California’s economy may be struggling overall, but the beach communities of Los Angeles are enjoying a major boom, thanks in part to the proliferation of new startup companies in the corridor from El Segundo north to Santa Monica, nicknamed “Silicon Beach.” This week, local startups came together for the third annual Silicon Beach Fest to share business tips, make connections, and celebrate the start of summer with evening events.
This year, the festival was not only showcasing the success of local startups–including, for example, Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of local virtual reality firm Oculus–but also the creation of new shared business spaces. Two new facilities, named Cross Campus and the vaguely Occupy-ish General Assembly, have opened along the Colorado Avenue corridor, near the path of Santa Monica’s forthcoming light rail connection to downtown L.A.
Some of the startups housed at Cross Campus
Participants packed meeting rooms for lectures such as “Building a Business Around Moms” and “The Digital Health Boom: Empowering Users Through Innovation.”
At one panel, local entrepreneurs explained why they had decided to locate their firms in L.A. rather than the Bay Area. On top of the beach lifestyle, panelists said, there is enough local venture capital to sustain new investments. Plus, Silicon Valley–still the most important address for serious fundraising–is only a short flight away.
“Pick where you want to live, and then build around it,” said Scott Kriz, Founder and CEO of Bitium, a company that helps manage the integration of new employees into other firms’ technological systems.
Nanxi Liu, CEO of social media company Enplug, spoke about the excitement of starting fresh in a city where startups are still a new phenomenon.