We're looking for Southern California startups in the media, entertainment and gaming industries that have a product on the market and have raised less than $1 million in funding. We want your thoughts on the most promising, innovative, forward-thinking startups in these sectors to pitch at dot.LA's inaugural media summit.
Guest judges / advisors from the venture capital community will be announced soon. Please contact Annie@dot.LA with any questions. Thank you!
Apply to Attend the Summit Here
This week's startup pitch showcase focused on female founders in honor of Women's History Month. The founders of OYA FEMTECH Apparel, ofthenight.club and Struct Club each gave five-minute pitches about their company, followed by advice from M13 Investor Jawhara Tariq and LDR Ventures Partners Co-Managing Director Maxine Kozler. The event was hosted by dot.LA's Chief Correspondent & Host and Head of Video Kelly O'Grady.
Startup Pitch Showcase: Female Founders feat. Oya Femtech Apparel, ofthenight.club and Struct Club
OYA FEMTECH Apparel According to women's health experts, the average legging makes women twice as likely to develop vaginal health issues. OYA is tackling this feminine health challenge head on by engineering leggings for women's health, style, functionality and comfort. Think: breathable, silky, leak absorbent, and curve shaping. OYA is on a mission to create technical clothes that support feminine health. OYA hopes to give all women more control over their health and create safe spaces to discuss feminine care.
ofthenight.club In the over-saturated market of subscription services, "Of The Night'' elevates the model of a "party-in-a-box." Founded by two female experiential producers, Of The Night embodies the magic of themed events and individually packages this magic for evenings spent inside. Since our debut, Of The Night has delivered 300+ party packages with 12 unique package themes; provided paid opportunities for out-of-work entertainers; spotlighted local brands and small businesses — many of whom lost their physical spaces during the pandemic — and raised over $5000 for nonprofits. Instead of mourning the loss of what we could no longer do, Of The Night's nationwide deliveries celebrate new and innovative ways of gathering.
Struct Club is a vibrant community of fitness instructors who craft impeccable workout plans to fierce playlists that drive peak workout efficiency, effectiveness and inspiration. Thousands of instructors worldwide come to Struct Club as their go-to platform to create and monetize playlist-driven workout plans. Spinning, running, HIIT and Sculpt enthusiasts looking to slay their fitness goals can find on-the-beat workouts to their favorite tunes in our app. Download Struct Club on the App Store today to access select workouts by our top featured instructors with matching music, integrating directly with your Spotify or Apple Music account.
About the Advisors:
Maxine Kozler, co-managing director of LDR Ventures
Maxine Kozler, Co Managing Director of LDR Ventures
Maxi is the Co-Managing Director of LDR Ventures, a Los Angeles based female led venture capital firm. Maxi's expertise includes: early stage capital raising, deal structuring and syndication, entertainment, intellectual property, licensing, branding, marketing and PR/social media. She invests in and advises founders at the angel and seed stages to grow their businesses from proof of concept stage to full use of their capitalization. Investments and Advisory roles include: Thrive Market, sweetgreen, Territory Foods, junzi kitchens, Shaka Tea, Sourse, Moku and Parachute Home.
Maxi also gives her time to the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship Advisory Council at Cal Poly University, as an Executive and VC in residence at the Hot House Incubator at Cal Poly, as a Pod Leader for Declare (fka Parity Partners) and as a mentor for SheWorx and the Black Girls Making Millions Academy founded by Mahisha Dillenger.
In addition to investing, Maxi spearheads events in LA, SF and NYC with other female investors to teach women how to invest at the Angel and Seed levels in order to address the funding disparity of capital that goes to Female Founders.
Jawhara Tariq, investor at M13
Jawhara Tariq, Investor at M13
My path to venture was non-traditional. I began my career working in nonprofits and philanthropy, where I spent my days trying to understand the systems that affect the average American's access to the most basic necessities. I take these experiences with me as an investor at M13 and am looking for founders who are trying to change the world in ways that are equitable, accessible, and have effects on large populations.
