Dfj Frontier, an affiliate of Draper Fisher Jurvetson
Residence: Los Angeles
Education: B.S., engineering, Stanford
Previous Jobs: Zone Ventures, Los Angeles
Venture Capital Start: Cremin was an entrepreneur in digital music publishing until his board member and backer Tim Draper approached him about founding a venture capital firm. Cremin joined Zone Ventures in 1998.
Target Market: Focuses on early-stage technology companies on the West Coast
Financing: Seed stage. Funds come from big institutional and family offices that seek top quartile venture capital return. "We provide a strategy that provides opportunities for those returns. We're also very lucky because Calpers is an anchor investor with us."
Investment Philosophy: DJF Frontier typically backs entrepreneurial companies and takes an active role in developing the business plan and sitting on the board of directors. "We don't lend, we invest. We come in pre-product, pre-seed stage and help the companies grow. We're very entrepreneur-centric and fill a unique niche between angels and typical series A venture capitalists. One of the things we've noticed is that we tend to invest against the grain to other venture capitalists."
Recent Fundings: MaxPreps.com, a Cameron Park online tutoring program and Prolacta Bioscience, a Monrovia company that provides processed breast milk for critically ill infants
Boards: Prolacta Bioscience, OnTech, Iconix Video, Dragnet Solutions
Gripe: Prefers short proposals that outline major points. If an applicant fits the profile, the firm will find out more. "Don't send me a long business plan. See if you can articulate in one to three succinct pages what you do, why it solves a problem, who your customer is and why your team is capable."
Exit Strategies: Typically exits when a company is acquired or has an IPO, but is just as happy exiting through a private party transaction as well. "We try to grow big, stand-alone companies that don't need to sell, but could at the right time."
L.A. Market Outlook: "The venture capital market in Southern California is more vital than ever. Digital media has begun to realize its promise and Los Angeles specifically has a unique opportunity in media now that broadband is here." Also sees "tremendous biotechnology opportunities" from San Diego to Santa Barbara.
Biggest Challenge: Cremin says there will always be companies that don't do as well as expected. "That's the nature of the game. You have to expect some of them will go out of business." He cited Digital Path Networks, a Chino wireless Internet hardware firm, as a profitable investment that "isn't growing as quickly as expected due to intense market competition."
Biggest Winner: Cremin is most proud of the scientific innovations Prolacta uses to help struggling infants. "So many babies are being saved, it's just amazing. More and more babies are born early each year and how do you feed them? There's nobody else out there that does what we do." Also "thrilled" with the press Max Preps has received.
Biggest Bust: Doesn't recall any big busts; some companies were just less profitable than others
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