LA Tech Updates: Techstars Music Accelerator Seeks Startups; Wrapbook Gets $3.6M in Seed Funding; PatientPop Raises $50M

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.

LA Tech Updates: Techstars Music Accelerator Seeks Startups; Wrapbook Gets $3.6M in Seed Funding; PatientPop Raises $50M
Wrapbook is seeking to be the leading payroll processing platform for the entertainment industry.

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:

  • Applications Are Open for Techstars Music Accelerator Program
  • Wrapbook, Provider of Payroll for Productions, Unwraps $3.6 million in Seed Funding
  • PatientPop, a Digital Health Marketing Firm, Raises $50 million

    PatientPop Raises $50M as Demand for Online Healthcare Rises   

    As doctors and hospitals are scrambling to get their services online, PatientPop, a company that does just that has raised $50 million as investors bet heavily on new forms of delivering healthcare.

    The Series C funding is led by HLM Venture Partners with participation from previous investors Toba Capital, Transformation Capital and Silicon Valley Bank. And it includes new investors like Commonfund and Vivo Capital.

    "This is more important than ever as providers quickly adapt their digital strategy and presence to attract and retain patients, and seek the technology and tools they need to successfully operate their practice throughout the COVID-19 pandemic," said co-founder and co-CEO of the Santa Monica-based company, Luke Kervin.

    PatientPop works with the patient's electronic medical record and electronic health record to connect them to doctors that best fit their needs. It also allows patients to track and book their appointments.

    According to FairHealth's monthly telehealth tracker in May calls went up 9.19% compared to last year.

    The platform also works with doctors to use SEO in order to have them grow their online presence and increase bookings. It also offers PatientPop Pro to make it easier for doctors to manage their marketing efforts.

    "PatientPop will no doubt continue to help doctors adopt new technologies that are critical to practice success," said principal of Vivo Capital, Nathan Dau in announcing the raise.

    Techstars Music Accelerator Aims for Diversity in 2021

    By Nadya C/ Shutterstock

    Applications for the 2021 Techstars Music Accelerator open today.

    The L.A.-based program will begin on February 16th, 2021 and culminate in a demo day in mid-May. It will accept applications until November 13th.

    "Now, more than ever, we need to do our part to support incredible entrepreneurs, regardless of their cultural background, economic status or physical location," wrote program director Bob Moczydlowsky in a blog post.

    Techstars Music 2021 will be virtual, meaning participating startups don't have to relocate to L.A. The entire selection process will be conducted by video conference.

    "As investors," Moczydlowsky's post continues, "we think this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a gigantic business in music and live events. We also think it is the perfect opportunity to build a more equitable and diverse music business."

    To that end, the program is committing to having 50% of its CEOs be "diverse," with a focus on Black, LGBTQ+ and female founders. This benchmark will remain in place for future cohorts as well.

    The Techstars Music program is a collaboration between Techstars and several groups in the music business. This year, partner companies include Warner Music Group, Sony, Peloton and Amazon Music. Such members provide capital to the program and also help run it. Participants also get access to many other mentors from the music, tech and venture capital worlds.

    Prior program participants have collectively raised over $90 million after the program, Moczydlowsky wrote.

    The application portal can be found here.

    Wrapbook, Provider of Payroll for Productions, Unwraps $3.6 million in Seed Funding 

    Wrapbook is seeking to be the leading payroll processing platform for the entertainment industry.

    Wrapbook, which is seeking to be the leading payroll processing platform for the entertainment industry, announced Tuesday it has raised $3.6 million in seed funding. Equal Ventures led the round with participation from Uncork Capital and 4S Bay Partners.

    "Wrapbook is the easiest way for employers to compliantly pay employees for a week of work," Wrapbook co-founder and CEO Ali Javid said in a written statement. "We are here to help employers and employees be paperless to assist with COVID-19 and be compliant [with] AB5 in entertainment and across project based industries."

    The company previously raised from One Planet Ops and NYU Innovation Venture Fund in March on a SAFE (simple agreement for future equity) at a $5.5 million valuation that converted during this seed round, according to Pitchbook.

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    Behind Her Empire: Oui the People Founder Karen Young on Seizing Opportunity

    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.

