Image credits: Wonder Ventures / Wonder Ventures team, from left: Valentina Rodriguez, Dustin Rosen, Taylor Bolhack
New technologies keep innovation going, but when it comes to venture capital support for these nascent ideas, someone always has to be first. Dustin Rosen, his partner in managing Wonder Ventures, is happy to be that “someone.”
Wonder Ventures has been a fixture in the Los Angeles and Southern California pre-seed investment scene for a decade and has backed nearly every unicorn company in Los Angeles, including Honey and Whatnot. Other notable investments include Clutter, Modern Animal, and Tala.
“I looked around L.A. in 2013 and realized there was a great community,” Rosen told TechCrunch. “The company was really becoming a technology company in its own right, but they lacked the initial capital to support them. They will move into the Bay Area to raise money, but I would argue that that first $1 million is still – and even today in 2024 – too hard to come by. Where does Wonder Ventures come from? Was it?”
Rosen has since added Valentina Rodriguez and Taylor Bolhak to the firm, and is now able to bring in new capital, launching two pre-seed funds: a $57 million pre-seed Fund 4 and a $45 million late-opportunity fund. The fund has secured $102 million in commitments. .
Mr. Rosen has not yet made any investments from Fund 4, but he has made one investment from the Opportunity Fund in the Series A of property tax savings company Ownwell. Rosen said the company plans to write checks in the range of $1 million to $1.5 million.
More than 60 limited partners, including early employees and executives from companies like Snap, Honey and ZipRecruiter, support Wonder Ventures and are from the same L.A. and Southern California communities, Rosen said.
Wonder Ventures is the latest company to inject additional capital at the pre-seed stage, where Rosen and other investors remain bullish. A few months ago, we saw more than half a dozen VC firms announce new funds, and the number has increased since then.
“As a founder, I wanted to start this company to think about what early founders really want from their VC experience and their large fund experience,” Rosen said. “This is when founders need the most hands-on experience to help them go from zero to one. On the investment side, we aim to be the first investors in a company. We're happy. We want to be the check that brings our customers into business, and it doesn't matter if we don't have traction.”
He also said that while other investors focus on numbers and traction, Wonder Ventures is “focused on great founders and big markets, and we're willing to jump in even before we create a product.” He also said that he is trying to differentiate himself by saying that he is not afraid of Additionally, Rosen seeks founders with domain expertise and unique, diverse experience focused on areas that others may not focus on.
As for what Wonder Ventures can bring to the table, the company's Fund II, its first fund with institutional investors, has already returned more than 2x investor capital and is worth more than 8.5x invested capital. said Rosen.
Meanwhile, the Opportunity Fund is a first for Wonder Ventures and continues a recent trend of companies wanting to support successful portfolio companies as they mature.
“It's even harder to get to the next round,” Rosen said. “We are focused on supporting our best companies. We have 120 companies and the Opportunity Fund will look back at all of these companies at the Series A level. We are still in the early stages. , so we want to lean into what we believe is the best opportunity while it's still in its early stages.”