LA Venture: UTA's Sam Wick On Building Celebrity Startups

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+ Shift.com, 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.
LA Venture: UTA's Sam Wick On Building Celebrity Startups

On this episode of the L.A. Venture podcast, hear from Sam Wick, head of United Talent Agency Ventures (UTA). Wick has served in senior positions at MySpace, AOL, mp3.com — and most recently as the executive vice president of Maker Studios.


The UTA Ventures team focuses on building companies and investing in the intersection of entertainment, commerce and technology. Their portfolio, which includes MasterClass, Cameo and Patreon, reflects this.

UTA is neither a typical incubator or accelerator. Rather, Wick says "we really have a market thesis in terms of where we think the growth is."

He emphasized the importance of trusting "talent," which he believes are excellent creators and collaborators, with their finger on pulse of their audience.

"We have to understand that the talent have a real feel for what makes sense for their audience," Wick says, emphasizing the importance of the connection between audience and creator.

"Part of what the companies are doing is borrowing that brand equity" that talent creates, and stresses that "at its core, it is the talent creating a business or product that connects with their audience."

Wick says when "dealing with incredibly creative, passionate, and talented individuals who have their own point of view" that "having [a] soft touch, and that it's a collaborative kind of back and forth with them" matters most.

Wick discusses working with Seth Rogen to launch his cannabis company, Houseplant, and discusses his love of music, offers tips on curating connections with audiences, NFTs and his take on the future of media.

Sam Wick is the head of UTA Ventures.

"I think that the lesson from both an investor and a building perspective is just how hard it is. So every time I sit down with one of our clients and we talk about building a business, I always say 'if you're willing, you know, to walk this path, I'm excited to walk it with you'." —Sam Wick

dot.LA Engagement Intern Colleen Tufts contributed to this post.

Want to hear more of L.A. Venture? Listen on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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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.

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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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Aavrani Co-founder Rooshy Roy On Creating Your Own Success ‘Timeline’

Yasmin Nouri

Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.

Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.

AAVRANI Co-Founder Rooshy Roy
Photo courtesy of AAVRANI

Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, Rooshy Roy said, as the only Indian girl in school, she spent a lot of time feeling like an outsider and like she wasn’t meeting others’ expectations of “how an Indian girl should behave.”

Flash forward 20 years, and the differences Roy was once ashamed of are now the inspiration for her skincare company.

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