Watch: 'Female Founders Stories' Featuring Slingshot Aerospace & Toucan

Annie Burford

Annie Burford is dot.LA's director of events. She's an event marketing pro with over ten years of experience producing innovative corporate events, activations and summits for tech startups to Fortune 500 companies. Annie has produced over 200 programs in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City working most recently for a China-based investment bank heading the CEC Capital Tech & Media Summit, formally the Siemer Summit.

Watch: 'Female Founders Stories' Featuring Slingshot Aerospace & Toucan

In our final edition of "Female Founders Stories: to Live and Work in L.A," dot.LA Chief Host and Correspondent Kelly O'Grady talked with Slingshot Aerospace co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer Melanie Stricklan and Toucan co-founder and CEO Taylor Nieman about the journey that brought them to where they are now.

Stricklan, an U.S. Air Force veteran, said she honed her leadership skills during her two decades in the military, where she met one of her co-founders — and the seed to the company began.

"There's not too many times in life that you get to do what you love and cultivate your leadership prowess," she said.

Her company uses AI and algorithms to analyze data collected by satellites and aerial drones in real time.

Nieman said she learned from her past roles at in business development and strategic partnership at tech startup companies There, she said, she soaked up as much as she could and learned a lot about fundraising. She tried several companies before landing on Toucan, her first venture-backed company.

"Tapping the best people to come on board first was the key to unlock," she said. "That's how we attracted investment, our first check."

Watch the full discussion below, and sign up for our newsletter to get notified about the latest dot.LA events.

Female Founders Stories: featuring Slingshot Aerospace & Toucanwww.youtube.com


Melanie Stricklan, Co-Founder & Chief Strategy Officer

Melanie Stricklan, Co-Founder & Chief Strategy Officer 

In 2016, Melanie Stricklan combined her military experience and indomitable spirit to co-found Slingshot Aerospace, a situational intelligence company that applies advanced analytics and computer vision to earth and space data, empowering customers with clarity in complex environments. Today, she is the company's Chief Strategy Officer where she leads the strategic vision and growth strategy. Having proudly served in the United States Air Force for 21 years, Melanie possesses a unique blend of leadership and technical expertise that enables her to create and execute winning business and product strategies.

She was named the 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year for El Segundo, California, and named one of Inc. Magazine's 2019 Top 100 Female Founders in the United States. Melanie was named a Techstars All Star mentor, a recognition from her peers within the prestigious aerospace accelerator for her gold standard of mentorship. A trailblazer in the industry, Melanie frequently speaks at conferences about the value of situational intelligence and advancing space awareness, and hosted a TED Talk discussing how images from space help us protect earth. She is a champion for STEM initiatives, and enjoys inspiring youth to challenge themselves and pursue their dreams.

Taylor Nieman, Co-Founder and CEO of Toucan

​Taylor Nieman, Co-Founder and CEO of Toucan 

Taylor Nieman is the Co-Founder and CEO of Toucan (jointoucan.com), a platform that helps people learn new things as they go about their day browsing the web. Right now, Toucan will teach new languages, such as Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and German. Within a year, Toucan raised close to $3 million from Investors including Wonder Ventures, GSV, and Golden Ventures. Prior to building Toucan, Taylor joined many notable startups and helped scale them from Seed to Series B, including Headspace and Fair. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Taylor is a graduate of Cornell University.

Kelly O'Grady, Chief Host & Correspondent at dot.LA

Kelly O'Grady, Chief Host & Correspondent at dot.LA 

Kelly O'Grady is dot.LA's chief host & correspondent. Kelly serves as dot.LA's on-air talent, and is responsible for designing and executing all video efforts. A former management consultant for McKinsey, and TV reporter for NESN, she also served on Disney's Corporate Strategy team, focusing on M&A and the company's direct-to-consumer streaming efforts. Kelly holds a bachelor's degree from Harvard College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. A Boston native, Kelly spent a year as Miss Massachusetts USA, and can be found supporting her beloved Patriots every Sunday come football season.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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INDIEV Teams Up With Foxconn To Launch Electric SUVs

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.

INDIEV Teams Up With Foxconn To Launch Electric SUVs
Photo Courtesy of IndiEV

INDIEV, a startup based in Vernon, announced this week it will partner with Taiwanese tech conglomerate Foxconn to build its first prototypes of its upcoming electric SUV, nicknamed the INDI One.

The debut makes it the seventh consumer electric vehicle company to enter Los Angeles’s crowded cohort of green carmakers.

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