Los Angeles’ Top Startup Incubators and Accelerators

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 samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Alexandra Levitt and Mike Su
Snap Yellow accelerator program heads\u00a0Alexandra Levitt (left) and\u00a0Mike Su.

Whether you are making medical devices or movies, if you have a promising startup chances are there’s someone out there to help.

Southern California is home to an armada of accelerators, incubators, startup studios and other programs designed to help new business owners develop their vision and launch the next billion-dollar business.

Some of these programs are run by investors, who often go on to back the companies they incubate in later rounds. Others were created as a way for existing companies like the Walt Disney Co. or the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team to mine talent in their backyard for future revenue opportunities. Programs like the LA Cleantech Incubator target companies from across the globe that are developing tech to mitigate the climate crisis.

While some accelerators opt to provide funding outright in exchange for an equity stake, some prefer to not financially invest, and instead offer founders a place to work, access to mentors, and a full calendar of networking opportunities to help them connect to investors who might look to cut a check.

Local companies that grew from accelerators include Dollar Shave Club, which began at Mike Jones’ Science Inc. in Santa Monica and was sold to Unilever for $1 billion in 2016. Bill Gross’ Pasadena-based IdeaLab has also led several startups to big exits, including crypto exchange Coinbase which was valued at $80 billion when it completed an IPO this April.

Most of these accelerators accept applicants from both in and outside LA County, and some offer virtual workshops. Here’s a list of the top programs in LA that are helping new startups get off the ground.



AmplifyLA’s accelerator backs early-stage companies that are local to L.A. County. Besides funding them through its accelerator, it works with startups in all industries to connect them to a network of L.A.-based startup founders and investors to raise additional funding once they leave the program. Notable past companies that used AmplifyLA include wine subscription firm Winc and on-demand moving and storage company Clutter.

Location: Venice Beach

Type of Funding: Pre-seed, early stage

Focus: Software, emerging technology companies, D2C brands


Serial entrepreneur Bill Gross founded IdeaLab in 1996, and it’s since backed over 150 companies and seen 45 of those either go public or be sold. IdeaLab backs companies regardless of their growth stage or industry but has a history of backing tech companies focused on environmental or social change. Success stories include robotics firm Elementary, crypto exchange Coinbase and GIF database Tenor.

Location: Pasadena

Type of Funding: All stages, focus on seed and early stage

Focus: Agnostic, focused on any tech company

TechStars LA

Techstars is a global outfit with a chapter in Los Angeles that opened in 2017. It prioritizes local companies but will fund some firms based outside of L.A. Director Matt Kozlov said Techstars L.A. looks to fund a wide range of companies but does try to target ones working in industries that are strong in L.A., like healthcare, artificial intelligence, e-commerce, retail, property tech, software as a service, and consumer tech.

Location: Downtown Los Angeles

Type of Funding: Pre-seed, seed rounds

Focus: Aerospace, energy, robotics, wellness, entertainment, mobility/logistics, education
Notable Companies: Sanity Desk, Lightbox


Grid110 offers founders two programs: a 12-week residency program for early-stage startups in L.A. that haven’t launched yet, and another 12-week ‘friends and family’ program run in partnership with L.A.-based venture firm Slauson & Co. that offers a $20,000 grant and course aimed at “demystifying funding” and guiding founders. Unlike some accelerators on this list, Grid110 doesn’t require an equity stake in a company in exchange for participating.

Location: Downtown Los Angeles
Type of Funding: Early stage, seed

Focus: Agnostic, focused on any tech company

Notable Companies: Rent a Romper, Struct Club

Science Inc. Studio

Michael Jones’ Science is a venture capital firm focused on funding early stage startups, and it also runs a venture accelerator that’s incubated some big direct-to-consumer brands, including Dollar Shave Club and PlayVS. Founders work out of Science’s campus in downtown Santa Monica where they collaborate with Jones and other entrepreneurial mentors as well as a staff of marketing, tech, and business development professionals to get their idea off the ground. Usually, Science contributes these services in exchange for a board seat and/or equity in a startup.