Investors have a large responsibility. We are given the opportunity to support great ideas that have the potential to turn into paradigm shifts. I am looking for founders who are unstoppable forces; the entrepreneurs who have the audacity to dream up a world that looks, feels, and operates differently than the one we live in today.
M13 is about stars that shine brighter together. This is the perfect metaphor for the special community of investors, founders, and operators that have come together to build innovative solutions to some of the world's largest problems.
Kelly O'Grady, chief correspondent & host and head of video at dot.LA
Kelly O'Grady, Chief Correspondent & Host and Head of Video at dot.LA
Kelly O'Grady is dot.LA's chief host & correspondent. Kelly serves as dot.LA's on-air talent, and is responsible for designing and executing all video efforts. A former management consultant for McKinsey, and TV reporter for NESN, she also served on Disney's Corporate Strategy team, focusing on M&A and the company's direct-to-consumer streaming efforts. Kelly holds a bachelor's degree from Harvard College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. A Boston native, Kelly spent a year as Miss Massachusetts USA, and can be found supporting her beloved Patriots every Sunday come football season.
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When Tony Rice II was 17, he was pulled over by the police, who pointed a gun at his head. He said his first reaction was to look over at his younger brother in the passenger's seat, terrified.
Years later, he was pulled over again and this time the officer asked him if he was on parole.
"Unfortunately, situations like this happen too often to people that look like me," Rice, who is Black, said. "And a part of me thinks I'm lucky because others weren't."
Rice told his story about what led him to found a company that developed a platform for government agencies to file and track complaints or compliments about police officers during dot.LA's most recent Startup Pitch Showcase Thursday that highlighted startups that have diverse and underrepresented leaders. Rice was joined by executives from three other startups, Kilo, Gleam Network and StartupStarter.
The startups were offered advice from judges Redonna Carpenter Woods, senior vice president and market executive at Bank of America, Ajay Relan, partner at Slauson & Co. and Camden McRae, co-founder and investor at Industrious Ventures about how to develop their pitch in the hope of getting funding. But the stars of the show was the startups themselves.
Rice said government entities, including police oversight agencies, can use the Unarmed platform on their websites for citizens to file complaints or compliments about police officers. The cases then enter into a dashboard where officials manage the case. Citizens are also able to track their case through the system.
"This is the real deal not just for people that look like you and I, but this is for the safety and wellness for everyone," Carpenter Woods said.
Rice is seeking $500,000 in funding to hire full-time employees.
Amanda Bender, founder of Kilo, said it was her experience as a therapist and her relationships with male friends that led her to develop an app for men to track their emotional fitness. While she said the market is flooded with apps that focus on physical fitness, there is a lack of apps focused on mental health for men that speak directly to them.
"We've specifically designed Kilo for its core audience," Bender said. "We've created an app to transform men into happier and healthier humans."
The app, which is still in development, uses nine markers, like sleep, motivation, mood, workout and libido, where a user rates each marker to increase their own self-awareness and to receive personalized insights.
The company is seeking $600,000 in funding to hire full-time staff.
The judges were interested in how Kilo would market to men who might not be open to improving their mental health.
GLEAM Network is a nonprofit, volunteer organization that mentors and offers leadership training to underserved communities in the restaurant and foodservice industry.
Founded nine months ago by Sanjiv Razdan, former COO of Sweetgreen, GLEAM has ambitions to scale quickly and grow globally.
"The demand for our services is even greater than we anticipated and what's stopping us from global growth is funding," GLEAM's Rosemary Staltare said.
GLEAM is seeking $150,000 to fund a new technology platform that will help match mentors with mentees. With that money, it hopes to expand the number of mentees it works with to 500.
Jose Barrera, founder and CEO of StartupStarter, sees opportunity with his social network for startups. All businesses are now internet businesses, he said.
"This is true whether you're trying to launch a mining company or a high-tech startup, the same principles apply that is you have to attract customers, convert customers, pay your employees, basically you have to open your computer, enter the grid," Barerra added.
The network has different membership levels for founders, service providers and investors.
Its goal is to democratize entrepreneurship through efficiency and convenience.
