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From her home office in downtown, Miki Reynolds is trying to build an accelerator that looks like Los Angeles.
Reynolds, a tech and digital marketing veteran, founded the nonprofit Grid110 six years ago as an incubator for fashion tech brands. But she soon expanded to help a range of founders find their footing in L.A.'s tech and startup scene. Unlike most accelerators, it doesn't take equity in each company.
"There is no marching towards a demo day performance or presentation," Reynolds said of the 12-week virtual accelerator. "It's really allowing the founders themselves to describe what they're looking to accomplish. Then we try to see how we can help them get there."
Of the 200 companies she's put through the program, 70% are led by women and 70% by a founder of color. Following her mission also means expanding the industry's scope beyond Santa Monica and Venice, the once-default hubs for new companies and investors.
Grid110 runs three to four programs each year. The 15 startups chosen for this round represent a range of industries. Among them is the San Pedro-based biotech company Spira, which uses gene editing on algae to make food dyes and Folkicks, an online marketplace of shoes and clothing for Mexican folk dancers.
Founders in the accelerator hail from across the city from Highland Park to Culver City.
And, Reynolds said, her accelerator is one that "better reflects the city of Los Angeles and the world that we know it as."
"We recognized that most of the community and the events and co-working spaces — even the venture community — were largely centered on the Westside," she said.
Here is a look at Grid110's 21st cohort:
Barterr wants to make sneaker trading safer, easier and fairer.
The company acts as a middleman between two users hoping to trade shoes. After agreeing on a trade, users send the shoes to Barterr, which then uses a third-party to authenticate each shoe before sending the shoes to their new owners.
Founder Terrence Whaley told dot.LA that many shoe collectors want to trade their shoes through local Facebook groups or other sneaker forums, but are dissuaded either because they don't know how or receive poor offers.
Barterr hopes to set itself apart from a crowded sneaker marketplace industry with its algorithm to help users identify fair trades, he said.
"People don't know what equal value is," he said. "We want to basically be the single source of truth for what an equal and fair value trade is."
The company currently offers a desktop app, and plans to release IOS and Android apps within the year.
Founded by Claudia Barrera and Laura Barrera, two sisters born in Los Angeles and raised in Mexico, BurritoBreak sells small, grab-and-go $2 burritos targeted to both essential workers and office workers in Downtown LA.
The company, which has one brick-and-mortar location and two sidewalk vending locations, was inspired by the food stands the two saw in Mexico that sold food that was both affordable and fresh.
"That's something that was missing here," Claudia Barrera told dot.LA. "And I feel like it's missing all around the country."
Founded by Shahira Marei, Dirty Cookie makes edible shot glasses made out of cookies. The glasses, lined with an interior layer of chocolate, are meant to hold any liquid, from milk to alcohol.
Folkicks wants to help Mexican-Americans who perform Folklorico, traditional Mexican folk dances, reconnect with their Mexican roots. Founded by Rafael Valero, the company sells made-in-Mexican footwear and dancewear to Folklorio dancers in the U.S.
South Gate-based FYBRAA aims to prevent clothes from reaching the landfill. Founded by Erica Dwerlkotte, the company picks up unwanted clothes for a $5 fee and either resells the clothes on Poshmark or repurposes the clothes as fabric.
Founded by Noah Wossen and Trevor Brown, Gthr is a social media network aimed at cyclists. The company's IOS app lets cyclists find riding partners with similar riding habits, message other riders in the area, post photos and log rides.
Jazz Hands For Autism
Founded by Ifunanya Nweke, Jazz Hands For Autism is a Culver City-based nonprofit that helps musicians on the autism spectrum get their foot in the music industry through job placement programs, music learning programs and concerts.
Kif & Co
Founded by Linda Hsu and Caroline Brain, Kif & co sells probiotic fermented soft drinks.
Mina Health bills itself as a one-stop shop for menopause. The company sells at-home menopause test kits, which it says is less expensive and easier to use than lab-run tests. Mina Health is also aiming to provide menopause treatment services.
After successfully paying off six-figures of student loan debt in two years, founder Aja Dang understands the importance of planners and journals. Her company, MSTRPLN, sells digital and physical planners aimed to help professionals plan their personal, professional and financial lives.
Of The Night
Two friends started Of The Night in the throes of the pandemic to help party animals quarantined at home let loose.
Now, the Los Angeles-based company is hoping to take their party packages nationwide. Founded by Blake Harrison and Courtney Nichols, Of The Night sells "party packages" that include drinks, costumes and activities meant to provide a one-night experience for customers.
Each package is centered around a distinct theme – previous themes have included a garden gnome-themed package and a Prince-inspired Valentine's Day package. The packages are also popular among LGBTQ community, Harrison said, in part because of how eccentric each package is designed to be.
"Frankly, that's who we know and who we are, we've always been involved with the queer space so it was a no-brainer," Harrison told dot.LA.
The company, which first blossomed in Los Angeles, is hoping to grow its market in other major metropolitan cities and begin to tailor their packages to post-pandemic life. Now, Nichols said, the company is also aiming to target people who feel overworked.
"So, everyone," Harrison added.
Founded by Ashley Xie, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, Rooted Fare wants to help immigrant chefs bring traditional cultural sauces to the market. Rooted Fare partners with immigrant chefs to help them market and commercialize their sauces, and sells the sauces on their site.
