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About Erik Rannala

Before joining Harrison Metal, Erik was most recently vice president of product management and strategy at TripAdvisor, the largest travel community site on the Web. In that role, he led product strategy and development for TripAdvisor sites in the US, UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain, as well distributed applications and syndicated content on partner sites like Facebook. Prior to TripAdvisor, Erik spent over four years at eBay, where he held a variety of positions, including leadership of eBay's premium features business, which grew during his tenure from $124 million in revenue in 2002 to $410 million in 2005, significantly outpacing overall eBay revenue and listings growth. Previously, Erik held leadership roles at, where he was the online sporting goods retailer's first marketing employee, and at Accenture, where he advised Fortune 500 retail, communications, and consumer products clients on strategy, operations and technology engagements. He was also an early member of Accenture's first practice group dedicated to Internet strategy and development in the mid-1990's. Erik earlier served at the Domestic Policy Council in the White House, where he worked on issues such as equal employment opportunity and Native American affairs. Erik holds a BS from the University of Delaware and an MBA from Duke University.

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Muniq's 'Healthy Gut' Nutritional Shake Scores $8 Million - dot.LA

Jan 12, 2021

Muniq's 'Healthy Gut' Nutritional Shake Scores $8 Million Francesca Billington is a dot.LA editorial intern. She's previously reported for KCRW, the Santa Monica Daily Press and local publications in New Jersey. Before joining dot.LA , she was a communications fellow at an environmental science research center in Sri Lanka. She graduated from Princeton in 2019 with a degree in anthropology. Jan 12 2021 Los Angeles-based Muniq, a startup selling prebiotic nutritional shakes, closed an $8.2 million Series A round Tuesday led by Alpha Edison and Acre Ventures Partners. The direct-to-consumer company, which does business as Uplifting Results Labs, launched its first line in May of 2020. It was founded by CEO Marc Washington, the former chief financial officer at The Wonderful Company — which owns brands like FIJI Water and POM Wonderful — and former chief executive at supplement company Irwin Naturals. Muniq sells itself as a food tech company promoting a healthy gut health microbiome with a line of prebiotic shakes. Washington said many of his customers have diabetes or other chronic conditions. Others are just looking to lose weight. "I think that over the next five to 10 years gut health will continue to be at the forefront of health and wellness," he said. "Especially when you look at the conditions we're trying to address, almost all of them have had a disproportionate effect on minority communities. As a Black founder, it's something that I'm personally passionate about." Washington will use the funds to build his team and conduct more clinical research. His immediate goal is to continue building an online presence and eventually get the products into brick-and-mortar stores. The raise marks Muniq's second round of funding following a $5 million seed round led by The Production Board, a San Francisco incubator where Washington began his company. Related Articles Around the Web Jan 12 2021 Subscribe Jan 04 2021 Despite — or in many cases because of — the raging pandemic, 2020 was a great year for many tech startups. It turned out to be an ideal time to be in the video game business, developing a streaming ecommerce platform for Gen Z, or helping restaurants with their online ordering. But which companies in Southern California had the best year? That is highly subjective of course. But in an attempt to highlight who's hot, we asked dozens of the region's top VCs to weigh in. We wanted to know what companies they wish they would have invested in if they could go back and do it all over again. <p>Startups were ranked by how many votes each received. In the case of a tie, companies were listed in order of capital raised. The list illustrates how rapidly things move in startup land. One of the hottest startups had not even started when 2020 began. A number doubled or even 16x'd their valuation in the span of a few short months. </p><p>To divvy things up, we delineated between companies that have raised Series A funding or later and younger pre-seed or seed startups.</p><p>Not surprisingly, many of the hottest companies have been big beneficiaries of the stay-at-home economy.</p><p>PopShop Live, a red-hot QVC for Gen Z headquartered out of a WeWork on San Vicente Boulevard, got the most votes. Interestingly, the streaming ecommerce platform barely made it onto the Series A list because it raised its Series A only last month. Top Sand Hill Road firms Andreessen Horowitz and Lightspeed Venture Partners <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">reportedly competed ferociously for who would lead the round</a> but lost out to Benchmark, which was an early investor in eBay and Uber. The round valued PopShop Live at $100 million, way up from the $6 million valuation it <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">raised at only five months prior. </a></p><p>Scopely, now <a href="" target="_self">one of the most valuable tech companies in Los Angeles,</a> was also a top vote getter.