Next week we'll hear from Scott Painter of CarsDirect.com and Sunil Mehotra of KnowledgeLink.
BK: Zone's been active since last year, what do you think of the investment opportunities you've seen so far here in LA?
DC: The investment opportunities are tremendous here in Southern California! That is why Tim Draper opened the office in November, 1998. We are seeing fantastic technology and new media companies. As broadband matures, we will see more and more opportunity for Hollywood to migrate into the internet. We think that Los Angeles will be a huge information technology center. All the pieces are here.
BK: What do you see as the biggest challenge or opportunity Zone and other VCs have in the LA market?
DC: It is the newness of the Southern California Technology market that is the opportunity for everyone focusing here right now. The biggest challenge is human capital: how to nurture, attract and/or retain great talent. Great executives are here, the infrastructure simply isn't as developed as, for example, Silicon Valley.
That is why we founded the Zone Club, whose mission it is to unite Southern California entrepreneurs, media professionals, venture capital firms, students, and others to provide a forum for high-end leadership discussion and interaction. In that sense, we see our efforts in this area as the opportunity for Southern California to mature rapidly.
In addition we funded a group that will create an online magazine/community for Southern California specifically. Zone Communications, this "Town Crier" so to speak, will help affect the technology culture in the same way Upside Magazine impacted Silicon Valley. Zone Communications will help organize and focus on the technology culture, the market and the entrepreneur heroes in Southern California.
BK: What kind of advice would you give Los Angeles based entrepreneurs who want to get your attention?
DC: Los Angeles-based entrepreneurs, who want our attention should get to know our firm by visiting our web site at www.zonevc.com. By doing so they will get to know our areas of interest. And of course, they should have a great idea, in a large market, know the competition, and have a fantastic management team with a unique ability to execute. These were the qualities that attracted us to companies like eStyle, Inc. and babystyle.com, Zcentral.com, Showbizdata.com, Static Online, Rocket Radio and Allpets.com.
Most of all, we look for the passion and drive, which are necessary to pull off a startup.