create / 2015

MADE in Long Beach: Fostering independent entrepreneurship to accelerate the local economy

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Localism Inc.

Localism is developing a “trifecta” business accelerator, culinary accelerator, and tech makerspace called MADE. We create opportunity for innovative local entrepreneurs, and lower their risk threshold to help them grow. Our vision is to make these projects scalable, sustainable and repeatable for diverse communities.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Long Beach; LA County

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Conduct research
  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Implement a pilot or new project
  • Expand a pilot or a program
  • Advocate with policymakers and leaders

How will your proposal improve the following “Create” metrics?

  • Employment in the creative industries
  • Arts establishments per capita
  • Patents per capital
  • Jobs per capita
  • Number of high growth startups
  • Percentage of graduates from local higher education institutions that remain in LA County 5 years after graduating (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to create.

MADE is a project that promotes “local self-reliance,” as defined by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Our project aims to a) attract and keep talented people; b) use place to connect opportunity for all; and c) use place to accelerate civic engagement. MADE’s model advances independent entrepreneurs by 1) mitigating the early stage risks to starting a retail brand or opening a storefront; 2) mitigating common pitfalls and barriers by directing entrepreneurs through “pipelines” such as permitting and distribution channels; 3) attracting cross-marketing value to these businesses by utilizing technology and Metcalfe’s Law (the network effect); and 4) providing “hosted retail” so local business owners can focus their time and money on making their goods rather than renting space to sell their goods. Localism has also developed a technology and media platform to strategically provide these businesses with advantages typically reserved for major brands. The extent of this project is to develop a scalable, sustainable and repeatable model for diverse communities.

Primary prototype participants are independent entrepreneurs who have a product, a business growth plan, and reflect the socioeconomic diversity of the locality of Long Beach. Secondary prototype participants are product makers who can scale through manufacture, merchants who plan to open storefronts, and artisans who can increase their value by elevating their craft and training apprentices.

Currently MADE showcases products from over 100 local makers and merchants, distributes products to key destinations such as Renaissance Hotel, Working Class Kitchen, and is working with the Long Beach Airport, and the CVB for further exposure of the MADE in Long Beach brand. In the first 10 months since opening at least 25 living wage jobs have been created, half of which are tech jobs. Several of these businesses are ready to expand beyond MADE and are actively looking for space to lease. Over 200 makers are on the waiting list to get their products in MADE, many of which are cottage foodmakers. MADE is seeking funding not just to expand facilities, but also to increase to capacity to foster the types of great businesses that reflect the unique character of Long Beach. In addition to our incubator services, we have hosted over 50 events, ranging from fashion and art shows to hackathons and maker expos. We also offer innovation-based STEM classes for children and adults.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

Primary participant impact of our accelerator by evaluating the following basic factors: increased financial well-being of participants based on living wage income, and increased business revenue growth. The secondary, wider participant impact is measured in numbers: increased number of products produced and sold, increased participants able to lease retail space, increased participants able to distribute to additional locations, increased creation of jobs and hiring of local residents. In addition, we understand our broader responsibility to the local community. We utilize media campaigns to move people from Apathy to Awareness, but when we track behavior we don’t always see Awareness resulting in Action. Through our platform we offer incentives and tools that motivate people to move from Awareness to Action, with a change in their behavior to support their local community. Then some are inspired to Advocacy which completes the circle. The incentives allow us to track actionable data.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)
  • Education/training
  • Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support
  • Quality improvement research