create Winner / 2020
Grid110 South LA
Grid110 provides free accelerator programs (no cost/no equity taken) to early stage founders in Los Angeles, connecting them to a growing community of fellow entrepreneurs, expert mentorship, and critical resources. We’re expanding programs into South Los Angeles, which is primarily Black & Latinx. Given the mere fraction of funding/loans allocated to women and people of color particularly, it’s imperative that support be prioritized to historically marginalized communities in an effort to level the playing field for economic mobility.
Has your proposal changed due to COVID-19?
We have completed 13 accelerator cohorts in person over the past 5 years in Downtown LA, but at the onset of LA’s Safer At Home orders in mid-March, physically meeting in person became impossible. We made the immediate decision to take our programs virtual for the Spring sessions, which kicked off in early April. We have been able to successfully pivot to an online program model, while still offering the same curriculum, resources and support for our entrepreneurs.
With this experience, we remain confident in our original proposal as it stands given our abilities to launch the proposed South LA programs in part or entirely as an online program this summer (if necessary). This also extends to events, office hours and other community focused efforts we plan to run alongside the programs. In the event we’re able to host our events and programs in person, we have already secured an incredible partner in Vector90, a South LA based coworking space and cultural hub.
We have the opportunity to rebuild our city much more equitably than many would have ever thought possible. In order for that to happen we have to provide under-resourced communities with the same quality of guidance and mentorship available to wealthier communities. Without this, we are constraining our city to rebuild to the same economic disparities. Grid110 expanding to South LA takes aim at this challenge head on in mission and in practice.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- South LA
In what stage of innovation is this project?Expand existing program
If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.
We believe strongly in the power of community partners and would not be where we are today without them. We currently have several formal and informal established partnerships (Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti being our primary partner) as well as several in discussions for South LA, but we are submitting this proposal as an individual organization.
What is the need you’re responding to?
73% of LA residents identify as a person of color, but our startup ecosystem does not reflect that. The path to success as a startup founder is starkly homogenous and typically attributed to access to networks, capital and critical resources that marginalized communities have been locked out of. We’re working to level the playing field and create a pathway that is more accessible and inclusive through our program and community development.
South LA is home to ~20% of Los Angeles residents, where 96% identify as Black or Latinx. We see tech and entrepreneurship as keys to economic mobility. Our proposed plans include launching our core programs South LA to support the entrepreneurs in the area, in partnership with local community organizations and key stakeholders. In an effort to impact as many entrepreneurs as possible, our goal is to reach 1,000 entrepreneurs/year through not only these core programs, but also events, advisor hours and workshops that will be open to the public.
Why is this project important to the work of your organization?
Now in our 6th year as an organization, we have supported 146 companies through our core programs and thousands of entrepreneurs through free events, workshops and office hours. 69% of our companies are led by a female founder and 63% are led by a founder of color. They have gone on to raise $18M+ in funding and created 80+ local jobs.
Grid110 was founded with the desire to build community where we felt one didn’t exist and to foster a more inclusive ecosystem for entrepreneurs to thrive. This mindset is embraced by every aspect of our community, from our team to our entrepreneurs to our partners. Additionally, our programs are free: no cost, no equity taken. Our mission and unique model have enabled us to attract and support a community of founders whether their company is venture scale or sustainable growth, tech or non-tech, for profit or non-profit. As a result, we’ve supported over 140 companies, with 69% led by female founders and 60% led by founders of color.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.
Our core programs aim to support 30-40 companies over the course of the year, plus 1000 additional entrepreneurs through educational events, office hours, and other community building activities. The South LA region has very limited resources for tech/tech enabled businesses, which we believe have the ability to be economic equalizers. By providing mentorship, community, support, access to funding and other key resources, we believe we can empower entrepreneurs to create sustainable businesses, new jobs and generational wealth. The success of these companies will create bring capital infusion into the area. We anticipate that for each entrepreneur directly served, we will be able to impact 3.5 additional people (staff, family, community).
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
Key metrics for success that we track would be:
- Number of companies supported through the programs and completion rate
- Number of entrepreneurs supported through events, advisor hours and workshops
- Business starts
- Funding obtained
- Revenue growth
- Jobs created
Our vision for success is to build a thriving, dynamic and inclusive entrepreneurship community in South LA. To increase our impact and support of companies year by year. To enable more entrepreneurs to get the access to resources, capital, mentorship and community that they need, regardless of where they are in the lifecycle of building their business. Traditional business coaching programs exist through the Business Source Centers and one-off events through various community organizations. We want to bring all of these entities together through collaboration - not competition - in order to create multiple touch points for the business community.
Which of the create metrics will your submission impact?
- Minority- and women-owned businesses
- High-growth startups
- Venture capital investment
Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?
- LA is the best place to LEARN
- LA is the best place to CONNECT
Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?
- Access to the LA2050 community
- Communications support