LA Tech Updates: MuckerLab Looking for Startups, Omaze Raises $30M

Francesca Billington

Francesca Billington is a freelance reporter. Prior to that, she was a general assignment reporter for dot.LA and has also reported for KCRW, the Santa Monica Daily Press and local publications in New Jersey. She graduated from Princeton in 2019 with a degree in anthropology.

LA Tech Updates: MuckerLab Looking for Startups, Omaze Raises $30M

Here are the latest updates on news affecting Los Angeles' startup and tech communities. Sign up for our newsletter and follow dot.LA on Twitter for more.

Today:

  • Omaze Raised $30M to Expand its Celebrity-Driven Charity Fundraising Platform
  • MuckerLab Accelerator Application is Live

MuckerLab Accelerator Application is Live

Santa Monica's Mucker Capital, which focuses on investing in high-growth startups based outside of Silicon Valley, is looking for startups to join its MuckerLab accelerator.

The program partners with 12 to 15 companies each year, working one-on-one with founders on a weekly basis providing hands-on support. Mucker invests between $100k to $200k with follow-on capital available. Founders do not have to be in Los Angeles and can work remotely.

Since its inception a decade ago, MuckerLab portfolio companies have gone on to raise more than $5 billion in outside funding since graduating. Standouts include Honey (raised $39M and later acquired by PayPal for $4B), ServiceTitan (raised a total $400M to date), and Emailage (raised $15M and later acquired by LexisNexis for $500M).

Applications are reviewed year-round, but the next set of applications is due September 25 and applicants are encouraged to apply early.

Omaze Sells Celebrity Meet-and-Greets for Charity. It Raised $30M

Omaze Logo

Omaze, the online platform selling celebrity meet-and-greets, trips and prizes for charity, closed a $30 million Series B round by FirstMark Capital.

Founded in 2012, Omaze allows users to enter to win experiences with celebrities like Michelle Obama and Oprah, and prizes like a custom tiny home or a Lamborghini blessed and signed by Pope Francis.

The Culver City-based company works with the Charities Aid Foundation America to distribute funds and says it's raised over $130 million for over 350 charities. In two years, the company says, it has grown its revenue by 500%.

"We're grateful to close this round during a challenging year and fundraising environment," co-founder and CEO Matt Pohlson said in announcing the news Thursday. "These funds come at a critical inflection point for the company."

The raise follows a $12 million Series A round in 2018. With the funding, Omaze will continue to invest and scale its home and car categories. It'll also accelerate plans to expand internationally, beginning in Western Europe and Asia.

The announcement also includes two new board members, Celtics lead owner and co-founder of Causeway Media Partners Wyc Grousbeck and Penni Thow, former executive VP at SB Projects and the founder and CEO of Copper.

Additional investors of the funding round include Causeway Media Partners, BDMI, Tusk Ventures, Inherent Group, Gaingels, Penni Thow's Copper and talent manager Guy Oseary.

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Venture Firm BackStage Capital Reduces Staff to 3 Employees

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

Venture Firm BackStage Capital Reduces Staff to 3 Employees
Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

Venture firm Backstage Capital laid off nine employees, reducing its staff to just three.

Managing partner and founder Arlan Hamilton announced the layoffs Sunday on her “Your First Million” podcast. General partners Christie Pitts and Brittany Davis, along with Hamilton, are the only remaining employees, TechCrunch reported. The move comes only three months after the Los Angeles-based firm said it would only fund existing portfolio companies.

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A New Tide of LA Startups Is Tackling the National Childcare Crisis

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

A New Tide of LA Startups Is Tackling the National Childcare Crisis
Courtesy of Brella

The pandemic exacerbated a problem that has been long bubbling in the U.S.: the childcare crisis.

According to a survey of people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers conducted by the city’s WiSTEM Los Angeles program and shared exclusively with dot.LA, the pandemic exposed a slew of challenges across STEM fields. The survey—which consisted of 181 respondents from L.A.County and was conducted between March 2021 and 2022— involved respondents across medical fields, technical professions and science industries who shared the pandemic’s effects on their professional or education careers.

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MaC Venture Capital Raises $203M for Its Second Fund

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is dot.LA's Editorial Fellow. Prior to that, she was an editorial intern at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

MaC Venture Capital Raises $203M for Its Second Fund
Courtesy of MaC Venture Capital

While venture capital funding has taken a hit this year, that hasn’t stopped MaC Venture Capital from raising $203 million for its second fund.

The Los Angeles-based, Black-led VC firm said Monday that it had surpassed its initial $200 million goal for the fund, which dot.LA reported in January, over the span of seven months. MaC said it expects to invest the capital in up to 50 mostly seed-stage startups while remaining “sector-agnostic.”

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