StartupStarter has begun working with startups because there is a single model, however Barrera also sees the business expanding to other verticals like restaurants because every business needs to know how to build a better website, for example.
Barrera is seeking $1.3 million in funding to develop a mobile app to expand to millions of users and to hire marketing staff.
About the Companies:
Unarmed is a technology company serving the public sector. Our mission is to create a safer world for all civilians. Our vision is to be the global leader in civilian-focused solutions. Our subscription-based, software as a service (SaaS) platform consists of an online portal where civilians can prepare, file and track their compliments and complaints ("cases") about law enforcement. Those cases then seamlessly flow into a dashboard, where oversight officials are able to manage the case until it is closed.
StartupStarter is a professional network for startups and the communities that support them. We are a collective of founders, investors, subject matter experts and service providers on a mission to make launching and scaling a successful business accessible to anyone. We're united by the idea that every business is now an internet business, and we strive to give the most user-centric and efficient experience by providing our members with the innovative resources, products, services or connections that best meet their needs.
GLEAM Network is a volunteer network whose purpose is to provide mentorship and leadership development to the underserved and underrepresented community in the restaurant and foodservice industry. With a bold vision to be a truly global and the most effective mentoring network in the industry, our organization provides low / no cost access to all programs, including executive leadership training, 1:1 mentoring and biweekly learning circles helmed by the industry's most inspiring leaders. At GLEAM we believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to learn from engaging with others and to build expertise in leading effectively.
Kilo is an app for men who want to be their best selves, an app to track emotional fitness with powerful data like quality of mood, energy, libido, relationships and sleep on a daily basis to unlock actionable insights and cultivate growth in order to improve happiness and mental health. Building better hu[man]s.
About the Judges:
Redonna Carpenter Woods, senior vice president and market executive at Bank of America
As the SVP & market executive for the L.A. coastal market of commercial business banking, Redonna leads a team of financial professionals who deliver strategic, integrated financial guidance and solutions to companies with $5 million to $50 million in annual revenue.
Redonna has enjoyed a career in banking that spans over 35 years. She joined Bank of America Merrill Lynch in 2011. Prior to that time she held key leadership positions in SBA Lending, Consumer and Commercial Banking.
Redonna is the Executive Sponsor for Greater LA LEAD for Women and Multicultural Women Ready to Lead. She is also a member of the Black Professional Group (BPG), Power of 10, and the Black Executive Leadership Team (BELT). Redonna is an active volunteer in her community and has served in many leadership roles and as a member of several nonprofit boards. A few of these organizations include: The Wellness Community – Valley/Ventura, Moorpark College Foundation, Conejo/Las Virgeness Future Foundation, and United Way of Ventura County, Big Brother/Big Sister - Ventura County and YMCA, Thousand Oaks/Conejo Valley. Redonna is a current board member for Discovery Cube, LA and Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Ajay Relan, partner at Slauson & Co.
Ajay is an investor, entrepreneur, and community builder. Prior to Slauson & Co., Ajay was a founding partner at Queensbridge Venture Partners. With a keen focus on brand building and storytelling, Ajay's passion lies in identifying trends and engineering culturally relevant brands.
A lifelong Angeleno, Ajay has established a business portfolio grounded in community. His most recent collaboration, Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen, has become a staple, facilitating productivity and collaboration in diverse neighborhoods across Los Angeles.
In 2012, Ajay founded #HashtagLunchbag, a nonprofit program who's supporting feeding 150-plus cities around the globe. He went on to establish the Living Through Giving Foundation, a platform empowering the creation of programs engaging diverse groups of people to contribute to various causes in their local communities.
Camden McRae , co-founder and investor at Industrious Ventures
Camden McRae is a co-founder and investor at Industrious Ventures, an early-stage fund focused on industry transformation. He currently serves on the Executive Committee for BLCK VC, as well as the Stanford Angels & Entrepreneurs of Southern California. Camden co-founded a company that led him to become a Fellow at Lightspeed Venture Partners and he later worked as a Fellow at Alchemist Accelerator. Most recently, Camden was a principal at Noname Ventures. He received a BA in psychology from Harvard University and a JD from Stanford Law School.
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