Director of Business Development, PriceWaterhouseCoopers
Residence: Playa Vista - Years in VC Consulting: 8
The surfboard on Randy Churchill's wall serves as a memento of the Web 1.0 days when people spent hours "surfing" the Internet. It also reminds him that he's in Southern California, the third-largest venture capital market in the nation.
Churchill's day job is compiling regional data for PriceWaterhouseCoopers' Money Tree Survey, a quarterly report on VC activity. But he's become much more than that to the area's Web 2.0 community, leveraging his multiple contacts to become a key enabler of industry deals.
Churchill, who also serves on various boards, has offered advice to budding entrepreneurs, hooked them up with would-be investors and is among the industry's biggest cheerleaders.
"What we're seeing in Los Angeles is a resurgence of venture capitals to seed money and A-round financing," Churchill said. "In my view Southern California has been ahead of the curve in recovery from the Internet bubble."
After the Internet meltdown in 2000, Churchill saw that venture capitalists shifted their focus from funding new ventures to helping their portfolio companies survive. But recently he's noticed VCs returning to their mandate of bankrolling startups.
"There's still a significant number of deals here, but they are early stage, which tend to have smaller dollar amounts. They are creating innovative business models, but not new technology," he said.
And unlike the original Web companies, they often have a clear goal for generating cash sooner, such as the advertising drawn to social networking and content-rich media sites.
For entrepreneurs in search of money, Churchill advises they first exhaust, or at least commit, their own funds, then go to wealthy individuals or "angels" for less than $1 million. The local Tech Coast Angels ranks among the most organized angel networks in the nation, and often they have pipelines into venture capital for later rounds of finance.
Churchill personifies the spirit of the L.A. tech sector, rarely wearing a tie to work despite his office at a Big Five accounting firm. He started as a commercial banker in Michigan, then went to law school and practiced at several firms with a tech specialty. Later he helped start FinancialPrinter.com a printer supply and service site and raised $20 million for the project. At one point he worked on the canceled IPO for IdeaLab in Pasadena, where he met the PriceWaterhouseCoopers executives who hired him.
"I jumped around," he admitted, "but always dealt with entrepreneurial companies."
For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.