</p><p>The Culver City mobile gaming unicorn <a href="" target="_self">raised $340 million in Series E funding in October</a> at a $3.3 billion valuation, which nearly doubled the company's $1.7 billion post-money valuation from March. It is no coincidence that that was the same month stay-at-home orders began as Scopely has benefited from bored consumers staying on their couch and playing ScrabbleGo or Marvel Strike Force. </p><p>The company's success is especially welcome news to seed investors Greycroft, The Chernin Group and TenOneTen ventures, who got in at a $40 million post valuation in 2012. Upfront Ventures, BAM Ventures and M13 joined the 2018 Series C at a $710 post-money valuation.</p><p>Softbank-backed Ordermark, which flew more under the radar, also topped the list. The company's online ordering platform became a necessity for restaurants forced to close their dining rooms during the pandemic and raised $120 million in Series C funding in October.</p><p>On the seed side, two very different startups stood out. There was Pipe, which enables companies with recurring revenues to tap into their deferred cash flows with an instant cash advance, and Clash App, Inc., a TikTok alternative launched by a former employee of the social network in August.</p><p><span></span>We will have the list of Southern California's top seed startups out tomorrow.</p> Hottest <img lazy-loadable="true" src="" id="4a086" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f2f18f0bc4400a388e43736c560ff87f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="PopShop Live logo" /> Jan 11 2021 Though Silicon Valley is still very much the capital of venture capital, Los Angeles is home to plenty of VCs who have made their mark – investing in successful startups early and reaping colossal returns for their limited partners. Who stands out? We thought there may be no better judge than their peers, so we asked 28 of L.A.'s top VCs who impresses them the most. <p>The list includes many familiar names. Dana Settle, founding partner of Greycroft, and Mark Mullen, founding partner of Bonfire Ventures, garnered the most votes.</p><p>Settle manages West Coast operations for Greycroft, a New York firm with $1.8 billion in assets under management. She is one of only nine of the top 100 VCs nationally who are women, <a href="" target="_blank">according to CB Insights</a>.</p><p>Mullen is a founding partner of Bonfire Ventures, which <a href="" target="_self">closed a $100 million second fund in September</a> to continue funding seed stage business-to-business (B2B) software startups. Mullen has also been an angel investor and is an LP in other funds focusing on other sectors, including MaC VC and BAM Ventures.</p><p>Below is the list of the top ranked investors by how many votes each received from their peers. When there was a tie, they appear in alphabetical order according to their last name: </p> <img lazy-loadable="true" src="" id="b27ce" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="dfc63c042fef280f9133663c317cd494" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Mark Mullen, Bonfire Ventures" /> Mark Mullen, Bonfire Ventures <p>Mark Mullen is a founding partner of Bonfire Ventures. He is also founder and the largest investor in Mull Capital and Double M Partners, LP I and II. A common theme in these funds is a focus on business-to-business media and communications infrastructures.</p><p>In the past, Mullen has served as the chief operating officer at the city of Los Angeles' Economic Office and a senior advisor to former Mayor Villaraigosa, overseeing several of the city's assets including Los Angeles International Airport and the Los Angeles Convention Center. Prior to that, he was a partner at Daniels &amp; Associates, a senior banker when the firm sold to RBC Capital Markets in 2007.</p> <img lazy-loadable="true" src="" id="04adb" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9e06e66fdee8acf579d02d24d75d7ba6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Dana Settle, Greycroft" /> Dana Settle, Greycroft <p>Dana Settle is a founding partner of Greycroft, heading the West Coast office in Los Angeles. She currently manages the firm's stakes in Anine Bing, AppAnnie, Bird, Clique, Comparably, Goop, Happiest Baby, Seed, Thrive Market, Versed and WideOrbit, and is known for backing female-founded companies.</p><p>"The real change takes place when female founders build bigger, independent companies, like Stitchfix, TheRealReal," she said this time last year in <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an interview with Business Insider</a>. "They're creating more wealth across their cap tables and the cap tables tend to be more diverse, so that gives more people opportunity to become an angel investor." Prior to founding Greycroft, she was a venture capitalist and startup advisor in the Bay Area.</p> <img lazy-loadable="true" src="" id="2a238" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b3881d277f525725119e572c4fcbda6e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Erik Rannala, Mucker Capital" /> Erik Rannala, Mucker Capital <p>Erik Rannala is a founding partner at Mucker Capital, which he created with William Hsu in 2011. Before founding Mucker, Rannala was vice president of global product strategy and development at TripAdvisor and a group manager at eBay, overseeing its premium features business.