The geeks are taking over Los Angeles!
Of course, by “geeks” we affectionately mean tech-savvy pros with a knack for building booming startups.
The city known as La La Land — where people are always dreaming, and often dreams come true — is becoming a dream city for up-and-coming technology geeks. More and more startups, incubators, investors, tech festivals and tech crawls are making it the trendy place to be for California tech aficionados.
There are nearly 600 startups in L.A., aka Silicon Beach. And it’s only the beginning.
It’s not just the year-round sunny weather that’s drawing in tech entrepreneurs. Folks are drawn in by the tech culture, talent and growing network sprouting in L.A. Local councilman Eric Garcetti has even made “growing the shores of Silicon Beach” a campaign promise in his mayoral bid.
Here’s a closer look at Silicon Beach:
Tech Startup Community Growing
There were plenty of people working on tech products in L.A. six or seven years ago, “but there was no startup support system or co-working spaces to get advice or spread the word on your project,” says Faran Thomason, who works at mobile web development company Jungle Cat Productions in Culver City.
But just in the last year or so, great companies have been putting on awesome events and tours in L.A, he says, which has helped create a stronger tech-community in the area.
“Now, there are multiple co-working spots with excited and motivated developers eager to listen and share ideas,” Thomason says.
SoCal Weather and Something to Prove
The year-round sunny, beach weather is incredibly conducive to fun, outdoor social activities. Lots of Silicon Beach pros have get-togethers in the form of volleyball games, running and cycling.
“I can tell you, having a brainstorming meeting out on the beach isn't very hard to get used to,” says Rob Rohan, startup veteran and CTO at The Rohans LLC, an incubator.
While there’s more Vitamin D to be enjoyed, some Silicon Beach techies feel a bit more pressure for entrepreneurs and investors to work hard and build up the tech scene.
“[Silicon Valley] is already established and people seem to be a little more laid back,” says Scott Ferreira, founder and CEO of MySocialCloud.com “Most of my friends in the Valley seem to move at a different pace than those of us here in Silicon Beach.”
But, What’s Missing?
Evident by this awesome interactive map, Silicon Beach contains some of the key ingredients in the recipe for a tech-mecca. With 591 startups to date and several accelerators, incubators, co-working spaces, investors, consultants and events — what’s Silicon Beach missing to create an even more booming tech environment?
Startup knowhow, for one.
“There are lots of savvy business people with good ideas, quite a few people willing to fund those idea, but there aren't many people that can build,” Rohan says. “There are people who know how to write code and create third form normalized databases and configure an Nginx server, but I've found it difficult to find tech people who know how to build a startup.”
In Silicon Valley, the majority of the team had been through at least one startup, he says.
“They knew the fundamental things that I think only come with experience and lots of previous failures.”
In fact, a huge part of Silicon Valley’s triumph is their deep-rooted culture of what Rohan calls the “Recursive Geek Cycle.” It’s a culture where “well off, knowledgeable geeks mentored new and upcoming geeks and passed on ‘startup knowledge,’ which hasn’t been, and probably can’t be taught in schools” Rohan says.
Rohan says he hasn’t seen the Recursive Geek Cycle happen anywhere else. Because in most cases, entrepreneurs start a company and hire technologists to build it.
What Silicon Beach needs is more startup mentors.
So, will La La Land become the next Silicon Valley?
Frankly — not anytime soon, according to every L.A.-based technology or startup expert we spoke with.
Both Thomason and Ferreira agree that Silicon Beach is in its infancy.
“I think that there will be a lot of ups and downs over the next two to three years before people really start looking here and saying, ‘Silicon Beach is truly the place to build your startup.’ ” Ferreira says. “But the more people talk about it and move here the faster it will happen.”
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