some may only want cash," Boyan said. "We become partners more than suppliers and we have skin in the game."

Miroma Ventures has already invested in more than 50 media and consumer businesses around the world, including early-stage investments in Classpass and Pinterest.

After living in London, Boyan moved from New York to Beverly Hills during the pandemic and sees Los Angeles as an ideal hub for melding marketing and startups.

"You're getting access to a lot of talent – influencers, artists and celebrities," he said. "And we're so close to Silicon Valley. In London, I'm not close to anything but Berlin."

Will Schmitt, who co-founded Trail Post Ventures, a growth equity firm specializing in early-stage consumer investments, has been tasked with leading Miroma's venture strategy.

"We see a lot that we're excited about in terms of the early ecosystem and startups and innovation here within L.A., especially within food, beverage — anything kind of health and wellness, beauty, personal care," Schmitt said. "It's really a mecca for that."

The team at Miroma Ventures also includes Sir David Michels, former Deputy Chairman of the British retailer Marks & Spencer; Kelly McCarthy, former SVP at LVMH and GM/Sr Director at Nike; Justin Stefano, former co-founder and CEO at Refinery29; and Patrick Yee, former CMO of Daily Harvest.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story said Boyan was a self-described billionaire but his representatives later clarified that he is not in fact a billionaire.

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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.

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