Founded by Halleemah Nash, Rosecrans Ventures offers career counseling and job placement opportunities for underrepresented early-career workers.
Named after Rosecrans Avenue, a street that runs through Nash's hometown of Compton, the company also works with organizations to help workforces improve their diversity including PUMA, the California Department of Correction and the American Chemical Society.
An increased focus on diversity, Nash told dot.LA, will help empower a Generation Z workforce that is more diverse than previous generations.
"The idea of coaching and placing and empowering meaningful workforces for the underrepresented I think is necessary if we really want to get real about what the future workforce is going to look like," she said. "It's them."
Based out of San Pedro, Spira uses CRISPR gene editing technology on algae to make dyes for cooking and clothing. Company founders Elliot Roth, Surjan Singh and Pierre Wensel say their process is less resource intensive than other methods to create dyes.
The Petal Effect
The Petal Effect is a Los Angeles-based boutique flower company that sells customizable flower arrangements. Founded by Tobore Oweh, the company offers deliveries, home and office subscription services and other floral installations.
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This week's startup pitch showcase focused on female founders in honor of Women's History Month. The founders of OYA FEMTECH Apparel, ofthenight.club and Struct Club each gave five-minute pitches about their company, followed by advice from M13 Investor Jawhara Tariq and LDR Ventures Partners Co-Managing Director Maxine Kozler. The event was hosted by dot.LA's Chief Correspondent & Host and Head of Video Kelly O'Grady.
Startup Pitch Showcase: Female Founders feat. Oya Femtech Apparel, ofthenight.club and Struct Club
OYA FEMTECH Apparel According to women's health experts, the average legging makes women twice as likely to develop vaginal health issues. OYA is tackling this feminine health challenge head on by engineering leggings for women's health, style, functionality and comfort. Think: breathable, silky, leak absorbent, and curve shaping. OYA is on a mission to create technical clothes that support feminine health. OYA hopes to give all women more control over their health and create safe spaces to discuss feminine care.
ofthenight.club In the over-saturated market of subscription services, "Of The Night'' elevates the model of a "party-in-a-box." Founded by two female experiential producers, Of The Night embodies the magic of themed events and individually packages this magic for evenings spent inside. Since our debut, Of The Night has delivered 300+ party packages with 12 unique package themes; provided paid opportunities for out-of-work entertainers; spotlighted local brands and small businesses — many of whom lost their physical spaces during the pandemic — and raised over $5000 for nonprofits. Instead of mourning the loss of what we could no longer do, Of The Night's nationwide deliveries celebrate new and innovative ways of gathering.
Struct Club is a vibrant community of fitness instructors who craft impeccable workout plans to fierce playlists that drive peak workout efficiency, effectiveness and inspiration. Thousands of instructors worldwide come to Struct Club as their go-to platform to create and monetize playlist-driven workout plans. Spinning, running, HIIT and Sculpt enthusiasts looking to slay their fitness goals can find on-the-beat workouts to their favorite tunes in our app. Download Struct Club on the App Store today to access select workouts by our top featured instructors with matching music, integrating directly with your Spotify or Apple Music account.
About the Advisors:
Maxine Kozler, co-managing director of LDR Ventures
Maxine Kozler, Co Managing Director of LDR Ventures
Maxi is the Co-Managing Director of LDR Ventures, a Los Angeles based female led venture capital firm. Maxi's expertise includes: early stage capital raising, deal structuring and syndication, entertainment, intellectual property, licensing, branding, marketing and PR/social media. She invests in and advises founders at the angel and seed stages to grow their businesses from proof of concept stage to full use of their capitalization. Investments and Advisory roles include: Thrive Market, sweetgreen, Territory Foods, junzi kitchens, Shaka Tea, Sourse, Moku and Parachute Home.
Maxi also gives her time to the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship Advisory Council at Cal Poly University, as an Executive and VC in residence at the Hot House Incubator at Cal Poly, as a Pod Leader for Declare (fka Parity Partners) and as a mentor for SheWorx and the Black Girls Making Millions Academy founded by Mahisha Dillenger.
In addition to investing, Maxi spearheads events in LA, SF and NYC with other female investors to teach women how to invest at the Angel and Seed levels in order to address the funding disparity of capital that goes to Female Founders.
Jawhara Tariq, investor at M13
Jawhara Tariq, Investor at M13
My path to venture was non-traditional. I began my career working in nonprofits and philanthropy, where I spent my days trying to understand the systems that affect the average American's access to the most basic necessities. I take these experiences with me as an investor at M13 and am looking for founders who are trying to change the world in ways that are equitable, accessible, and have effects on large populations.
Investors have a large responsibility. We are given the opportunity to support great ideas that have the potential to turn into paradigm shifts. I am looking for founders who are unstoppable forces; the entrepreneurs who have the audacity to dream up a world that looks, feels, and operates differently than the one we live in today.
M13 is about stars that shine brighter together. This is the perfect metaphor for the special community of investors, founders, and operators that have come together to build innovative solutions to some of the world's largest problems.
Kelly O'Grady, chief correspondent & host and head of video at dot.LA
Kelly O'Grady, Chief Correspondent & Host and Head of Video 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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