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Dealmaker LA Launches to Connect Entrepreneurs and Investors

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Calling all entrepreneurs, tech startups, and developers -- are you ready to pitch? Venture capitalists, industry execs and investors -- want to swim along with the sharks? Tonight, Dealmaker Media hosts its premiere Dealmaker LA event and it's not going to be just another cocktail party, according to Dealmaker CEO Debbie Landa.

Dealmaker has been active in the Bay Area since 2000, bringing together start-up entrepreneurs with VC's and major executives with impressive results. Last year alone, 20 companies that participated in Dealmaker events were acquired and the list of success stories is impressive.

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The quantity of events and attention on the tech and new media startup scene in LA has been increasing exponentially over the past couple years, as any astute LAist reader knows. And the rest of the world is quickly taking notice.

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Landa credits Mike Jones of Santa Monica-based Userplane and Mike Macadaan of Twiistup with convincing her that the Los Angeles scene was happening over the past several months.

Twiistup has been a success over the past year but "LA NEEDS Dealmaker," Macadaan impressed upon on Landa at Digital Hollywood last year.

Landa began noticing that more and more of the companies turning out for Dealmaker's Bay Area events, were coming from Los Angeles and committed to launching Dealmaker LA in November, after gauging the interest of several execs, VC's and entrepreneurs. "Not one person said no," she said, dropping the names of some of the more enthusiastic supporters, such as MTV Networks EVP Jeff Yapp. And weeks later, Landa arrived in LA, for an invite-only Dealmaker LA preview event co-hosted by Michael Ovitz.

Landa hopes to attract the right mix of players to facilitate productive dialogue and conversation in LA with Dealmaker's variety of mixers, roundtables, and conferences.

"People behave differently in LA -- it's a very different way of networking. [In the Bay Area] I can do something called speed-dating and start-ups will lineup to participate," Landa told LAist. "[In LA] I think they're shy and kind of afraid."

"It turns out that without a real ecosystem and competition, nobody really knows who's who and what's what between the investors and the entrepreneurs," Landa said.

"It's important to have events that bring people together in a focused arena to talk about deals and business issues such as how to grow a company, build a team, and get in touch with the big executives. If all you're doing is cocktails and BarCamps, it's not gonna build the right kind of ecosystem."

Tonight's premiere Dealmaker LA is a mixer that opens with an hour of speed-dating to break the ice. 20 companies were chosen from those that signed up will be paired with a couple of investors and execs for multiple 5-minute rounds of speed-dating, "one way to bring people together and connect for business reasons," said Landa. Representatives from Rustic Canyon Ventures, GRP Partners, Userplane/AOL, Clearstone Ventures and Greycroft Partners will be in attendance.

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Landa said she reviews over 400 companies each year for inclusion in Dealmaker events which include the Under the Radar conference (which may come to LA later this year). "It's a perfect time to be covering the industry down here," she noted in closing. "Get the story now... before you know it, the VentureBeats and TechCrunches of the world will be opening offices in LA just trying to keep up."

Dealmaker LA
March 27, 2008 | 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Clearstone Ventures | 1351 4th Street, 4th Floor
Santa Monica, CA 90401 (map)
Tickets are available at the door for $35

Photo of Debbie Landa by Brian Solis.