</p><p>"As an investor, I root for startups. It pains me to see great teams and ideas collapse under the pressure that sometimes follows fundraising. If you've raised money and you're not sure what comes next, that's fine – I don't always know either," Rannala wrote in <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a blog post for Mucker</a>. </p><p>Mucker has a portfolio of 61 companies, including Los Angeles-based Honey and Santa Monica-based HMBradley.</p> <img lazy-loadable="true" src="" id="d41bd" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="59d31edc830379a9bbc98e35853a33bf" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="William Hsu, Mucker Capital" /> William Hsu, Mucker Capital <p>William Hsu is a founding partner at the Santa Monica-based fund Mucker Capital. He started his career as a founder, creating BuildPoint, a provider of workflow management solutions for the commercial construction industry not long after graduating from Stanford. </p><p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">In an interview with Fast Company</a>, he shared what he learned in the years following, as he led product teams at eBay, Green Dot and Spot Runner, eventually becoming the SVP and Chief Product Officer of At&amp;T Interactive: "Building a company is about hiring correctly, adhering to a timeline, and rigorously valuing opportunity. It's turning something from inspiration and creative movement into process and rigor. "</p><p>These are the values he looks for in founders in addition to creativity. "I like to see the possibility of each and every idea, and being imaginative makes me a passionate investor. "</p> <img lazy-loadable="true" src="" id="322fd" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ef8aee3525770cd929e2aba92ecc7531" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Jim Andelman, Bonfire Ventures" /> Jim Andelman, Bonfire Ventures <p>Jim Andelman is a founding partner of Bonfire Ventures, a fund that focuses on seed rounds for business software founders. Andelman has been in venture capital for 20 years, previously founding Rincon Venture Partners and leading software investing at Broadview Capital Partners.<br><br>He's no stranger to enterprise software — he also was a member of the Technology Investment Banking Group at Alex. Brown &amp; Sons and worked at Symmetrix, a consulting firm focusing on technology application for businesses.</p><p><a href="" target="_self">In a podcast with LA Venture's Minnie Ingersoll</a> earlier this year, he spoke on the hesitations people have about choosing to start a company.</p>"It's two very different things: Should I coach someone to be a VC or should I coach someone to enter the startup ecosystem? On the latter question, my answer is 'hell yeah!'" <img lazy-loadable="true" src="" id="6450f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="95b602d695ce509d0f7370992c2e9d9d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Josh Diamond, Walkabout Ventures" /> Josh Diamond, Walkabout Ventures <p>Josh Diamond founded Walkabout Ventures, a seed fund that primarily focuses on financial service startups. The firm raised a $10 million fund in 2019 and is preparing for its second fund. Among its 19 portfolio companies is HMBradley, which Diamond helped seed and recently <a href="" target="_self">raised $18 in a Series A</a> round.</p><p>"The whole reason I started this is that I saw there was a gap in the funding for early stage, financial service startups," he said. As consumers demand more digital access and transparency, he said the market for financial services is transforming — and Los Angeles is quickly becoming a hub for fintech companies. Before founding Walkabout, he was a principal for Clocktower Technology Ventures, another Los Angeles-based fund with a similar focus.</p> <img lazy-loadable="true" src="" id="d0ce4" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d46bbd0e229197a24283d05c3fddc09d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Kara Nortman, Upfront Ventures" /> Kara Nortman, Upfront Ventures <p>Kara Nortman was recently promoted to managing partner at Upfront Ventures, making her one of the few women – along with Settle – to ascend to the highest ranks of a major VC firm.</p><p>Though<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> Upfront had attempted to recruit her</a> before she joined in 2014, she had declined in order to start her own company, Moonfrye, a children's ecommerce company that rebranded to P.S. XO and merged with Seedling. Upfront invested in the combination, and shortly after, Nortman joined the Upfront team.</p><p>Before founding Moonfrye, she was the SVP and General Manager of Urbanspoon and Citysearch at IAC after co-heading IAC's M&amp;A group.</p><p><a href="" target="_self">In an interview with dot.LA earlier this year</a>, she spoke on how a focus for her as a VC is to continue to open doors for founders and funders of diverse backgrounds.