October marks the official kickoff to a new era for Grid110. On behalf of the Grid110 team as our newly appointed Executive Director, I’m excited to share the new direction and selected companies for our Fall 2017 programs.
The Grid110 Story
Founded in 2015 as an economic and community development non-profit aimed at supporting the growth of the startup ecosystem in Downtown Los Angeles, Grid110 began as a collective of 7 entrepreneurs who all shared a similar vision of Downtown LA as the next tech hub and chose to do something about it. Since the inception of the first official program, we have provided 10 early stage startups (initially focusing on fashion tech) with access to free office space, mentoring and other critical resources over 6 month cycles. We do not provide any funding, but companies also do not give up any equity or pay fees to participate in the program.
Our focus at Grid110 is to help companies realize sustainable growth paths that allow them to scale their businesses (and teams) right here in Downtown LA.
Our alumni companies have gone on to secure office space in Downtown LA, create jobs (some doubling or tripling the size of their teams over time), secure major licensing partnerships, close funding rounds and for one company in particular, get acquired. We’re so proud of the strides these founders and companies have made since we first started working with them. To support the needs of the broader community we’ve hosted a hackathon, startup bootcamp, angel investor bootcamp and various other panels/events.
Coming into our 3rd year this year, we were intent on scaling our programs and impact to support more entrepreneurs. Thanks in part to a grant we were awarded and key partnerships with the office of Mayor Eric Garcetti, Nixon Peabody and Cross Campus, we’ve been able to do exactly that. This summer, we announced an open call for applications for two programs: one focusing on idea-to-prototype stage concepts and one for more developed early stage startup companies. We opened up applications to any business vertical to apply, moving beyond our previous singular focus on fashion tech. We received an overwhelming response to both programs. Following a rigorous evaluation and selection process, I’m excited to announce the selection of 20 teams to participate in Grid110’s Fall 2017 programs!
Meet the Companies
The five companies selected for the 3 month Residency Program — who have displayed knowledge and passion for their industry and traction in their business — are :
- CONVRG: founded in 2017 by Audrey Wu and Liz Snower, CONVRG is an end-to-end AI chatbot and voice experience development company helping brands and retailers achieve business goals via automated conversations that feel personal.
- Fruigees: founded in 2014 by David Czinn and Josh Kahn, Fruigees Organic Fruit Snacks is a local, organic fruit snack company based here in Los Angeles that’s now in over 6,500 stores across the US. Fruigees is the the perfect fun family snack made from organic fruits and veggies and contains no added sugar.
- Ringer Sports: founded in 2016 by Max Lubahn, Ringer Sports is a mobile management platform & business development tool for organized adult recreational sports teams and leagues, allowing players to match with teams that fit their competitive & social preferences.
- Superfit Hero: founded in 2015 by Micki Krimmel, Superfit Hero is a lifestyle fitness brand committed to inclusivity and empowerment for women.
- Swift Engine: founded in 2017 by Spartak Buniatyan, SwiftEngine is a Swift based PaaS which allows mobile app development companies to write their backend APIs using Swift. It empowers mobile apps teams to retain only one development team for their full stack development needs, while eliminating the need for dev-ops, improving time to market, reducing development execution risk, and lowering costs.
In addition, we selected 15 individuals/teams that fall within the idea-to-prototype spectrum for our first I2P program, a 6 week program that provides an affordable (free!), flexible, and quality educational experience for emerging entrepreneurs and experienced professionals seeking ways to expand and advance their entrepreneurial ambitions. I2P is the first step towards viability, arming entrepreneurs with the tools, framework, and structure to expand an idea and to validate a prototype. Selected teams are working across a diverse range of product verticals, including: food, fashion, animal conservation/education, hardware, fin tech, cannabis, urban gardening, lifestyle products, STEM games, travel and more.
We’re incredibly excited to work with all of these teams over the next 6–12 weeks! Entrepreneurs are the pulse of any startup ecosystem and we feel fortunate that so many are as passionate about building their businesses in/around Downtown LA as we are.
Expanding our impact
Aside from our formal programs and one off events, additional ways we’re looking to scale our impact through Grid110 are through building digital tools and resources for the community.
- We currently aggregate a list of tech/creative/business events taking place in and around Downtown LA. So many amazing community organizers are already producing events; we simply wanted to amplify their efforts.
- We’re compiling a startup directory to showcase the startups and creative agencies that call Downtown LA home and performing a study on funding invested into the region.
- We’re building a job listing to aggregate the tech/creative employment opportunities in Downtown LA.
- We’re exploring various partnerships to also scale our impact on job creation and support innovation activities in the area.
We’re always looking to expand our efforts. If what we’re doing at Grid110 resonates with you, please reach out to explore collaborative partnerships. We’re also actively seeking grant invitations and open to discussing potential sponsorship opportunities. You can also connect with us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.