    Behind Her Empire: Oui the People Founder Karen Young on Seizing Opportunity
    Courtesy of Karen Young

    Karen Young launched Oui the People in 2014 with only $1,500 in her pocket from her Brooklyn apartment. Today, the company is the fastest growing Black-owned beauty brand in the U.S.

    On this episode of Behind Her Empire, Young talks about the role of an entrepreneur, the importance of doing research before launching a brand, and how her immigrant upbringing influenced her business drive.

    Read moreShow less

    Autonomy Expands Vinfast Partnership to Replace Traditional Leasing Model With Subscriptions for Car Ownership

    David Shultz

    David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

    Vinfast car
    Vinfast

    Despite unveiling its third and fourth U.S. production models at the LA Auto Show last week, auto manufacturer Vinfast has yet to deliver any electric vehicles here in the United States. But this doesn’t appear to be a concern for Santa Monica-based Autonomy. On the same day Vinfast unveiled its new VF6 and VF7 platforms at the auto show, the EV subscription company announced that it had purchased another 2,500 Vinfast VF8 and VF9 vehicles in a deal worth roughly a hundred million dollars, according to Autonomy CEO Scott Painter.

    The deal is part of Autonomy’s plan to upend the traditional leasing/buying models for car ownership and replace them with a subscription model that relies less on credit and long term contracts. The idea is to lower the barrier for entry into the EV market for customers who may have previously been priced out. In order to do that though, Autonomy needs cars. Lots of them. Vinfast seems to have turned a corner in their supply chain and manufacturing, or at least the company thinks it has. The 2,500 new vehicles are expected to be delivered over the course of 2023, and will serve markets in California, Arizona, Florida, Texas and Washington state.

    Back in August, Autonomy went on a buying spree, purchasing 23,000 electric vehicles from 17 different manufacturers. That deal included 400 of Vinfast’s VF8s and VF9s. The expansion of the partnership—2,100 additional vehicles—seems to signal that Autonomy believes in the car company and its tech. “Part of our earlier order included an order for some Vinfast cars,” says Painter. This is Vinfast coming back to us and saying, ‘This is how many cars we can get you over 2023.’“You're going to hear a lot of these [announcements] with every OEM. Everybody's got different volumes and different orders. But this is the next bounce in the process for us.”

    Painter says the company has driven the Vinfast products and feels confident enough to move forward with the deal. Nonetheless, since the cars are so new, there’s no way to validate their long term reliability or how much demand they’ll get from current subscribers. But the influx of equipment will also serve as a nice testing ground for Autonomy as they integrate their telematics and software into a new platform. “The ability to know where the car is—latitude, longitude, mileage, and how it's being driven—is the key to unlocking much of the subscription value proposition,” Painter says.

    Despite its roots in Vietnam, Vinfast has its US headquarters in Los Angeles and is manufacturing its vehicles in a plant in North Carolina. Which should make its VF8 and VF9 platforms eligible for at least some of the rebate money in the Inflation Reduction Act. With a comparatively low starting price of $40,700 the VF8 is a particularly interesting entree into the U.S. market. But that price doesn’t include the cost of the battery.

    Vinfast, for better or worse, has adopted a unique strategy in which users will lease their car’s battery over time. This model should allow owners peace of mind that if something goes wrong with the battery, they won’t be on the hook to cover the entire cost of replacement. But with EV sticker prices so high to begin with, it’s unclear how consumers will respond to the added monthly payment of either $169 or $219 per month, depending on the model. Autonomy, however, bought the cars outright with battery included, and customers won’t have to pay an additional fee every month if they choose a Vinfast car subscription.

    All of this makes Vinfast one of the few OEMs that’s confident it will be able to deliver large-ish numbers of vehicles next year. A proposition that bodes well for Autonomy: “Good for them,” says Painter. “They fixed some of their supply chain issues and got their factories up and going.”

    Here's How Much It Costs To Charge An Electric Vehicle

    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.

    car driving by city
    Photo by Adrian N on Unsplash

    Although zero-emission vehicle use continues to grow and California dominates the market, there’s still factors hindering its ability to achieve mass adoption. These can include reservations about performance, safety and quality – but also, concerns regarding range anxiety and the cost of charging.

