Category Archives: SMEs

LA Startups

Los Angeles seems to be becoming the hub for early-stage startups.  Valuations are incredibly key to the success, especially pre-money ones which – in the first half of 2021 – increased 116%. While most US states saw substantial increases, the real jump was most significant in LA.

According to Kyle Stanford, Pitchbook Senior VC Analyst:

“Especially within hubs, such as L.A., competition for deals has grown considerably in recent years, with the flood of new investors and more capital looking to invest in startups. Los Angeles has, on its own, seen strong fundraising numbers, bringing more local capital to the ecosystem, expanding opportunities for the area’s companies.”

Two examples of this are JOON and LA Tango.  In July, the former raised a $2.3m seed and in August LA Tango raised $5.7m seed round. Today, there are approximately 5,000 startups in LA, many of which are in their early stages.

Facilitating Local Small Businesses

There are many ways to facilitate small businesses, especially in one’s locality.  Small businesses have often struggled to receive assistance but this has been heightened during the coronavirus crisis.

Earlier this month a discussion was held between various officials on what resources the small businesses can access from various federal, local and state programs.  A webinar – CD12 Business Resiliency – was hosted by John Lee, LA City Councilor and attended by: Kathryn Barger (L.A. County Supervisor), Fernando Nieto (Los Angeles County Office of Small Business program manager), Brad Sherman (U.S. Rep.) and Suzette Martinez Valladares (Assembly member) among others. One option that was explored was the benefits small business owners can get from the county’s Small Business Concierge program which was created with the goal of helping new entrepreneurs with the first crucial steps in their business development.  

In addition there is the  Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) which offers personalized technical assistance, is a great resource of information, helps business owners with the bureaucracy of government contacts and can even give training to small businesses in the area.

Included in this plan is the recent signing by the Mayor of a $11.2 billion spending plan for the July 1 budget. Included in this budget is: $2.5- million for the LA Optimized Program (facilitating the digitization of local businesses);  to help businesses get digitized; $25 million for the Comeback program (offering up to $5,000 in grants to pay off debt, purchase new equipment and help with salaries); $5 million for the tourism and hospitality industries (following the huge damage that occurred in these sectors in the coronavirus pandemic) and $1.3 million for street vendors (facilitating their navigation of local bureaucracy as well as the provision of modernized carts so they can be legal and receive permits).

Living with the Pandemic

Life has to go on.  Even with the pandemic and the havoc that it is wreaking on every single aspect of our lives.  Businesses are desperately trying to adapt. That is the only way they have any possible chance of surviving.

Taqueando – the all-you-can eat taco tasting festival – has done just that.  In its first year of operation (2019) it was a regular tasting festival.  But corona hit and this year it looked like it would be impossible to happen.  But the organizers have managed to adapt and thus the festival this year has been renamed Taqueando Takeover. 

The event – lasting five weeks and created in accordance with all coronavirus guidelines – is a pop-up takeout menu.  Featuring taqueros and taqueras devised by James Beard Award winner Bill Esparza, the rotating event took place in Downtown LA at the former Church & State restaurant space.

The first event was held on 12th November and will be followed by a new event each Thursday from 5.30-11.30pm.

Insights to Building a Business in LA

There are many tips from seasoned experts on how to grow one’s company.  When referring to businesses in LA, according to a recent Forbes article,

“Developing a relationship with the local community can be key to your business’ success. It can help give you visibility and attract customers to your establishment. Taking advantage of every resource your community offers to you is also a must if you want to cement the position of your business locally.”

It makes sense.  If locals know about your business they might very well support it.  People like to support the local economy and if it’s marketed well and the product is good they generally prefer using local than going further afield.

But how do you nurture such a relationship?  According to Spencer Chambers of locally-handcrafted Honest Abe Cider, being written up in local newspapers was hugely helpful for his business.  Perhaps the success was also helped by his marketing of being a locally handcrafted business also.

Maybe new business leaders in the area could jump on the bandwagon of the possibility of getting a second Hollywood sign in California.  Should an additional one be built (as has been suggested given the poor location of the first one for this much visited world-renowned icon) perhaps local businesses could find ways to partner with it, publicizing their products and services!  Who knows; these days in the marketing world, anything is worth a try!

Cyber Security Bolstering LA Businesses

The Los Angeles Cyber Lab has just been created by officials in the city.  The idea is to bolster the city’s cyber security by actively spreading data that the government receives – at the Integrated Security Operations Center – (to help their cyber security) to local businesses.  For America, this work is unprecedented.

A joint private-public venture between Cisco and the City of LA (with an advisory board featuring top companies such as Amazon and Microsoft) the aim of the Cyber Lab is to facilitate operations for local companies.  According to LA City’s Chief Information Officer, Ted Ross:

“Taking the resources that the city of Los Angeles is already paying for to protect ourselves, and making them available at no cost to L.A. businesses, it just seems like the right thing to do.  If we can help small-, medium- and large-sized businesses protect themselves against cybercriminals, then I think we’re really helping move the needle, and I think our constituents are getting even more out of their government.”

The three main parts of the initiative can be categorized as follows: cybereducation, threat intelligence and the provision of an innovation incubator (for local businesses to try out the security products and services prior to purchase).

LA SMEs: Thriving?

small-businessMorale among SME proprietors in LA is improving.  Their attitude – and hope – for both their own economies and the economic outlook of the nation as a whole is substantially better than it was half a year ago.  Despite this, according to findings from the fall 2016 Bank of America  Small Business Owner Report, there are still real concerns over increasing healthcare costs, elevated interest rates, the strength of the U.S. dollar and credit availability.

Indeed, while nationwide 37 percent feel that their local economy is set to improve within the next year, in LA, that number is 47 percent. In general though, confidence in the national economy is rising (just not as much as that of LA in particular).  As Small Business Banker Manager at Bank of America Troy Bosch said, finally SME proprietors have been able to “shake off some of the uncertainty” about economic conditions that they encountered earlier in 2016.

COO of VEDC (Valley Economic Development Center), Robert Lopez, explained this phenomenon.  He said: “Small businesses create economic opportunities that extend well beyond the business owner by providing job opportunities and commercial growth in their communities. Wells Fargo and VEDC have a strong history of supporting small business owners and we look forward to continuing our partnership by helping entrepreneurs start and build their businesses.”