We want to help you “make it” here!
MAKE IT IN LA is a diverse community of creators turning passions into products in Los Angeles. Our mission is to make connections that celebrate and unleash the creative potential of Los Angeles.
Our new Catalyst program is building a select community of creators and connecting them with local manufacturers to grow their businesses. Through workshops, expert advice, exclusive factory tours, and access to other programming and services, we’re helping entrepreneurs and business owners be part of something larger than themselves, and to create products and brands that matter.
Thank you to everyone who applied to CATALYST! We look forward to supporting you. If you missed this round of submissions, subscribe to our newsletter below to be notified when the next cycle opens.
The Application Process
The deadline for Catalyst fellowships was midnight on Sunday, April 15, 2018.
Our expert panel of “catalysts” select the Fellows considering several factors, including your team, your product, your readiness, and the fit between your needs and our expertise and resources. Creators at all stages of development are encouraged to apply, and we are especially drawn to businesses that are on the cusp of production.
Who we are looking for…
We are building a diverse community of creators that manufacture in the Los Angeles region. So if you are leading a brand or product company that is interested in producing locally, we encourage you to apply. The program is open to both emerging and established companies.
To be a Fellow you must:
• Be a CEO, founder, or equivalent
• Run a brand or business that designs physical goods
• Demonstrate customer traction, funding, intellectual property, personal track record, large community platform, or other competitive advantage
• Be interested in manufacturing in the Los Angeles region
• Be eager to learn and connect with peers and take part in the programming appropriate for you (see below)
• Be willing to answer a survey on some metrics before and after the program so we can report (anonymously) to our funders
The Catalyst program is highly selective, and we will choose Fellows based on their team, product, readiness, and fit with the program. But even if you aren’t selected this time around, don’t worry, you might get invited to some of our exclusive programming, which will help get you ready for next time. So if you meet the above criteria, we encourage you to apply!
NOTE if you are a supplier/contract manufacturer: We are continually onboarding CMs that we think might be a fit with our creators. If you’d like to be considered, fill out the form here and we’ll follow up soon. Forgive us if the process is still a bit rough, as we’re more focused on onboarding creators right now. But we’d love to connect with you!
What are the benefits?
• One-on-one coaching from your Lead Catalyst, who is matched to your needs
• Exclusive factory tours, workshops, and experiences (including Red Bull HQ, Stratasys Direct, Two Bit Circus—see FAQ for more details)
• Access to peers and experts through events, occasional ZOOM coaching sessions, and an exclusive Slack workspace
• The ability to tap into the expertise of our broader Catalyst team as needed
• Access to a complimentary year of LegalZoom‘s Business Legal Plan
• Financial planning support and help accessing capital from the Opportunity Fund, as appropriate
• Complimentary license to hardware data management tools from Duro Labs
• Being part of our tribe of like-minded creators and pioneers
• And we have more cool stuff in the works…
What are you looking for in an application?
Applications will be judged on four main criteria:
• Fit with the program
Keep in mind, we are looking for reasons to “invest” in you and vouch for you for local suppliers. When you are seeking a manufacturing partner, you have to convince them to spend resources and take a risk on you. They are not just selling you; you need to sell yourself as well.
So help us understand why you are likely to succeed. We’re looking for things like customer traction, funding, intellectual property, a personal track record, a large community platform, or some other competitive advantage. Just an idea isn’t enough.
Each industry will be a bit different. For example, for a consumer electronics startup, capital is usually very important. But in the case of apparel, a strong brand or customer traction can make your application compelling.
Bottom line: convince us why we should invest in you in a way that sets you apart from the pack in your industry!
What is the selection process?
We will review applications through a three-stage process:
1. Our team evaluates whether an application meets the minimum requirements (see above).
2. Catalysts review applications and determine which ones warrant a deeper dive.
3. Finalists are invited to participate in a very brief videoconference, from which our team will make the final determination.
Fellows will be selected and notified by late May.
My product is confidential. How much do I have to share on the application?
We understand that some of your information might be proprietary and we respect that.
We aim to create a trusted community of peers and advisors. However, MAKE IT IN LA does not sign NDAs covering participant information and we don’t require our Catalysts to sign NDAs to participate in the program. Accordingly, we do not expect you to include in your application any information you feel is highly sensitive.
Explain as much as you feel comfortable with and we’ll do our best to evaluate your idea.
What kind of educational programming can we expect?
Each Fellow will be partnered with a Lead Catalyst who will be your main contact to tap into our collective brain. We will offer virtual group videoconferences with various experts as appropriate.