<br></p><p>"Once you're a woman or a person of color in a VC firm, it is making sure other talented people like you get hired, but also hiring people who are not totally like you. You have to make room for different kinds of people. And how do you empower those people? "<br></p> <img lazy-loadable="true" src="" id="79772" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5969c6ca5112d709e707776fa83ba9d7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Brett Brewer, Crosscut Ventures" /> Brett Brewer, Crosscut Ventures <p>Brett Brewer is a co-founder and managing director of Crosscut Ventures. He has a long history in entrepreneurship, starting a "pencil selling business in 4th grade." In 1998, he co-founded Intermix Media. Under their umbrella were online businesses like and After selling Intermix in 2005, he became president of</p><p>Brewer founded Santa Monica-based Crosscut in 2008 alongside Rick Smith and Brian Garrett. His advice to founders <a href="" target="_blank">on Crosscut's website</a> reflects his experience: "Founders have to be prepared to pivot, restart, expect the unexpected, and make tough choices quickly... all in the same week! It's not for the faint of heart, but after doing this for 20 years, you can spot the fire (and desire) from a mile away (or not). "</p> <img lazy-loadable="true" src="" id="b1eb4" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3cac5cdf982eda2a6f2e248a14cec5cb" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Eva Ho, Fika Ventures" /> Eva Ho, Fika Ventures <p>Eva Ho is a founding partner of Fika Ventures, a boutique seed fund, which focuses on data and artificial intelligence-enabled technologies. Prior to founding Fika, she was a founding partner at San Francisco-based Susa Ventures, another seed-stage fund with a similar focus. She is also a serial entrepreneur, most recently co-founding an L.A. location data provider, Factual. She also co-founded Navigating Cancer, a health startup, and is a founding member of All Raise, a nonprofit that supports and provides resources to female founders and funders.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">In an interview with John Livesay</a> shortly before founding Fika, Ho spoke to how her experience at Factual helped focus what she looks for in founders. "I always look for the why. A lot of people have the skills and the confidence and the experience, but they can't convince me that they're truly passionate about this. That's the hard part — you can't fake passion. "</p> <img lazy-loadable="true" src="" id="0e32d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0f41bf1e9ce2e6bbbfe70d5d71fb987c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Brian Lee, BAM Ventures" /> Brian Lee, BAM Ventures <p>Brian Lee is a co-founder and managing director of BAM Ventures, an early-stage consumer-focused fund. <a href="" target="_self">In an interview with dot.LA earlier this year</a>, Lee shared that he ended up being the first investor in Honey, which was bought by PayPal for $4 billion, through investing in founders and understanding their "vibe. "</p><p>"There's certain criteria that we look for in founders, a proprietary kind of checklist that we go through to determine whether or not these are the founders that we want to back…. [Honey's founders] knew exactly what they were building, and how they were going to get there. "</p><p>His eye for the right vibe in a founder is one gleaned from experience. Lee is a serial entrepreneur, founding, and The Honest Company.</p> <img lazy-loadable="true" src="" id="d431d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6d45a1166ebeebb21c65af6e69cc60dd" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Alex Rubalcava, Stage Venture Partners" /> Alex Rubalcava, Stage Venture Partners <p>Alex Rubalcava is a founding partner of Stage Venture Partners, a seed venture capital firm that invests in emerging software technology for B2B markets. Prior to joining, he was an analyst at Santa Monica-based Anthem Venture Partners, an investor in early stage technology companies. It was his first job after graduating from Harvard, and during his time at Anthem the fund was part of Series A in companies like MySpace, TrueCar and Android.</p><p>He has served as a board member in several Los Angeles nonprofits and organizations like KIPP LA Schools and South Central Scholars.</p><p>"Warren Buffett says that he's a better businessman because he's an investor, and he's a better investor because he's a businessman. I feel the same way about VC and value investing. Being good at value investing can make you good at venture capital, and vice versa," Rubalcava said in <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an interview with Shai Dardashti of MOI Global</a>.</p> <img lazy-loadable="true" src="" id="80788" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="becd19a763d1348fcc2ef350377f58fd" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Mark Suster, Upfront Ventures" /> Mark Suster, Upfront Ventures <p>Mark Suster, managing partner at Upfront Ventures, is arguably L.A.'s most visible VC, frequently posting on Twitter and on his <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">blog</a>, not only about investing but also more personal topics like weight loss. In more normal years, he presides over LA's biggest gathering of tech titans, the Upfront Summit. Before Upfront, he was the founder and chief executive officer of two software companies, BuildOnline and Koral, which was acquired by Salesforce. Upfront backed both of his companies, and eventually he joined their team in 2007.</p><p>In a piece for his blog, "Both Sides of the Table," <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Suster wrote about the importance of passion</a> — not just for entrepreneurs and their businesses, but for the VCs that fund them as well.<br></p><p>"On reflection of the role that I want to play as a VC it is clearly in the camp of passion. I really want to start my journeys only with people with whom I want to work closely with for the next 5–7 years or more. I only want to work on projects in which I believe can produce truly amazing change in an industry or in the world. "</p> <p class=""><em>Lead art by Candice Navi.</em></p> From Your Site Articles


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