Small Business Accelerator Finds Success in South LA

Written by The Los Angeles Sentinel

South Los Angeles businesses are experiencing a renaissance. COVID-19 has presented obstacles and setbacks, however, our community is resilient and local leaders are leveraging every available resource to support entrepreneurs and ensure they can thrive despite this crisis.Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson has partnered with Grid110 to support emerging South LA entrepreneurs and businesses. Grid110 is an accelerator aimed at helping new entrepreneurs build and grow strong, sustainable businesses and established business owners take their ventures to the next level.

“This partnership with Grid110 creates a clearer pathway to success for businesses in South Los Angeles, said Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson. Grid110 empowers entrepreneurs by connecting them to mentors, critical resources and a supportive community of their peers. This program takes an equitable approach to ensure our small business owners have a fighting chance to succeed.”

Grid110 is a city supported non-profit that focuses on helping business owners that are often overlooked within the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Traditionally, only 3% of venture capital dollars go to women and 3% go to people of color. Grid110 works to reduce these disparities. Of the 140+ Grid110 companies to go through the program since it started 4 years ago, 60% had a female founder and 69% had a person of color at the helm. Grid110 participants have gone on to raise capital from key investors and get into some of the most competitive startup accelerators in the world.

“We have a unique opportunity to play a defining role in shaping the identity of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Los Angeles, said Miki Reynolds, Executive Director of Grid110. To ensure that it more accurately reflects what the city of Los Angeles actually looks like. This has been a unifying connection between the work that myself, Austin Clements and our partners do every single day. We are excited to expand our programs in such a meaningful way.”

After five years of successfully running their programs in Downtown LA, Grid110 is expanding to South LA. Historically, startup programming like this has only been available downtown and on the westside. Grid110 has run their two programs in Downtown LA – Residency, a 12 week program to help established businesses grow and Idea 2 Product (I2P), an 8 week program to help entrepreneurs turn their concepts into real products. This expansion in South LA will run both programs concurrently supporting 15-20 companies.

The South LA program will be led by Austin Clements, an established venture capitalist born and raised in Ladera Heights. Clements is the Chair of PledgeLA, an initiative between Mayor Garcetti and Annenberg Foundation that promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion across the Los Angeles tech ecosystem.

“I grew up immersed in the talent and innovation this community cultivates, said Austin Clements, managing Director of Grid 110. “Much of what drives me professionally is connecting people with skills and potential to opportunities. It’s a privilege to bring South LA the quality resources and network that supports entrepreneurs in other parts of the city.”

The I2P and the Residency programs are free for all participants and give priority to businesses that plan to engage and contribute to the South LA community. Companies must go through an application process to be eligible and Grid110 does not take equity in or provide funding to any I2P company. Founders that currently live in South LA, have their business based in South LA or intend to launch their business in South LA are encouraged to apply. For the purpose of this program, South LA residency includes addresses in Council Districts 8, 9, 10 and the Watts portion of CD15.

Entrepreneurs from any field, sector, or industry are encouraged to apply. Knowledge and skills taught and reviewed during the program are applicable and transferable to all sectors & industries. Traditionally, businesses are tech enabled, however, you do not need to be a “tech company” to be considered. Past participants include companies across various types of products/services: SaaS, mobile apps, e-commerce, CPG, food, social enterprises, fashion, B2B software, health/wellness, AI, sports, beauty and retail. Non-profit organizations are also encouraged to apply and all sessions are hosted at Vector90, at 6111 S Gramercy Place. Vector 90 was chosen for its role as an incubator and coworking space in the heart of South Los Angeles.

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