Startup incubators such as Founders Institute and TechStars, are popping up outposts in various metropolises in the U.S. and even in internationally. Today, VC firm DFJ Frontier, an affiliate of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and the City of Ventura, California, are partnering to launch a new incubator in the region, the Ventura Ventures Technology Center.
Designed to help encourage technology startups to base or relocate their companies in the Southern California region, the fund will invest anywhere from $100,000 to $1 million in each startup. The venture will not be limited to investing in a particular sector . As a condition of the investment, the companies have to be based in Ventura. In return, the incubator has set up a technology-centric office center for startups that offer steeply discounted rents.
Of course, the Ventura Ventures incubator has a different model than many of the startup incubators that have emerged such as Y Combinator, TechStars or Founders Institute. Unlike these three organizations, the Ventura Ventures Technology Center doesn’t have the established education, guidance and mentoring curriculum that many of these incubators have received acclaim for. Though framed as an incubator, the SoCal-based program is more of a venture fund than an actual incubator. But the venture is still young and may add a curriculum-type program in the future. And the startups that the new fund is investing in seem to be later stage than those who join the other incubators.
One of the first startups to be funded by the new program is Lottay, a 2009 TechCrunch50 demopit company that lets you create an online gift that people can put money towards. Lottay, which received $475,000 in November 2009 from DFJ Frontier to open their Series A round, just received another $180,000 from the Ventura Ventures incubator. Lottay uses PayPal’s newly released Adaptive Payments API, to let anyone create gift pages with detailed descriptions and pictures of a particular goal or gift and then friends can contribute to the site via PayPal. The gift is sent instantly and securely, delivered as a surprise via email and Facebook. Givers can specify the gift they would like the money to buy – from a cup of coffee to a Caribbean cruise and beyond – while receivers are free to use the money to buy the intended gift or anything else they want.