Los Angeles-based venture firm Upfront Ventures has had a lot of exciting news lately. The firm, originally named GRP Partners, raised a new, $200 million fund and went through a big re-branding earlier this summer. It’s also picked out a fancy new office space in Santa Monica that it’ll be moving into early next year.
Upfront has been adding new partners, as well. In March, former Hautelook CMO Greg Bettinelli joined the firm as a partner focused on making investments in e-commerce, marketplaces, and consumer applications. Now another L.A.-based entrepreneur is joining the firm — Hamet Watt, co-founder of wellness innovation company bLife and MoviePass, a subscription service for movies in theaters.
Prior to that, Watt served as an entrepreneur-in-residence at True Ventures, and also founded NextMedium, which was acquired by Affinity Technologies. With that background, Watt will be focusing on making investments in digital media and health.
Watt told me that he’s lucky to have co-founded two companies in MoviePass and bLife with strong co-founders that have allowed him to pursue investing in startups. Being a serial entrepreneur himself will also allow him to have a lot more empathy when working with startups that he’s invested in, he told me.
Upfront has seen its star rise along with the broader Los Angeles startup ecosystem over the last several years. It’s made a number of local investments, such as Maker Studios, Daily Look, and ChowNow. The rebranding and new identity was spearheaded by Mark Suster, who joined in 2007 and eventually became managing director of the firm.
With a lot of Upfront’s investments being made in L.A., Watt sees an opportunity to help support the local startup ecosystem that he’s been a part of over the last six years. “This ecosystem is something special and relatively untapped when it comes to venture capital,” Watt said.