Can You Make An Entrepreneur? New Educational Incubator Fika Accelerator Intends To Try

Kiara Rodriguez
Kiara is an editorial intern at dot.LA. She has interned in communications at KCRW, assisted with economics research at Brookings Institution,and reported for local publications in New Jersey. Before joining dot.LA, she was a Yenching Scholar at Beijing University, researching the politics of international communications and leading the Yenching Academy’s podcast. She graduated from Princeton University in 2019 with a B.A. from the School of Public and International Affairs.
Can You Make An Entrepreneur? New Educational Incubator Fika Accelerator Intends To Try

Last fall, Fika Ventures partner Eva Ho and Executive Director Sean Arian helped lead entrepreneurship programs for preselected high school students in working class and immigrant communities in the San Fernando Valley.

What they quickly discovered was that the existing type of entrepreneurship programs and coding bootcamps lacked an exposure to all the non-computer, science-based career offerings in the tech industry.

Many students were uninterested in tech because they didn't know enough about it.

"I also grew up in the same community. I grew up low income. My parents were immigrants from Africa. There was nobody to help me decide what kind of career I would do," Ho said. "I don't think I would've landed in tech without mentors. I didn't know how to network or the opportunities."

The predominately white male tech industry has been under pressure to diversity its ranks, with companies like Snap Inc. and others issuing annual diversity reports. According to their latest diversity report, 84.6% of tech executives are white, and 84.3% are men.

So Ho and Arian regrouped and they came up with a concept: Why not broaden the program to include elements of the tech industry beyond computer science? They also decided to focus on students beyond high school.

Last fall, the duo created the Fika Accelerator, a sort of short apprenticeship with the aim of offering students a paid opportunity to develop skills, understand the tech industry and get a shot at an internship at some of the region's best known tech companies like Snap and Cornerstone OnDemand.

Primarily funded by Los Angeles County, the 120-hour course runs over a seven-week period, after which Fika will evaluate their job readiness and recommend students to selected companies for internship interviews.

The first two weeks of the program will focus on product design, the third and fourth weeks will focus on marketing, the next two weeks on sales, and the last week on career development. Students are required to develop a product, then a marketing plan, then sales plan and lastly a final project.

"I'm about to graduate so I'm trying to figure out other ways to go around the education system," said Trinity Willard, UCLA fourth year with a double-major in Public Affairs and African American Studies.

She developed an interest in product development after working on her Fika Accelerator capstone project.

"They go into so many different parts of the tech space that I learned product development's behind the scenes and brainstorming work is the stream within tech I'm most interested in," said Trinity. "It's the foundation for everything."

The pipeline for internships narrowed last year as most companies either reduced or shut down their internship programs during the pandemic,. Fika aims to open those opportunities back up for its students.

Cornerstone OnDemand, Blackline and Snap, Inc. are just a few of's member companies that have taken interns from past programs, along with smaller companies like Q&A and Open Path.

Ho and Arian envision a long future for Fika Accelerator.

"If L.A. were a nation, it would be the 19th largest economy in the world. We could be doing this program for all ages ranging as young as a 6th grader all the way to graduate students," said Ho. "The potential to impact thousands of people is real. We have big dreams for this. This is just the start."

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.


The Streamys Reveals The Disconnect Between Online Creators and Traditional Media

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is dot.LA's 2022/23 Editorial Fellow. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

tiktok influencers around a trophy ​
Andria Moore /Charli D'Amelio/Addison Rae/JiDion

Every year, the Streamy Awards, which is considered the top award show within the creator economy, reveals which creators are capturing the largest audiences. This past Sunday, the event, held at The Beverly Hilton, highlighted some of the biggest names in the influencer game, chief among them Mr. Beast and Charli D’Amelio. It had all the trappings of a traditional award show—extravagant gowns, quippy acceptance speeches and musical interludes. But, as TikTok creator Adam Rose told The Washington Post, the Streamys still lacks the legitimacy of traditional award shows.

Read moreShow less

Slingshot Aerospace Is Expanding Its Network of Telescopes To Make Tracking Data Even More Accurate

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Slingshot Aerospace Is Expanding Its Network of Telescopes To Make Tracking Data Even More Accurate
Photo: Slingshot Aerospace

Slingshot Aerospace, the El Segundo-based startup developing software for managing objects in space’s orbit, raised $40.9 million to build out its global network of sensors and recruit new customers both private and public.

The round was a follow-on to Slingshot’s $25 million Series A-1 raise in March.

Read moreShow less

BlueLA, The Largest EV Car Sharing Program, Is Expanding

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

charging station
Blink Charging

It ain’t easy being a charging company…or at least a lot of them aren’t making it look easy. Between reports of abysmal charger uptime, declining stock values, lack of standards and meaningless jargon (is “hyper” really faster than “ultra?”), the race to electrify America’s roads has been a bumpy one. For Miami-based Blink Charging, however, the solution to smoothing the transition may be about becoming more than just a charger company.

Read moreShow less