Through the Table Talk Dinner Series, Comcast NBCUniversal’s Entrepreneurial Engagement team takes us across the United States to meet tech entrepreneurs who build innovative products and influence startup culture in their cities. Authentic conversations between founders and product and innovation leaders at Comcast NBCUniversal helped create this series of stories about cities, like Los Angeles, where tech and entrepreneurship is thriving.
As the entertainment capital of the world, Los Angeles’ startup scene is buoyantly leveraging technology’s increasing role in film, television, music, and gaming. The tech culture of “Silicon Beach” is robust and growing, but continues to look for the same publicity and investment as its Bay Area counterpart.
For many of the 30 entrepreneurs and tech leaders who recently gathered with Comcast NBCUniversal’s Entrepreneurial Engagement team in West Hollywood, Los Angeles’ intrinsic relationship with the entertainment industry is precisely what makes the city such an attractive home base.
“There’s a fair amount of talent that doesn’t want to go up [to San Francisco]. We have our own economics of film and TV. I think you can get a bunch of very technical people in those fields,” said Michael Hobe, founder of Amper Music, an AI music composer that lets users create their own film soundtracks from scratch.
Joseph Aigboboh, CEO of mobile game developer PlayQ, chose Los Angeles specifically because of the city’s entertainment infrastructure.
“The types of companies here are usually in media and tech,” Aigboboh said. “It’s rare you see a straight tech play in LA. We’re working on mobile gaming and we chose LA over San Francisco because we wanted that interaction of entertainment and tech.”
With the bulk of the country’s entertainment content being dreamed up and created right in their backyard, Los Angeles founders have an abundance of recognizable partners to collaborate with.
“You win with your partnerships,” Steve Lukas, CEO of immersive AR/VR content startup Across Realities, said. “If someone else has more money and more experience and talent, how do you still win? You want to be able to partner with a brand that makes your technology special.”
It’s not just funding that makes these partnerships attractive. Hobe and Amper Music, which raised $4 million in March 2017, said they would absolutely consider joining a corporate accelerator.
“For me, when I was looking at VCs, money is nice but what can you offer outside of that?” Hobe said. “And I think brand awareness and presence play into that. That’s a huge thing that’s not just financial.”
Still, local tech leaders recognize that there has historically been a dearth of successful exits by Los Angeles startups to put the community on the map.
“We’re still missing later-stage funding,” said Chris Rico, Director of Innovation for Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation. “There’s not a legacy of unicorns that have been sold with founders investing back into the community.”
But the infusion of capital through corporate-startup partnerships may soon change the tech dynamic in Los Angeles, especially in the entertainment industry.
“We think of our shows not being shows anymore, but as IP,” said John Canning, Vice President of Interactive Experiences at NBCUniversal. “Something that is also a game or an interactive property. When I look at partnerships I’m thinking about what can we build interesting stuff with.”
As tech and entertainment continue to intuitively intertwine, Los Angeles’ startup scene will no doubt make real breakthroughs that will change how we enjoy and engage with content.
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