13 Small Business and Startup Founders from Low Income Neighborhoods and Underrepresented Populations Participate in Inaugural Founders Business Accelerator Program Created with the City of Los Angeles
Los Angeles, May 30, 2019. The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) announces the first cohort of 13 small business founders selected to participate in the Founders Business Accelerator (FBA), a small business and startup acceleration program to help underrepresented small business and startup founders in low income neighborhoods in Los Angeles grow their business and increase their community, social and environmental impact.
“Small businesses are the beating heart of our economy—job creators that share Los Angeles’ innovative spirit with the world,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Working together with LACI, we’re ensuring small business owners have the tools they need to reach new markets, grow their bottom-line and thrive.”
The FBA program will help business founders grow their businesses by pairing them with mentors to refine their goals, finances and strategies, as well as provide up to $5,000 in legal, human resources and marketing consulting services. Additionally, founders will learn how to create and increase their business’ community, environmental and social impact.
“Many of the diverse business owners we encounter are poised to grow exponentially, given the right know-how, mentoring, facilities and network,” said Sonya Blake, Director of Community Business in the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development. “The vibrant ecosystem the City has built at LACI is exactly what these small businesses need to succeed.”
“Los Angeles is creating opportunities to give small businesses the tools they need to thrive and revitalize communities,” said Councilmember Paul Krekorian. “By investing in our small business owners through the Founders Business Accelerator program, we’re helping promote job growth, enhancing our local economy and ensuring that our entrepreneurs succeed.”
“I believe in the power of entrepreneurship and I believe that small businesses are central to the health and well-being of our communities,” said Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson. “I am proud to support the Founders Business Accelerator, which helps founders increase their social, economic and environmental impact. I know that with a little expert training and guidance, the incredible entrepreneurs from South L.A. and across this region can make their businesses really soar.”
“From leading the development of the City’s business portal to creating the Small Business Academy—supporting small, women and minority owned businesses has been a strong focus of my work throughout my career,” said Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez. “I am proud to support the Founders Business Accelerator—this program is an innovative way to create good jobs and put more resources back into our communities.”
The first workshop of the FBA program was held on May 11, 2019 and the program runs through July 2019. LACI vetted almost 200 applications for the first cohort, illustrating the opportunity and interest amongst small business founders in L.A. Applicants were accepted to the program based on ability to scale, commitment to social and environmental impact and their company’s business model. All the founders live and have their businesses located in the City of Los Angeles.
“Many people know LACI for our work with cleantech startups—now thanks to the City of Los Angeles, we are honored to offer business accelerator services to small businesses and early stage startup founders in neighborhoods across the city,” said Matt Petersen, CEO of LACI. “We are excited to work with this first cohort of founders to help them increase their impact, create a sustainable business model and access capital.”
The first cohort of businesses includes:
- Lance Kling, Fenestar
- energy efficient windows and doors
- Carey Jordan, Jordan’s Hot Dogs
- historic hot dog restaurant
- Rudy Rios, SEED
- residential sustainable agriculture
- Tom Nguyen, CultureGap LLC
- an art and culture marketing firm
- Mary Sutton, Collective REMAKE – Recycle for JOBs
- a social enterprise
- Kelli Jackson, Hank’s Mini Market
- grocery store and community hub
- Vanessa Ballesteros and Elisa Gomez, Sunbox Inc.
- a healthy food tech company
- Brenda Yancor, Sustainable Adventures (Rhonda’s Resilient Adventures)
- meal delivery service for outdoors
- Orlando Leon, Volumen Technologies
- social enterprise
- Adé E. Neff, Ride On! Bike Shop / Co-Op
- bicycle sales and rental
- Vanessa Punche, L.A. Grind Coffee & Tea Bar
- coffee food truck
- Malvena Walker-Addison, Nena’s Organics
- organic beauty products
- NanaEfua Afoh-Manin, Shared Harvest
- fintech company
The Founders Business Accelerator is a free program designed to help small businesses grow, prompted by the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development. It is funded by the Community Development Block Grant funding via the Economic and Workforce Development Department. Additional support was provided by Councilmembers Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Monica Rodriguez to recruit applicants and support the program.
The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), a City of Los Angeles-established nonprofit organization, is creating an inclusive green economy by: unlocking innovation through working with startups to accelerate the commercialization of clean technologies, transforming markets through partnerships with policymakers, innovators and market leaders in transportation, energy and sustainable cities; and enhancing communities through workforce development, pilots and other programs. Founded as an economic development initiative by the City of Los Angeles and its Department of Water & Power (LADWP), LACI is recognized as one of the most innovative business incubators in the world by UBI. In the past seven years, LACI has helped 78 portfolio companies raise $221M in funding, $220M in revenue, create 1,750 jobs, and deliver more than $393M in long term economic value. Learn more at laci.org