Location: Santa Monica

Type of Funding: Early stage VC, seed rounds

Focus: Mobile companies, direct-to-consumer, marketplace and e-commerce

Notable Companies: Dollar Shave Club, Liquid Death, PlayVS, Arrive


Santa Monica-based VC Mucker Capital also runs Mucker Lab, its accelerator for startups that are either in their earliest stages of development or looking to grow by spinning off a business unit or revamping their strategy. It invests in an array of tech companies but prefers direct-to-consumer businesses. There’s no set duration for its program, but most founders work with Mucker for at least a year. Mucker invests between $100,000 and $175,000 in companies in exchange for an 8% to 15% equity stake.

Location: Santa Monica

Type of Funding: Pre-seed, or spin-off

Focus: Agnostic, focused on any tech or direct-to-consumer company

Notable Companies: ServiceTitan, Trunk Club, Honey

SAM Preccelerator

Law firm Stubbs Alderton & Markiles founded its six month preccelerator program to provide startups with access to other valuable resources besides funding -- including workshops, mentorship and a package of legal services and perks it estimates is worth $500,000. Notable alumni include location-based marketing startup Rally.

Location: Santa Monica

Type of Funding: Doesn’t contribute funding, provides networking, mentorship and legal services

Focus: Agnostic, focused on any tech company


Disney Accelerator

One of the world’s largest entertainment companies, Disney is always on the hunt for new investments that can enhance its growing streaming, parks and entertainment businesses. It accepts growth-stage startups that are looking to use tech to change the entertainment industry and runs a three-month summer program that culminates in a demo day in October. Disney will invest in these startups in addition to co-working space in L.A. and mentorship from Disney executives. Though Disney often plans to strike deals to use some startups’ tech in its business, companies that develop IP during the accelerator retain full ownership of it.

Location: Burbank

Type of Funding: Growth stage, venture-backed startups encouraged

Focus: Media/entertainment, streaming, social media, kids’ entertainment

Notable Companies: Epic Games, Holler, Caffeine


Snap Inc.’s Yellow accelerator is a 13-week program for startups developing anything that could enhance digital entertainment, including direct-to-consumer brands, new social apps, creative tools or augmented reality experiences. Snap invests up to $150,000 in each startup and provides a network of creative industry executives as mentors. It invests with the aim of using startup tech in future Snapchat or Snap Inc. projects.

Location: Santa Monica

Type of Funding: Stage agnostic

Focus: Companies at the “intersection of creativity and technology”


Starbust Aerospace Accelerator

The Starburst Aerospace Accelerator connects aerospace and defense startups with a network of mentors that help them fundraise and hire. It’s also a way for startups to gain inroads to potentially valuable contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense, which is always looking for the next SpaceX. The company also partners with UCLA's school of engineering to offer a 13 week Scale accelerator program, aimed at seed and pre-seed startups.

Location: Los Angeles

Type of Funding: Doesn’t contribute funding, provides networking, mentorship, fundraising help

Focus: Aerospace, defense

Notable Companies: SeaSatellites, Pierce Aerospace


Los Angeles Dodgers Accelerator

Founded in 2015 as a partnership between R/GA Ventures’ Global Sports Venture Studio and the L.A. Dodgers, this program provides up to $120,000 to local sports-focused startups in exchange for up to 6% equity. Originally for a limited time, the outfit expanded to be a year-round program in 2018.

Location: Los Angeles

Type of Funding: pre-seed, seed

Focus: Sports tech, food and beverage, sports entertainment

Notable Companies: Appetize, ShotTracker


Movember Rooted & Rising

Movember is a men’s health charity that encourages people to grow mustaches in November to raise awareness of suicide prevention, testicular and prostate cancer, but it recently launched the Rooted & Rising division to invest in creators. Rooted & Rising backs young Black creators who are creating culture-shifting art and provides them with a network of like-minded mentors and in exchange for creating up to three pieces of content during the three-month program.

Location: Los Angeles

Type of Funding: Individual funds, up to $5,000 each

Focus: Creatives of color


The Starfish Accelerator was created this year to give creative people of color funds and mentorship to create projects. Backed by the Doris Duke Foundation, participants are given a $50,000 grant and access to several mentors for six months to produce their work.

Location: Los Angeles

Type of Funding: Individual funds, up to $50,000 each

Focus: Creative IP, creatives of color

Expert Dojo

Expert Dojo is an international group with a cohort in Santa Monica. It prioritizes backing women-led startups and companies run by people of color. It invests an initial sum of $25,000 to $100,000 in participating pre-seed and seeded startups, and often invests in follow-on rounds up to $1 million. Local success stories include travel app Elude and influencer booking site Mavens List.

