Category Archives: new businesses

Is Local Banking Coming to Town?

Los Angeles has long needed a local bank.  The organization that has been fighting for this to happen is no took a break during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic and is now beginning to resume efforts with the LA City Council voting in favor of an investigation on how viable a city-owned bank would be, followed by the creation of a business plan.

Those in favor argue that creating such a bank would enable LA city to actually save banking fees as well as create additional credit access for SMEs, especially those in undeserved areas.  Further, the move could facilitate the financial backing of affordable housing and green energy programs.

While all of this sounds extremely positive, those who are not supportive of the move ask if LA city is able to manage such an institution.  Other cities (Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle) are also looking into the possibility of having a local bank.

LA Businesses: What’s New?

There have been some new developments worth noting in Los Angeles recently.  Here we take a look at three: a second hand clothing store, a pizza and sandwich store and a timely renovation to an existing coffee shop.

A couple of weeks ago a new second hand store opened up in Sherman Oaks, LA County.  A GEO Holdings subsidiary, 2nd STREET USA, Inc. opened its doors at 14548 Ventura Boulevard on February 15th.  The store – the fifth of its kind throughout California – both buys and sells second-hand clothes and accessories and will have approximately 15,000 items – many designer such as Burberry, Chanel, Gucci and more – in stock.

The family owned pizza-sandwich store has just opened at 2223 S. Pacific Avenue.  The Porthole Deli and Pizza will be selling pizza, salads and sandwiches using freshly-made bread baked daily in-house. Prices are right too; you can get a pasta salad, potato salad or chips for just one dollar!  In a short time it has already developed a great reputation for its amazing deli.

Over at 6101 Wilshire Boulevard get ready for a new opening.  A couple of weeks ago Johnie’s Coffee Shop Restaurant was re-opened with a new name Bernie’s Coffee Shop. On its first day – February 19 – it hosted a Nevada Democratic Party Debate watch party followed by speeches, poetry and musical performances.  In addition, food and drinks with a Sanders theme were offered such as Break Up the Banks Burgers; Health Care for All Hash Browns and Coke No Koch!

LA County’s Successful Businesses

When it comes to talk of startup businesses in the California region, the two words that usually come to mind are Silicon Valley.  But actually when we take a look at the numbers (from the Bureau of Labor Statistics) we find a staggering $656 billion in GDP (27 percent of California’s economic output) that in 2015 came from LA County!

In manufacturing, 341,000 jobs were generated (with close to $25 billion in 2017 wages).  LA boasts the second largest economy and right now – vis-à-vis GDP per capita, global trade and transportation, home prices, municipal debt, corporate equity and jobs – it is doing better than the largest and the third largest (New York and Chicago respectively). So with all of these variables, LA is faring really well.

Homelessness is a synonym often associated with LA but even that seems to not be as bad; in fact in 2018 it actually receded quite significantly.

LA 2019: New Business

New Hotels

A few industries seemed to have made (and will continue the trend in 2019) an impact on LA’s new business scene.  In this article we will take a brief look at two of them from the hospitality industry: hotels and restaurants.

Following are seven new hotels that are set to be built in LA in 2019:

  • Palihotel boutique eastside hotel called the Silver Lake Pool & Inn set to launch in the spring.
  • Hoxton Downtown LA hotel will take over the historic 10-story Los Angeles Railway Authority building on South Broadway, with 174 rooms. There will be four cheekily named room types including Snug for solo travelers, Cosy, Roomy and Biggy. 
  • 220-room Godfrey hotel offer indoor-outdoor event spaces, a destination lobby bar and a casual steakhouse called About Last Knife.
  • Proper Hotel Downtown 148 room hotel will take over the 13-story, red-brick YWCA building on Broadway, which originally opened in 1924
  • Park Hyatt featuring state-of-the-art spa and wellness center, an outdoor pool and deck and a collection of carefully selected partner restaurants and retailers.
  • Fairmont Century Plaza crescent-shaped 19-story tower originally designed by Minoru Yamasaki. It will have 400 rooms, a gourmet café, a brasserie serving American classics and a rooftop bar, among other amenities.
  • Thompson Hotel (to open in late 2019) 200 guestrooms decorated by London-based interior design firm Tara Bernerd & Partners.

Cannabis cafes and lounges have been approved for opening in 2019 in West Hollywood 

According to Eater: “West Hollywood will have actual eateries, lounges, and cafes that allow smoking, vaping, and/or munching on edibles and weed-infused food. “This news is a game-changer, and far surpasses what many describe as a stalled dispensary application process in Los Angeles’ Department of Cannabis Regulation. Throughout the country, there are only seven consumption lounges in San Francisco, one in Oakland, and one in Denver. but WeHo’s group of new businesses could place West Hollywood on par with Amsterdam, Netherlands for cannabis tourism, and maybe eventually surpass it”  

Meanwhile, a restaurant to check out next year if you haven’t done so already is LA’s Somni, which was included in Ann Arbel’s  ‘10 Coolest Places to Eat in 2019,’ article.  One of the chef’s principal workers, Aithor Zabala has been described as “pushing the boundaries of food,  making some of the most avant-garde and all out exciting cuisine in America.”

