2018 Catalyst Fellows

Through MAKE IT IN LA’s new Catalyst program, we are building a select community of creators and helping them scale their production in Los Angeles.

Below are the 16 impressive entrepreneurs we’ve selected as Catalyst Fellows to date. They are leading companies we believe have the potential to bring manufacturing back to Los Angeles. They will get connections to resources and each other, access to special programming, and one-on-one help from our Catalysts. To learn more about the program, see our announcement and the Catalyst page.

Brian Fan

Magic Instruments

Magic Instruments’ digital guitar makes it possible for anyone, including people with no musical background, to play their favorite songs in minutes, and is an easier way to learn to play traditional guitar. They’ve raised $2.4M and pre-sold $500,000 in guitars which they are about to start producing  in Los Angeles. Brian moved the company from the Bay Area after graduating from Y Combinator because of LA’s vast ecosystem of manufacturing service companies that can help hardware startups to scale. magicinstruments.com

Micki Krimmel

Superfit Hero

Superfit Hero (@superfithero) is a body positive fitness apparel line with a mission to empower women. Los Angeles-made, their signature leggings have been tested and approved by athletes sized XS-5XL, making it the most inclusive premium activewear brand on the planet. Micki’s commitment to celebrating athletes of all sizes has led to a loyal following and sudden rapid growth, pushing them into a new phase that will require greater scale. superfithero.com

Lauren Hill

Bella Notte Linens

Bella Notte Linens is a family-owned business (@bellanottelinens) creating luxury bedding for real life. Each piece is crafted in California with attention to detail, and then dyed to order in their unique color palette. Headquartered in the Bay Area for the last 20 years, the company has perfected small batch manufacturing at scale. Lauren and her partners are taking the business into a new phase of growth with their launch into e-commerce, and are looking to expand production south to Los Angeles. bellanottelinens.com

Shah Selbe


Conservify (@conservify) is a nonprofit technology development lab that identifies and deploys technologies to address some of the greatest environmental and wildlife conservation challenges. Shah’s team has raised more than $1 million in grants from the National Geographic Society and others to develop and manufacture FieldKit. It’s an easily customizable open-source platform that enables individuals and organizations around the world to deploy environmental sensor networks, collect and share data, and tell stories through interactive visualizations. conservify.org

Mylen Yamamoto


Cropsticks (@cropsticksco) by Cropmade is an innovative chopstick with a built-in rest made from sustainable bamboo that can be found in more than 70 restaurants, hotels and distributors including most recently, Disneyland. Mylen’s commitment to a greener environment for future generations drove her to begin a chopstick upcyling program, which collects used Cropsticks and turns them into table tops, flooring, and more. They are working to bring the manufacturing process to the city of L.A. cropsticks.co  

Jerry Gross


G-RO is obsessed with improving the travel experience. They envision, design and construct human-centric products to make every journey seamless and delightful. The Company raised $4.7M on Kickstarter for their first product—a carry-on bag featuring their patented signature, over-sized, axle-less wheels—in the largest ever crowdfunding campaign for luggage. G-RO has raised $5.5M in equity capital to expand the business. They are eager to produce their next products locally because they believe it will enable them to be more nimble and reduce total costs. G-RO.com

Leslie King

King Nutronics

King Nutronics Corporation is an industry leader in the manufacture of innovative test instruments. Founded by Leslie’s father 60 years ago, the company’s products are used daily by the United States Armed Forces and NASA and in other punishing environments for the defense, aircraft, avionics, petrochemical, pharmaceutical and utility industries worldwide. She is taking this second-generation business into a new growth phase through the acquisitions of new products.  kingnutronics.com

Shamil Hargovan


Wiivv (@wiivvit) believes when you harness your uniqueness you move and live your best, delivering products from the ground up starting with custom insoles and sandals. Headquartered in Vancouver, they manufacture on-demand products personalized from photographs made from your smartphone. They have raised $12M to date, have grown the business 4x year over year, and are looking to expand to other categories. Shamil brings extensive 3D printing and advanced manufacturing experience and is looking to expand production into Los Angeles to be closer to potential partners and the epicenter of the lifestyle consumer market. wiivv.com

Ben Sax


An artist and an inventor, Ben founded Perceptoscope (@perceptoscope) to bring immersive storytelling to everyday people. It’s a modern-day augmented reality “coin-operated” binocular that visually overlays objects and information onto the world around you. Imagine watching the battle unfold on the fields of Gettysburg or witnessing geologic transformation as a river carves the Grand Canyon over millennia. The project has received a US Utility Patent and a grant from the National Science Foundation to develop and deploy its first production of Perceptoscopes. perceptoscope.com

Marvin V Acuna

Plant Craft Foods

81 million Americans can’t eat cheese because they are lactose intolerant, and the U.S. has experienced a 600% increase in people identifying as vegans in the last three year.  Plant Craft Foods is tapping into this opportunity with a 100% organic, nutrient-rich, whole food, made-from-scratch, plant-based cheese and protein company. Marvin and his team have 30 plus years of hospitality and marketing experience, and they rolled out their first product this summer via the first totally organic, plant based pizza company, The Pizza Plant.

Ashley Miyasaki

Pulp Pantry

Most people don’t know the rapidly growing juice industry generates 20 billion pounds of food waste per year. Pulp Pantry (@pulppantry) is a sustainable food company that upcycles surplus juice pulp to create healthy reinventions of classic snacks — think Cinnamon Toast Crunch but made from 50% carrot pulp! What’s more, Ashley and her team are uniquely able to monetize their supply chain, getting paid to collect their raw materials from food producers who otherwise must spend as much as $1 million to manage their waste. pulppantry.com

Jaleh Factor

Sourcing Theory

Sourcing Theory is a Los Angeles garment factory built on ideals of transparency, fairness, and quality. Jaleh is exploring plans to develop factory-owned brands with a worker ownership component. sourcingtheory.com  

Kei Okumura

Sugarbird Sweets

Sugarbird Sweets (@sugarbirdsweets) is an artisanal scone and tea company. They’re rethinking the scone: crunchy yet moist in unique flavor combinations like fig rosemary and bacon and date. Sugarbird started 8 years ago and have been selling frozen dough to consumers. This year they’re focused on scaling their wholesale distribution and production five-fold. Sugarbird welcomes any intros to potential customers so they can expand into new markets like cruise lines and hotel groups. sugarbirdsweets.com

Sica Schmitz

Bead & Reel

Bead & Reel (@beadandreel) is an online community for mindful fashion. As one of the leading vegan fashion blogs and retailers as well as the winner of the Sustainable Business Council Award, Sica’s company is developing their first in-house, locally-made product line in response to high customer demand. It will debut at their 4th annual Fair Trade Fashion Show. beadandreel.com  

Naomi & Dorit Kashi


Waffleshot (@waffleshot) is an edible cup made from a waffle cone and coated with Belgian chocolate. You can fill it with your favorite warm coffee or frozen ice cream, and it’s a treat that’s better for the environment. The product was featured by Oprah and has been flying off the shelves at retailers like Nordstrom, Dillards, and Neiman Marcus. The company was founded by two sisters, Naomi and Dorit, who are scaling their production in response to intense demand and a move into groceries. waffleshot.com  

Christopher Dro

Sous Temp

Chris is the founder of Async (@async), a product development agency that specializes in IoT hardware and application development. Async introduces Sous Temp, a first-in-class temperature monitoring system for commercial refrigeration units. Sous Temp utilizes a small sensor and an accompanying app that allows users to monitor temperatures 24/7, access history logs, and receive real-time alerts. It prevents food spoilage, reduces labor, and simplifies regulatory compliance. soustemp.com