Location: Santa Monica

Type of Funding: Pre-seed, seed

Focus: Tech companies led by women and/or people of color


LA Cleantech Incubator (LACI)

LACI’s goal is to fund startups that are both local and global that will create technologies to mitigate the effects of climate change and create greener, smarter cities. It runs several programs including a two year-long incubator where companies work out of its Downtown LA office, and invests in up to 50 startups each year.

Location: Arts District

Type of Funding: Pre-seed, seed, Series A and B

Focus: Clean energy, renewables/sustainability, solar, smart cities


UCLA Anderson Venture Accelerator

UCLA’s venture accelerator is a four-month program that has incubated over 70 companies, which have raised $144 million in funding. Led in part by entrepreneur in residence Rod Kurtz, it helps student and faculty entrepreneurs bring their ideas and research to market.

Location: Westwood

Type of Funding: Doesn’t contribute funding, provides networking and mentorship opportunities

Focus: Agnostic, focused on any tech company. Student, faculty and alumni startups preferred.

Notable Companies: UNest, KPOP Foods

USC Viterbi Startup Garage

USC’s startup accelerator’s next cohort begins in Spring 2022. It doesn’t take equity, but also doesn’t offer funding -- instead connecting founders with potential investors snad giving them hands-on guidance and access to coworking space.

Location: Marina del Rey

Type of Funding: Doesn’t contribute funding, provides networking and mentorship opportunities

Focus: Deep Technology, Machine Learning and AI. Student, faculty and alumni startups preferred.


Cedars-Sinai Accelerator

Founded in 2015, Cedars-Sinai Hospital’s three-month program gives companies up to $100,000 in funding and access to mentors both on the executive and medical sides of the business. It prioritizes startups looking to innovate in patient care, cybersecurity, genetics, machine learning and medical devices.

Location: West Hollywood

Type of Funding: Early/growth stage, seed, Series A.

Focus: Healthcare, Information management, Medical technology

Notable Companies: AppliedVR, CancerAid


Make it in LA

Created by Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2016, this program is a nonprofit that supports local businesses with mentorship and networking for funding. Applicants must be based in L.A. County, and all areas of tech are accepted.

Location: Greater Los Angeles

Type of Funding: Doesn’t contribute funding, provides networking and mentorship opportunities

Focus: Hardware, food and agriculture, healthcare/biotech, mobility, aerospace, manufacturing

Long Beach Accelerator

Founded and fully supported by the City of Long Beach, this accelerator provides seed funding and mentorship and also helps companies plan exit and acquisition strategies. Run by managing director Andrea White-Kjoss, the four-month program gives founders access to $75,000 to $100,000 in exchange for 6-7% equity. The accelerator launched as digital only, but is planning an in-person component soon, pending COVID regulations.

Location: Long Beach

Type of Funding: seed

Focus: Tech startups located in Long Beach

An earlier version of this post also listed the Techstars Aerospace Accelerator, which is no longer in operation.

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Robot Bartenders, Space Construction and a Weight Loss App: Highlights From Techstars’ LA Demo Day

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 samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Robot Bartenders, Space Construction and a Weight Loss App: Highlights From Techstars’ LA Demo Day
Andria Moore

On Wednesday, Techstars’ fall 2022 class gathered in Downtown Los Angeles to pitch their products to potential investors in hopes of securing their next big funding round. dot.LA co-sponsored the demo day presentation alongside Venice-based space news website Payload.

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Derek Jeter’s Sports Trading Card Company Brings in $10M

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.

sports trading cards
Arena Club /Andria Moore

Sports trading card platform Arena Club has raised $10 million in Series A funding.

Co-founded by CEO Brian Lee and Hall of Fame Yankees player Derek Jeter, Arena Club launched its digital showroom in September. Through the platform, sports fans can buy, sell, trade and display their card collections. Using computer vision and machine learning, Arena Club allows fans to grade and authenticate their cards, which can be stored in the company’s vault or delivered in protective “slabs.” Arena Club intends to use the new cash to expand these functions and scale its operations.

The new funding brings Arena Club’s total amount raised to $20 million. M13, defy.vc, Lightspeed Ventures, Elysian Park Ventures and BAM Ventures contributed to the round.

