Why LA is the Future of Startups

I am thrilled to have just joined Techstars in my dream gig, as Managing Director of the new Techstars LA program.  As a refresher, we introduced this new program last October.  Techstars LA will take a horizontal focus and will accept tech startups from around the world that are innovating across a wide range of industries and challenges and seeking to build a deep network across the Los Angeles tech ecosystem.

Here are three reasons I’m so excited about this opportunity:

1. Los Angeles is a great city for founders.  

  • The LA area has the third largest startup ecosystem, behind San Francisco and New York, with the highest growth rate of any metro region.  
  • Capital flowing into LA startups grew 200% from 2012 to 2015, reaching over $3B in invested capital going to 202 companies.  

2. There are a wealth of interesting challenges where the LA area has a rich history, strong talent pool and existing anchor businesses.  

  • Next-gen transportation and aerospace.  In the backyard of SpaceX and Hyperloop, there are a number of new startups emerging. Out of necessity, the LA region will need to be an early adopter of new ways to move around. As the first major city to sync all its traffic lights, LA is already ahead of the curve.
  • Clean energy.  Against the backdrop of the current uncertain political climate (pun intended) we’re looking for companies aiming to transform how we create, distribute and use energy.  
  • Biotech.  As a leader in both agricultural innovation and environmental protection, California is a natural home for creative solutions to food security and environmental protection.
  • E-commerce and supply chain.  Anchored by companies like Dollar Shave Club and Honest Company, the LA area is primed for more innovation in e-commerce, supported by a local population of trendsetters.  
  • AR/VR.  As the home of the entertainment industry, Los Angeles has become the center for the next wave of content experiences.  We’re interested in the role of AR/VR to create value in education and industry.  
  • Media.  This is Los Angeles, after all.  The metro that birthed Hulu, Maker Studios and Snapchat is a rich environment for new content and connection businesses.
  • Diverse founder teams.  The founders of companies selected for Techstars LA will reflect the diversity of Los Angeles.  This is not just a nice-to-have, we believe it’s good business.

This may seem like a wide swath across the tech landscape and it’s meant to be.  The Techstars LA program is interested in companies solving tough problems with deeply technological solutions.  And a little sizzle in the mix.

3. Techstars is tripling down in LA.

  • We have put together a great team for Techstars LA. Joining me as Director of the LA program is Techstars alum Ethan Austin, co-founder of GiveForward. Ethan is a terrific writer, burrito lover, self-professed startup junkie and recently relocated from Chicago. And Lara Jeremko will be joining our 2017 program as Entrepreneur-in-Residence. Lara is an investor, startup co-founder and advisor relocating from Austin, Texas. Previously Lara managed a $1.5 billion portfolio of venture capital investments at the University of Texas endowments and also co-founded re:3D, an industrial 3D printing company. Lara is eager to immerse herself in the LA tech community and improv comedy scene.
  • And, Techstars gets results.  Since its first class of startups in Boulder in 2007, Techstars has graduated 914 companies.  These companies have raised over $2.8b and have a collective valuation of $6.7b.  According to Mattermark, Techstars is a leader in producing companies that close Series A deals.
  • Techstars LA will draw on all of that experience to build a world class program and portfolio.

The launch of Techstars LA is a great opportunity to build a web of connection across the many disparate pockets of innovation already happening in Los Angeles.  Techstars and its #givefirst philosophy support that larger goal of community building.  This program is about finding and adding value to great companies, but also about helping to build the local startup ecosystem.  I’m thrilled to be going #LongLA with Techstars.  

Applications for Techstars Los Angeles are now open. We look forward to talking with you!