Leaders of the booming startup scene converged at Vator Splash LA on Thursday, as influential entrepreneurs and investors gathered in Santa Monica to share their ideas and advice on some of the major themes and issues emerging in the space.
Hosted by Vator, a leading network for startups and investors, the one-day conference featured heavyweights from all aspects of the industry such as Adam Goldenberg, Founder and CEO of JustFab; Jeremy Liew, Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners; Brian Lee, Co-Founder and CEO of The Honest Company; and Michael Dubin, Founder and CEO of Dollar Shave Club participating in panels, networking sessions and educational presentations.
At the center of the event is a competition pitting some of the hottest Los Angeles startups in the pre-seed to seed-stage, pitching their business ideas, with the winner receiving sit-down meetings with some of the top VC firms in the industry. This year’s winners were Kangarootime, which develops solutions for childcare professionals, and Healthiest, which describes itself as “your natural medicine cabinet.”
Panels and discussion topics ranged from trendspotting for LA startups, understanding bubbles and valuations when fundraising, tax and accounting advice for startups, what’s missing in your pitch deck, what investors look for when deciding whether or not to fund a company, as well as the need for more diversity in the industry.
“Today, it’s about 0.001% of US households, probably, that own equity in a startup; it’s about $156 billion in assets under management, and I see both those numbers going up,” said Bambi Francisco, Founder and CEO of Vator, in her presentation on the financing landscape for startups. “We’re in a bull market and it’s very compelling. Investors are all trying to get in the game and they’re all creating funds. We have nearly zero interest rates and this makes our asset class attractive.”
Francisco compared our economic climate to the democratization of capital in the public equity market during the 1970s and ‘80s that propelled the bull market at the time, and believes that the private equity market is positioned to experience the same phenomenon due to similar tailwinds in the current economic environment and on the regulatory front like Title III of the JOBS Act.
“If you think there’s going to be a crunch, don’t worry about it,” Francisco said. “I have a feeling there’s going to be a lot more funds that will come in to fill that void. I think there will be a lot more specialized funds. We’ve already seen vertical funds for FinTech and Healthcare, but now we’re seeing even more granulized funds.”
This abundance of capital, as she describes it, has resulted in a saturation of ideas and an even more competitive landscape. But this also frees up entrepreneurs and CEOs to focus on more long-term thinking, as opposed to short-term survival tactics.
“An important part of thinking long term, and not short term, you think about what you passionately want to do,” Francisco said. “Sometimes, that’s not the mentality in startup culture. But because it’s going to be so competitive, because you have to make a business, you have to start thinking long term, passionately, and think about what you want to do.”
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