The SoCal Venture Pipeline program is partnering with Pacific Western Bank to continue connecting early-stage startups with venture capital.
Now formally known as the SoCal Venture Pipeline powered by Pacific Western Bank, the program has matched new startups with investors since launching in 2021. Pacific Western will serve as its lead sponsor, joining continuing supporters Wilson Sonsini and KPPB LLP. The Pipeline originally only considered startups looking for Series A funding, but expanded to include seed funding in February. Alliance managing director Eric Eide said adding Pacific Western to the program will further help its startups navigate both Series A and seed fundraising.
“That's really been where we've seen a lot of founder demand,” Eide said. “The amount of founders applying has tripled since [adding seed funding]. There's a lot of interest, particularly amongst the VC community or network, to see high-quality, vetted deal flow.”
Since launching a year ago, the Pipeline has accepted 31 of its 247 applicants. As a rolling program, the selection committee reviews applications on a monthly basis. Companies must be tech-focused and based in Southern California. For Series A funding, Eide said they look for teams that have already raised $500,000 angel or seed investment and are looking to raise at least $4 million. He said companies have to show demonstrable traction at the seed level, have a compelling market opportunity, and have raised at least $250,000.
Eide said they work closely with the chosen founders to connect them to the Pipeline’s network of 200 venture capitalists. Joining the program as a new sponsor, Eide said Pacific Western Bank will help advise founders and secure capital. The Cove Fund venture partner JC Ruffalo, who volunteers to help the program’s founders, told dot.LA in an email that the Pipeline exposes venture capital firms to companies that they might not otherwise have a chance to connect with.
“The SoCal Venture Pipeline is supporting and building a legacy of tech and medtech innovation and growth which will create a more robust and stronger innovation ecosystem here in Southern California,” he said.
Pacific Western Bank SVP Mark diTargiani said the bank was drawn to the Pipeline’s wide reach across Southern California. For early-stage startups, the bank provides free banking services, high-yield checking accounts, and a bit of unsecured credit card debt. diTargiani said they have already begun giving advice to companies in the program and have also introduced new investors to the Pipeline.
“What we saw was an opportunity to help to build a community of early-stage startups throughout the L.A. ecosystem,” diTargiani said.
Despite the unstable market, there is plenty of capital for early-stage startups, diTargiani said. Though the funding environment has changed in recent months, Eide said people are still making deals—and the Pipeline’s investor network can help founders make important connections to get those deals.
“It's still a good time to be raising relatively even if it's a little bit different than the heady days of last year,” Eide said.
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