Gut Check: Are We There Yet?

Make in LA’s mission to make hardware less hard was put on paper in May 2015. It’s now been a year and a good time to reflect.

Before launching, peers told us: expect to fail because building an ecosystem takes a ton of resources and a long freaking time. To save time and minimize risk of failure, we borrowed best practices from accelerators we have a crush on (no need to reinvent the wheel). We also established relevant alliances, recruited roll-up-your-sleeve mentors, and began developing meaningful relationships with funders. Good karma is our MO (just hoping it comes back soon…come on universe).

Our vision is to create the LA epicenter of hardware, and one year later, we wonder…are we there yet?

Transforming a 20,000 square ft space into a Hardware Tech epicenter

We spent the first 3 months molding a 20,000 sq ft blank space into a playground where entrepreneurs, inventors, and tech savvy folks break things, make things, and hustle.

Once the build out was complete, did people come? Yes. We filled the space with the right energy … one filled with generosity, creativity, and optimism. To raise awareness of our epicenter, we championed hackathons, established office hours, and hosted hardware panels and pitch events. These brought in more than 1,000 people to Make in LA, inspiring us to keep moving (faster).

Advanced Manufacturing in LA is a no-brainer

Hollywood overshadows most things in LA except traffic. So, the county’s deep roots in manufacturing have been local knowledge until we showed up. We are leveraging old school and new school manufacturing talent, LA’s diversity, and thriving tech scene to become the epicenter of hardware tech. And are stoked to extended LA tech’s boundary north-east to the Valley. Not Silicon Valley; the LA “like OMG” Valley.

The Make it in LA movement also rose up late last year, along with a new makerspace associated with the LA Cleantech Incubator, and a Redbull makerspace at CTRL Collective. SpaceX continues to build rockets, and JPL continues to churn out entrepreneurial rocket scientist.

At the knee of the J Curve

We at Make in LA have a high degree of certainty that we were neither too early nor too late to uncover incredible hardware entrepreneurs, yet we have to hustle to secure the opportunities. We have been known to accelerate time; so keeping pace with our ambitious vision continues to stretch our entrepreneurs and us. And like most entrepreneurs, we have made (first world) standard of living sacrifices that suck in the short term in order to spark this bold effort (adios fancy stuff). We do so, because it’s clear that the time to invest in hardware tech is right now. Savvy players are all over it. Did you know that Snapchat is secretly hiring wearable tech experts and Facebook poached Google’s hardware badass to lead their new hardware division? And, according to McKinsey we are sitting on $11 trillion of economic value in the Internet of Things.