Alliance Blog

Celebrating Founder Fundraising Success: SoCal Venture Pipeline Alumni Reception

The Alliance hosted a SoCal Venture Pipeline Alumni Reception that brought together founders from across SoCal to celebrate their successes, learn, build community, and have some fun. The event was hosted at BioscienceLA in Culver City and was supported by Pacific Western Bank who is the title sponsor of the SoCal Venture Pipeline, and The Phillips Hayes Group at UBS, which supports the Alliance’s VC engagement programs and events.  We organized the Alumni Reception for three main reasons.

First, we wanted to recognize and celebrate founder success.

We recognize the incredibly difficult job that founders have, especially when going through the fundraising process, so we wanted to take a moment to celebrate their success and encourage founders to continue to do the hard work of building their business. Now in its second year, the SoCal Venture Pipeline program has seen a number of the founders in our network get funded, which is amazing and worth celebrating – their success is also our success! Thus far, founders in this highly selective program have raised over $61M in venture capital, despite an overall slowdown in venture deals this past year. That is worth celebrating even as we continue to help others who are still working to raise venture capital.

The program was launched to extend capital access to SoCal founders, especially first time founders, women founders, and founders of color who face greater challenges connecting to sources of capital. The founders that apply and that are selected into the selective program reflect our region’s geography diversity, industrial diversity, and diversity of identity.  In 2022, startups submitted from across the region, including Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Diego counties. That same year, we saw startups from 21 different technology specialties that represent the industrial diversity of SoCal, ranging from SaaS, to consumer, cleantech, to deep tech (e.g. AI, advanced materials, etc.). In 2022, 40% of applicants were women and 43% of those accepted into the program were women. That same year 68% of applicants had at least one co-founder who identified as an underrepresented founder and 57% of those accepted were from underrepresented racial categories. 

Second, we wanted to connect founders to other founders.  

The Alliance is a super connector. Through our SoCal Venture Pipeline, we primarily connect founders to investors who are most likely to be interested in their company. To date, we have offered investors over 360 introductions to founders that best fit their investment criteria.  In addition, we also want to connect founders to one of the best sources of advice and support – fellow founders!

Third, we wanted to help inspire and inform the founders. 

Pacific Western Bank helped us assemble a panel with successful founders and a VC who shared their advice on what funded founders should prioritize at this stage of their journey. The panel discussion included Chris Webb, Founder and CEO of take out app Chow Now; John Harris, Cofounder and CEO of EV company Harbinger Motors; and Jennifer Richard, Investor at Bonfire Ventures.  The founders shared stories of their successes of growing their business in times when capital was easier to secure and how they were navigating the more challenging capital environment following the slowdown in venture capital check writing. The panel provided great insights with humor and humility.  Key insights included these gems from Phillip Weicker, CTO at Harbinger:

On fundraising and dilution: “The number of people who have gone out of business from dilution is zero. The number of people who went out of business because they ran out of money is not zero.” 

On hard days as a startup founder:  “I’ve never thought about quitting, but I have thought about going home early.”

If you are a SoCal founder and would like to gain assistance from the SoCal Venture Pipeline investor network, please apply here:

If you are VC who isn’t yet receiving our Seed and Series A deal flow, please reach out to Dan Davidson.