Wonder Ventures is Looking to Fund 3 New L.A.-Based Startups Within a Month

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.

Wonder Ventures is Looking to Fund 3 New L.A.-Based Startups Within a Month
"We thought this was an opportunity to put our money where our mouth was," said Dustin Rosen, managing partner of Wonder Ventures, who is overseeing the initiative along with investor Abha Nath.

One early-stage venture capital fund is launching a new initiative Tuesday: Helping Los Angeles entrepreneurs who have suddenly found themselves out of work as the coronavirus pandemic sideswipes the job market and freezes the amount of money flowing into startups.

Wonder Ventures, the Santa Monica-based firm that's carved a niche by writing checks to young companies below the radar of bigger VCs, has committed to fund at least three Los Angeles founders in the next month with checks starting at $100,000. The new WFH program -- which stands for Wonder from Home -- is aimed at those newly laid off from tech companies who have an idea they want to pursue.


"Those people are stuck at home by law and a bunch of great talent is not working, which creates an opportunity," said Dustin Rosen, managing partner of Wonder Ventures, who is overseeing the initiative along with investor Abha Nath.

Indeed, as unemployment has ripped through the U.S. economy and sent small businesses scrambling, there has been a great amount of uncertainty about whether venture investors are still eager to write checks. Many investors have been trying to project an air of normalcy, publicly insisting that they are still writing checks as the world reels from the novel coronavirus.

Whether they actually are – especially to companies not already in their portfolio – is another matter. Rosen saw this as "an opportunity to put our money where our mouth was."

Though Wonder Ventures has promised a minimum investment of $100,000, he says the check could very well be considerably larger given that the firm's average investment is between $250,000 to $500,000. The firm has deployed some of the $15 million of seed funding it secured in 2018 to startups such as financial services firm Tala and storage company Clutter.

Wonder has also partnered with the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP to incorporate and draw up funding documents for free. Interested founders simply have to complete a five-minute online application and will be selected on a rolling basis from now until May 3rd.

To apply, teams must meet three criteria:

  • There must be a minimum of two full-time co-founders who do not have other full-time roles.
  • One team member must be in L.A.
  • At least one member must be a full-stack developer.

Wonder Ventures aims to be the first institutional money into very young companies, making about 5-7 investments a year. With conferences cancelled and coffee chats out of the question, scouting new companies has become considerably more difficult during lockdown.

"We pride ourselves on meeting a ton of talent and it's hard to meet people right now," Rosen said. "This is an attempt to meet more founders because some of our traditional ways of doing that aren't feasible."

Rosen hopes that the ideas they fund now can one day blossom into the next iconic L.A. brands, when the coronavirus is a distant memory.

"We believe that these tough times will produce great companies," Rosen wrote in a blog post. "The best founders are not deterred by pandemics, but instead, are encouraged to make a better world. These founders are not hanging their heads because of a lay-off or furlough, but are enthused to take off and build their dream idea."

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This Week in ‘Raises’: Saviynt Lands $205M, Pagos Secures $34M

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow 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.

This Week in ‘Raises’: Saviynt Lands $205M, Pagos Secures $34M
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While it was a slow week of funding in Los Angeles, security vendor Saviynt managed to score $205 million that will be used to meet the company’s growing demand for its converged identity platform and accelerate innovation.

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Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow 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.

LA Tech ‘Moves’: Saviynt Gains New CEO, The FIFTH Taps Agency Veteran to Lead Creative Team
LA Tech ‘Moves’:

“Moves,” our roundup of job changes in L.A. tech, is presented by Interchange.LA, dot.LA's recruiting and career platform connecting Southern California's most exciting companies with top tech talent. Create a free Interchange.LA profile here—and if you're looking for ways to supercharge your recruiting efforts, find out more about Interchange.LA's white-glove recruiting service by emailing Sharmineh O’Farrill Lewis (sharmineh@dot.la). Please send job changes and personnel moves to moves@dot.la.

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Los Angeles’ Wage Growth Outpaced Inflation. Here’s What That Means for Tech Jobs

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Los Angeles’ Wage Growth Outpaced Inflation. Here’s What That Means for Tech Jobs

Inflation hit cities with tech-heavy workforces hard last year. Tech workers fortunate enough to avoid layoffs still found themselves confronting rising costs with little change in their pay.

Those national trends certainly touched down in Los Angeles, but new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that the city of angels was the only major metro area that saw its wage growth grow by nearly 6% while also outpacing the consumer price index, which was around 5%. Basically, LA was the only area where adjusted pay actually came out on a net positive.

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