    So, let’s try to break down how much it costs to charge an electric vehicle in California.

    How we calculated cost

    It is difficult to pinpoint one figure that will apply to every EV driver. Even within a single state, there’s variables – such as mileage driven, the type of vehicle and battery, plus the type of charger as well as if the car owner is opting to fuel up at a public station versus installing a personal home charging point.

    But the general formula for calculating how much charging an electric car will cost is pretty simple: divide your car’s maximum range by its range per kWh, then multiply it by the average cost of electricity per kWh.

    That figure, range per kWh, is an estimate that can vary greatly depending on vehicle and also driving factors. More intense driving, say, uphill in the wind, would lower your overall range per kWh since the car needs more power.

    Regardless of driving conditions, though, you’re always likely to pay more to charge an EV in California than other parts of the country.

    California’s average electricity cost in August was about 27 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). Compared to the national average price of around 16 cents per kWh, that’s quite high. In part because California’s “fixed” costs of operating its electric system are used to offset public programs including wildlife mitigation.

    Based on data from the Department of Tax and Fee Administration and Energy Commission, as well as the U.S. Energy Information Administration we also calculated the average California driver spends around $230 on gas monthly, or around $2,760 per year.

    red Tesla car Tesla Model 3. Photo: Tesla

    Tesla

    So, say you drive a Tesla Model 3, one of the most popular Tesla cars.

    Tesla says the standard 2022 Model 3’s long-range battery has a top range of 350 miles per full charge, and while it doesn’t report range per kWh, auto analysts at Edmunds estimate it to be around 25 kWh/100 miles or 2.5 miles. All told, it should cost about $29.36 to fully fuel a Model 3 in California – but bear in mind that you can only use Tesla’s network of proprietary Superchargers unless you have an adapter.

    Or, as the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimated, charging a Tesla Model 3 costs about $550 per year.

    Tesla’s 2022 Model S sports car, on the other hand, requires more charging for higher performance. It costs $39.05 per charge, or around $1 per 25 miles.

    Teslas are more expensive to charge than most of their counterparts in part because of their Supercharger network – which most drivers will find a worthy trade-off, given that they’re fast, and can charge an EV from 0% to 80% in about 30 minutes.

    An R1T in Rivian Blue at the main entrance to the plant in Normal, IL.\u200bAn R1T in Rivian Blue at the main entrance to the plant in Normal, IL. Courtesy of Rivian

    Rivian

    If you’re one of the few driving a 2022 Rivian R1T electric truck, it’ll cost around $17.66 per charge. Rivian’s battery models have varying range, but on the high end, contain 400 miles on a full charge. The DOE estimates that driving 25 miles in a 2022 R1T will cost about $1.68 or about $1,000 annually.

    Rivian’s other model, the R1S, is almost identical in price (it costs about 20 cents less than the R1T, by our estimates).

    black and white cars side by side 2023 Nissan Leaf charging.Photo: Nissan

    Nissan Leaf

    A 2022 Nissan Leaf’s base model comes with a 40 kWh battery pack. The DOE estimates this version of Nissan’s affordable commuter car has a maximum range of 149 miles, and gets about 3 miles per kWh, pretty much on par with the overall average for electric vehicles.

    Using this information, we can estimate that the Nissan Leaf will cost around $13.41 to charge once. The DOE calculates that a 2022 Leaf’s annual fuel cost will total $650.

    File:2023 Ford F-150 Lightning.jpg - Wikimedia Commonscommons.wikimedia.org

    Ford

    Ford’s much-hyped electric F-150 all-wheel drive truck debuted last May to much fanfare, including a test drive from president Joe Biden.

    The F-150 Lightning has a max range of 230 miles, and on average a higher fuel cost than competing electric trucks like Rivians. On average, it’ll cost roughly $12.67 for one charge, though the DOE estimates this will amount to around $1,050 annually.

    This year Ford also released an electric Mustang, the Mach-E SUV. The standard Mach-E has a top range of 247 miles on a full charge, and gets about 3 miles per kWh. One full charge of the Mach-E will cost around $22.23, and the DOE surmises that’ll add up to a yearly charging expense of roughly $700.
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