Los Angeles, a city known for its glitz, glam and its title as the undisputed entertainment capital of the world, has another industry hidden up its sleeve: a thriving, rapidly growing tech ecosystem.
At a time when startups, prominent tech figures from Tim Ferriss to Peter Thiel, and employees alike are all beginning to find homes outside the Silicon Valley, the race for becoming the next tech hub in the United States is on. For a variety of reasons, Los Angeles is well-positioned to take that crown.
Here are a handful of reasons why.
1. Los Angeles is the manufacturing capital of the United States.
Believe it or not, the manufacturing capital of the USA isn't Pittsburgh or Cleveland or Philadelphia -- it's actually L.A. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there are around half a million manufacturing jobs in Los Angeles alone.
Because of its manufacturing capacity and access to resources, L.A. is positioned particularly well to become the go-to hot-spot for hardware startups in the United States. There are already organizations in place that have capitalized on this opportunity.
One example is Make in L.A. Located in San Fernando Valley, Make in L.A. is a private accelerator and venture capital fund focused on bringing hardware startups to market all under one roof. The program is all housed within southern California's largest Toolbox LA, where members of the program can refine prototypes in the makerspace, clarify go-to-market strategies, sharpen their value propositions and network with fellow founders without ever having to leave the building. Specifically, Toolbox LA is a community-driven workspace that includes an event space and a biotech incubator in addition to the makerspace and hardware accelerator provided by Make in L.A.coworking space and partner organization,
Lastly, with hardware companies like Google Hardware, Ring and uBeam leading the charge, aerospace giants like SpaceX and JPL putting down roots in LA, along with innovative startup models like the one implemented at Make In LA, the hardware startup scene in southern California looks more than promising.
2. The city has full support from its mayor.
In early October, the Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti officially kicked off the start of Manufacturing Week.
With over 400 Los Angeles techies, entrepreneurs and social workers in attendance, the event was just one of many measures Garcetti is backing to promote a healthy tech ecosystem. Make It in L.A., a non-profit dedicated to helping hardware entrepreneurs make their products a reality, and Grid110.org, an incubator and accelerator for startups in downtown Los Angeles, are a couple other examples.
3. There's a $155 billion valuation in Silicon Beach.
According to a recent study conducted by MediaKix, the Silicon Beach -- the name given to the startup scene in Santa Monica, Venice, Playa Del Rey and Culver City -- alone is now valued at $155 billion. This is largely thanks to companies like Dollar Shave Club, Headspace, Hulu, and Snap setting up shop in the area.
Additionally, it's no surprise that the beach lifestyle of the Silicon Beach is appealing to younger workers, making it easy to "snipe" young talent from slower, arguably less exciting areas such as the suburbs in Cupertino and Mountain View. With a favorable climate and ocean view, it won't be difficult for companies to sway talent to relocate to the Silicon Beach upon their college graduation.
4. There's a wide variety of entrepreneurs.
Because L.A. is the world's epicenter of entertainment, it's comprised of everyone from filmmakers to musicians to stand-up comedians, resulting in a unique blend of creatives and entrepreneurs in Los Angeles that isn't as prevalent in other areas of the country. Now, with the proliferation of the L.A. startup ecosystem, these same individuals have the potential to bring their creativity to the tech world.
I've experienced this first hand upon moving down from the Bay Area to L.A. Having lived in five states and over 20 cities, there truly is a unique sense of grit and hustle embedded in people's DNA down here. A hustle that has, more than likely, culminated as a result of waitresses anxiously waiting for their next audition or an aspiring musician working night shifts until they get their big break--and it's exciting to see that same tenacity bleeding over into the startup world.
While the Silicon Valley still remains the icon of the startup world, which city will house the next wave of tech entrepreneurship still remains up in the air. With its manufacturing capacity, immense funding, support of its mayor and culture of grit and hustle, LA seems like it could very well be the front-runner.
A very special thanks to Raychel Espiritu for providing insight and research for this article.