“Our team is thankful for the group of investors—led by M13, who see the bright future of the trading card hobby and our platform,” Lee said in a statement. “I have long admired M13 and the value they bring to early-stage startups.”

M13’s co-founder Courtney Reum, who formed the early-stage consumer technology venture firm in 2016 alongside his brother Carter Reum, will join Arena Club’s board. Reum has been eyeing the trading card space since 2020 when he began investing in what was once just a childhood hobby.

The sports trading card market surged in 2020 as fans turned to the hobby after the pandemic brought live events to a standstill. Since then, prices have come down, though demand remains high. And investors are still betting on trading card companies, with companies like Collectors bringing in $100 million earlier this year. Fanatics, which sells athletic collectibles and trading cards, reached a $31 billion valuation after raising $700 million earlier this week. On the blockchain, Tom Brady’s NFT company Autograph lets athletes sell digital collectibles directly to fans.

As for Arena Club, the company is looking to cement itself as a digital card show.

“Providing users with a digital card show allows us to use our first-class technology to give collectors from all over the world the luxury of being able to get the full trading card show experience at their fingertips,” Jeter said in a statement.

Hosts Who Rent From “Airbnb-Friendly” LA Apartments May Not Make a Profit

Amrita Khalid
Amrita Khalid is a tech journalist based in Los Angeles, and has written for Quartz, The Daily Dot, Engadget, Inc. Magazine and number of other publications. She got her start in Washington, D.C., covering Congress for CQ-Roll Call. You can send tips or pitches to amrita@dot.la or reach out to her on Twitter at @askhalid.
LA house

L.A.’s lax enforcement of Airbnbs has led to an surge of illegal short-term rentals — even four years after the city passed a regulation to crack down on such practices. But what if hosts lived in a building that welcomed Airbnb guests and short-term rentals?

That’s the idea behind Airbnb’s new push to expand short-term rental offerings. The company is partnering with a number of corporate landlords that agreed to offer “Airbnb-friendly” apartment buildings, reported The Wall Street Journal last week. According to the report, the new service will feature more than 175 buildings managed by Equity Residential, Greystar Real Estate Partners LLC and 10 other companies that have agreed to clear more than 175 properties nationwide for short-term rentals.

But prospective hosts in Los Angeles who decide to rent apartments from Airbnb’s list of more than a dozen “friendly” buildings in the city likely won’t earn enough to break even due to a combination of high rents, taxes and city restrictions on short-term rentals. Rents on one-bedroom apartments in most of the partnered buildings listed soared well over $3,000 a month. Only a few studios were available under the $2,000 price range. If a host were to rent a one bedroom apartment with a monthly rent of $2,635 (which amounts to $31,656 annually), they would have to charge well over the $194 average price per night for Los Angeles (which amounts to $23,280 per year) according to analytics platform AllTheRooms.

Either way, residents who rent one of these Airbnb friendly apartments still have to apply for a permit through the City of Los Angeles in order to host on Airbnb.

“[..Airbnb-friendly buildings] seems like a good initiative. However, from a quick look, it seems that given the rent, Airbnb revenue wouldn’t be enough to cover all expenses if the host follows the city’s policy,” says Davide Proserpio, assistant professor of marketing at the USC Marshall School of Business.

In addition, since L.A.’s 120-day cap on short-term rentals still applies to the buildings on Airbnb’s listing platform, that greatly limits the number of longer-term guests a resident can host. Not to mention, some of the buildings that Airbnb lists have even shorter limits – The Milano Lofts in DTLA for example only allows residents to host 90 nights a year.

Airbnb’s calculations of host earnings may be greatly misleading as well, given that the estimate doesn’t include host expenses, taxes, cleaning fees or individual building restrictions. For example, Airbnb estimates that a resident of a $3,699 one bedroom apartment at the Vinz in Hollywood that hosts 7 nights a month can expect $1,108 a month in revenue if they host year-round. But the Vinz only allows hosts to rent 90 days a year, which greatly limits the potential for subletters and a consistent income stream.

Keep in mind too that since the apartment will have to serve as the host’s “primary residence”, hosts will have to live there six months out of the year. All of which is to say, it’s unclear how renting an apartment in an “Airbnb-friendly” building makes hosting easier — especially in a city where illegal short-term rentals already seem to be the norm.