We’ll launch the program with a celebratory kickoff event in late June, where each Fellow will share a brief elevator pitch with the community.
The core of our in-person educational programming will be Factory Tour Workshops, where you can learn how to partner with suppliers and other relevant services providers—from electronics manufacturers and injection molding plants, to leather shoe factories and packaging and logistics companies.
We also have some surprises in store that are part educational, part inspirational! For example, we’re planning outings to Stratasys Direct for a look into the future of additive manufacturing, Red Bull North America Headquarters for a branding workshop, and a behind-the-scenes tour of Two Bit Circus’ new HQ and micro-amusement park. More to come…
Is this a matching service? Will you find suppliers for me?
Our goal is to build a diverse community of creators and help them grow their businesses through workshops, expert advice, exclusive factory tours, and access to other programming and services.
Helping you find suppliers is a core part of this program. When we can, we will make introductions. And more importantly, we want to help prepare you to partner with manufacturing partners and know how to find and vet them yourself. Ultimately it will be your responsibility to make sure they are a fit.
Just as important is the community we are building. If you are only looking for a list of contract manufacturers, this probably isn’t the program for you.
I'm a contract manufacturer. How can I connect with your community?
We are continually onboarding CMs that we think might be a fit with our creators. If you’d like to be considered, fill out the form here and we’ll follow up soon. Forgive us if the process is still a bit rough, as we’re more focused on onboarding creators right now. But we’d love to connect with you!
What is the time commitment?
The Fellowship lasts a year and the time commitment depends on your needs. Not all of the programming will be relevant to everyone, so none of the programming is “required,” except for the kickoff events twice a year and an occasional videoconference. Beyond that, you should take part only in the activities that will help make you successful.
But our expectation is you’ll find the community and these exclusive experiences the reason you want to take part! We’re investing in you because you’re curious and filled with hustle, and we believe our Catalysts and your peers can add value to your company.
If you maximized your participation, you might spend 5-10 hours per month—a couple hours connecting with Catalysts and your peers (virtually or in person) and a few hours at a Factory Tour Workshop or other event—in addition to the two kickoff events during the year.
Either way, we are eager for feedback to make sure what we are offering is valuable to you.
I'm not sure if I'm ready, should I apply?
We are looking for founders and CEOs who plan to go into production within a year, and ideally around 6 months.
If you aren’t sure you are ready, as long as you have a compelling product and meet our minimum requirements (see above), we encourage you to apply. We’ll invite some of our applicants to be part of a broader Catalyst Community and to take part in some of our exclusive programming that we think is a good fit. By applying, you can be on our radar.
Do I have to live in L.A.?
Catalyst can be appropriate for remote teams that are an easy flight or drive away. If you visit LA frequently and are serious about locating production in the area, we encourage you to apply.
Much of the Catalyst support can and will be done virtually. We use a Slack workspace and most meetings will be by phone or videoconference. When it comes to the in-person programming, it’s ok if you only participate in the kickoff events and a couple of the tours.
That said, our goal is to create a diverse community of creators that can learn from each other. So if you have no plans to participate in any of the local community or events at all, we ask that you leave a slot to someone else.
Is there a cost to be a Catalyst Fellow?
Thanks to our sponsors and our volunteers, we are able to make the program available at no cost to Catalyst Fellows at this time. Some events might have a nominal fee to help cover administrative costs. But after reviewing applications, we will award a select group of creators a full fellowship to the program.
Sounds amazing! Is there a catch?
Well, you have to be selected! So make sure to apply by the deadline.
The only things we ask of you:
• Make the most of the program and play an active part in the Catalyst Community
• Give us feedback after each event and report annually on a few key metrics so we can share them back to our funders and learn
• Pay it forward through word of mouth, and helping other creators, sponsors, and manufacturers learn from you
• Be kind to our sponsors!
As we are a non-profit that supports creators and manufacturers with minimal resources, we welcome more introductions to potential partners so we can grow our community and continue to deliver our programming at nominal cost.
Our Catalyst experts
The Catalysts make this program special. These trusted advisors have deep expertise in manufacturing and bringing a product to market, across many industries and disciplines.
Have a question about hardware, shoes, food, textiles, sustainability, operations, pricing, branding…? We’ll match you with a Catalyst that will guide you, or try to find someone else that can. We’ll be adding more catalysts as we learn about the needs of the community.
City of Los Angeles
The 22 Fund
Exporting and Fundraising
Supply Chain and Operations
Thanks to our Sponsors who make this program possible
Gold level sponsors:
And thanks also to Red Bull, Kickstarter, and other generous supporters.