On February 28, 2014, 10 aspiring tech entrepreneurs, winners of General Assembly’s LA Tech Insider’s Look Tour, embarked on a one-day exploration of L.A.’s most promising tech companies, traveling from Downtown to Culver City to Santa Monica, where they visited their headquarters and held discussions with founders and technical leaders. A special thank you to NastyGal, The Honest Company, Fullscreen, TOMS and Launchpad LA for supporting our winners on their adventure.
The day began at the massively marvelous headquarters of Nasty Gal, located in the center of the financial district in Downtown L.A. Nastygal is one of the fastest-growing e-commerce destinations in the country, and has plans to expand into the offline world by opening brick-and-mortar stores by the end of 2014. Francis Aquino, who manages operations, discussed the intricacies of scaling from 8 to over 200 employees in two years, and the importance of maintaining a youthful, energetic and innovative ethos through Kulture Klub, where they organize cultural excursions throughout the city for their employees. The most striking thing about Nastygal is that the DNA of their brand is visible in every detail — both in the overall vibe of their employees, and physically, by way of their wardrobes, conference rooms named after Bette Davis and Miucca Prada, the lighting fixtures and the colorful and boldly cut garments.
Honest Company, an eco-friendly e-commerce destination founded by Jessica Alba and veteran entrepreneur Brian Lee (Shoedazzle, Legalzoom) was our next stop. Honest is tailored for the needs of modern-day families and sells nontoxic products including skin care, household cleaners and diapers. The commitment to sustainable living is highlighted in the dining area’s vertical succulent garden and there were positive-thinking mantras scattered throughout the space, with the goal being to create a working environment that constantly inspires the Honest team.
Next up was Fullscreen, a media company powering the creation and sharing of video with the connected generation, working with individuals and brands who need help with creating content, distributing that content, connecting with their fans and building a community. Fullscreen marries the core competencies of L.A.’s entertainment industry — content creation, distribution and the cultivation of talent with technology. A very exciting company with a bright future.
Our tour ended with a visit to the headquarters of TOMS, a company that is driven by a single mission: to use business to help improve lives.
The takeaway? LA is on the cusp of creating innovative consumer-facing companies, both in e-commerce, media and entertainment. We have a blossoming tech industry, but the term no longer signifies what it used to. Tech today means anything which relates to computers, the Internet, digital media, social media, entertainment, shopping, mobile devices, crowd-funding and user experience design. Tech is no longer an independent industry, but has turned into the substrate of most things changing in popular culture in LA. It has taken awhile for the right amount of technical talent to emerge in the city to bring consumer instincts to web/mobile, but we predict that 2014 will be the year that it tips.