All's Fair

As printed in the Los Angeles Business Journal, August 25, 2014

Bob Vanech wants to bring a world’s fair to Los Angeles.

Vanech and his partners at Los Angeles World’s Fair FPC are working to produce a fair that would begin in 2022 and last for two years, culminating with the proposed return of the Summer Olympics to Los Angeles.

Vanech, a tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist, has together with other investors put in about $110,000 to get the project started. They plan to formally announce the initiative this week and are in the process of raising $3 million or more of seed funding and crowdfunding to move along and get the word out.

“Our hurdle is popular support and funding.” Vanech said. “That’s where our efforts are going now.”

The proposed theme of the city is the “Connected City.” Pavilions would be staged near subway stops to emphasize the use of public transportation, and part of the idea is to showcase the region’s new infrastructure. The event would also spotlight new technologies from companies related to entertainment, transportation, and other innovations.

Vanech’s firm is looking to raise $2 million in Series A funding, along with between $1 million and $10 million from a crowdfunding campaign that will begin in the next three or so months. The money would go to hiring staff and covering other overhead and planning costs. The company has about a dozen paid employees.

It also began selling $500 memberships that give people access to galas and other perks. The firm is a flexible use corporation, meaning it has both a focus on doing a social good and creating a profit for shareholders.

Income would come from media rights, ticket sales, sponsorships, and merchandising.

The idea began in a discussion among leaders of non-profit RailLA, a local group that has worked to promote a high-speed​ rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles. As that project was delayed, the focus shifted to producing an LA-centric world’s fair. It would be the first world’s fair in the United States since 1984, when there was a six-month event in New Orleans.

Vanech’s now lining up endorsements and working on approvals from local and state government and an international governing body of world’s fairs.

As printed in the Los Angeles Business Journal, August 25, 2014