Los Angeles Licensing News

Officials in LA have come to an arrangement with regulators in California to take the bureaucracy and time lag out of licensing.  Until now, marijuana-based businesses have not been able to get going due to the cumbersome red tape associated with the acquisition of local permits.

Now however, this could come to an end resulting in nearly 600 businesses getting their permits (those that had already applied and not received them yet).  According to a spokesman for the Department of Cannabis Regulation (DCR), this will however, only be for those who paid for the application (so that could be around half) but it’s still a huge step in the right direction.

In other licensing news, an announcement was made by KODAKOne Image Rights Management Platform about its Post-Licensing Portal (PLP) launch.  Featuring image recognition technology and smart web crawling, photographers and rightsholders will be given dependable image usage tracking online capacity as well as a more user-friendly approach, facilitating the transformation of infringers into customers.  As such, the process to license image usages retroactively will also become much simpler. Artificial Intelligence will then be used to enrich image metadata, flag necessary rights clearances and predict licensing value based on similar known images.

Such a “smart contract” will enable license management scaling.  KODAKCoin integration will enable the immediate settlement of licenses along with enhanced monetization and content creator liquidity.  According to RYDE CEO Jan Denecke:

“KODAKOne’s purpose is to legalize rather than criminalize unauthorized image usage and ensure content creators get fairly paid for their work. The PLP is only the first of the platform services and will be enhanced with the KODAKOne blockchain registry and smart contract and management layer.”

BIZCON SoCal 2018

Last month the Omni Los Angeles Hotel at California Plaza hosted the 2018 BIZCON SoCal. The full day conference held on June 20 focused on four main areas:

  1. Business development (including marketing and tech tools)
  2. Gaining access to capital
  3. Networking
  4. Procurement

People shared stories of what worked well and those that did not, as entrepreneurs, new business leaders and managers networked for future ideas. The event was hosted by the LA Area Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the US Small Business Administration in LA.

The Hot Hub of AI Tech: The OC

The OC has become a hub for Artificial Intelligence development.  Featuring 2,400+ technology companies that have their HQ in the area, the OC is also home to America’s top talent in the fields of engineering, math, science and technology.

Vis-à-vis AI, OC companies are able to access more than 415,000 STEM professionals which is the highest for any area throughout Western America. Home to the founding of  Oculus VR, just in the last 5 years, more than $5 billion has been drawn from these companies in VC funding, putting it at Number 9 in America.

One example is Irvine’s Cylance which was the first company to apply AI, machine learning and algorithmic science to cybersecurity.  To date, the firm has received the most cumulative funding in any AI startup – $177 million

Today, companies in Southern California account for most of California’s AI grants awarded by the National Science Foundation and AI experts in the area are in high demand.  It is believed that the OC is likely to become America’s center for AI due to the University of Irvine boasting the largest engineering and computer science program throughout California.  According to a Southern California Association of Governments and OC Business Council chief economic advisor Obviously, Dr. Wallace Walrod. “A.I. ecosystems with big data analytics, in cybersecurity, virtual reality and advanced transportation will fuel future high-paying job growth in this region, both in their own sectors and in the wider economy due to multiplier effects.”

Perhaps not surprisingly therefore,  a new CBRE report, noted a staggering 23 percent increase in OC office rents between Q2 in 2015 and 2017.  One senior manager at CBRE Kurt Strasmann pointed out that while San Francisco and LA have traditionally been the areas to have thrived, the OC “has been kind of a hidden gem.” Now however, tech firms are expanding there, in particular in Irvine due to the supply of many skilled workers in the field as noted above.

New Businesses

The Hawk Pros is a bird abatement business run by Alyssa and Mike Bordonaro which uses hawks to frighten off nuisance birds in public spaces throughout Southern California.

Earlier this month, Boston Private, announced that it will be opening a branch in downtown Los Angeles location at 801 S. Figueroa Street, making it the sixth of its kind in Southern California.  According to the firm’s Director of Community Investment, Esther Schlorholtz: “Having invested over $2 billion in the communities we serve, Boston Private looks forward to growing our efforts in Los Angeles, especially financing affordable housing, businesses and nonprofit organizations.”

Mendocino Farms is set to move to LA too. The sandwich-salad healthy family-friendly eatery is opening its 17th store next month in the region which is a bit of a full circle story since owners Mario Del Pero and Ellen Cohen opened their first one in Downtown LA.   Once again, Los Angeleans will be able to partake of the Kurobuta pork belly banh m and Rescued Vegetable Burger, to name but a few menu items.  The address is the Pruneyard Shopping Center.

 

 

Influencer Marketing

If you want to succeed in marketing in LA and be hip at the same time, influencer marketing is the way to forge ahead.

Originally used by much larger brands and corporations working on big deals, now there are more aspects to it, with second and third tiers, geared toward more customized niches.  Now – thanks to an LA- and southern San Franciscan-based company Unity Influence – this is becoming much more accessible for influencer pitches.

Offering a reasonably priced-machine-learning-enabled solution, now micro-influencers can access small businesses seeking to use their targeted reach for marketing purposes, exposing a new category to the benefits of influencer pitches.

The mission behind the company is to establish an influencer marketing engine more accessible to SMEs and hopefully more successful than what is already out there like AdWords and Facebook campaigns.