Catalyst Kickoff Event Celebrates Emerging Businesses Poised to Bring Manufacturing Back to Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA – August 8, 2018 – MAKE IT IN LA has selected and announced 16 inaugural Fellows for their new Catalyst program (makeitinla.org/catalyst). These founders and CEOs reflect a recent surge in investments in physical products and an untapped opportunity to connect local manufacturing resources. Investment activity in consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies has seen a 58% year-over-year growth, according to CB Insights, and a Deloitte study that estimates by the end of 2018 online sales of consumer products will have increased 350% since 2013. Meanwhile growth in the manufacturing sector in Los Angeles—the largest in the country—has not kept pace, indicating an opportunity to connect emerging businesses and brands to existing factories.
The Catalyst Fellows were formally unveiled at a Kickoff event in Downtown Los Angeles Wednesday night, where they gave fast pitches of their companies. Fellows are members of a larger group of 60 founders selected for Catalyst, a diverse community of creators who are scaling physical products in Los Angeles. In addition to special educational programming and resources, Fellows receive one-on-one support from Catalyst advisors who help them advance their prototypes into production locally. To see all of the Fellows, click here.
The goal of Catalyst is to not only help founders be successful, but to use that momentum to drive economic growth in local manufacturing. The program is inspired by a study released by the Office of Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti that found that 57% of all factories in Los Angeles County had excess capacity, and they were eager to connect with new customers. The manufacturing ecosystem in Los Angeles offers many resources across numerous industries, but it can be hard for emerging businesses to navigate. The study can be found here: maketinla.org/study
“Our factory is seeing a big uptick in interest from designers as well as big brands who want to manufacture products locally,” says Alexander Zar, the owner of a shoe and leather factory in Boyle Heights called La La Land Production and Design. “We’ve grown from 10 to 100 employees in the last six years and forecast this growth will only increase. I look forward to seeing Catalyst help unleash the creative and economic potential of LA.”
Most Catalyst Fellows are based in Los Angeles, but some are joining from as far as the Bay Area, San Diego, and Vancouver. The founders in the community are very diverse: they represent industries ranging from food and fashion to electronics and home goods and 78% are women and minorities.
“We moved to L.A. after graduating from Y Combinator because of the unique intersection of music, tech, and manufacturing capabilities here,” says Brian Fan, one of the Catalyst Fellows and founder of Magic Instruments. “With these local resources, we can get our product to market more quickly and capital-efficiently than by moving production to China.”
“Los Angeles is a global center of manufacturing, technology, design, food and culture. It makes sense that entrepreneurs are drawn to our city to turn their passions into products,” says Krisztina ‘Z’ Holly, the former Vice Provost for Innovation at USC and founder of MAKE IT IN LA. “We’re excited by our surprising range of Fellows—from the two sister-founders of Waffleshot who are working around the clock to meet demand from retailers like Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, to the director of Conservify, a non-profit with a six-figure grant to produce electronic sensors for environmental scientists.”
At this time the program is available at no cost to participants thanks to a grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco and MAKE IT’s sponsors. Gold Sponsors include Califia Farms, LegalZoom, DLA Piper, and the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI). Other Catalyst sponsors include Red Bull, Opportunity Fund, Innovation Protocol, and City National Bank.
The event on August 8 was sponsored by Greenbar Distillery and Kickstarter, with support from Happily, and it featured elevator pitches from the Fellows, remarks from the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, a distillery tour, organic cocktails, Caribbean food by Who’s Hungry Catering, and organic desserts generously provided by Art Delectables.
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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. The non-profit was spun out of Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence program by Krisztina ‘Z’ Holly, a well-known engineer, tech entrepreneur, and the creator of the first TEDx. The initiative is made possible by partners that include the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, Califia Farms, LegalZoom, DLA Piper, and the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI). For more information, visit makeitinla.org.
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