Startup South LA

11 Oct
We are developing a new organization called Startup South LA to create a startup community in Los Angeles that will focus on African-American and Latino communities. As Steve Case, the co-founder of America Online, wrote:
[A]ny locality in the United States can build a vibrant startup community if it strategically brings together the key partners who support growth.

It will be based on ideas from Brad Feld’s Startup Communities and additional ideas:

Feld’s thesis is that unlike the common wisdom, it is entrepreneurs that lead a startup community while everyone else feeds the community.

Feld describes the characteristics of those who want to be regional Entrepreneurial Leaders; they need to be committed to their region for the long-term (20-plus years), the community and its leaders must be inclusive, play a non-zero sum game, be mentorship-driven and be comfortable experimenting and failing fast.

Feeders include the government, universities, investors, mentors, service providers and large companies. He points out that some of these — government, universities and investors — think of themselves as the leaders and Feld’s thesis is that we’ve gotten it wrong for decades.

We will start by offering computer classes in website development and mobile apps development where the students will develop free websites and apps for local small businesses.

For a local merchant, an app can be a slam-dunk to drive repeat business, says Dave Rangel, chief operating officer of Corona Labs, maker of a subscription-based app development platform. “The local merchant has an advantage because they can put up a sign in their window advertising the app, which means they’ve got built-in distribution to drive loyalty.” Marketers, meanwhile, can use an app to push out alerts reminding customers of special events, promotions or new offerings.
Startup South LA will help develop high-growth entrepreneurial businesses, help small business owners, encourage supporting locally-owned businesses, and teach people how to get jobs with startups and small businesses.

First, consider underemployment, especially for certain segments of the population:

About 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed, the highest share in at least 11 years.
More than half of all of African-Americans and other non-Hispanic blacks in [New York City] who were old enough to work had no job at all this year, according to an analysis of employment data compiled by the federal Labor Department.
Educate people how to obtain jobs from small companies:
Most advice about job seeking is oriented around big companies. The notion of a standard resume, of mass mailings, of dealing with the HR department–even the idea of interviews–is all built around the Fortune 500.
Alas, the Fortune 500 has been responsible for a net loss in jobs over the last twenty years. All the growth (and your best chance to get hired) is from companies you’ve probably never heard of. And when the hirer is also the owner, the rules are very different.
1. Learn to sell.
2. Learn to write.
3. Learn to produce extraordinary video and multimedia.
Now that you’ve mastered these skills (all of which take time and guts but no money), understand the next thing about small businesses–they aren’t hiring to fill a slot…
Help develop local businesses. From Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy, we learn:
  • That most small business owners don’t get women is a given; that they don’t do so well with the guys either is pathetic.
  • Two women in a store is a shopping machine.
  • The online world can chalk up whatever success it has today mostly to the failure of offline avenues and mediums and processes and delivery systems.
  • The most popular and effective merchandising tools are lists.
  • We as a culture are over-stored. We could probably lose half of our retail space tomorrow and be a healthier nation and a healthier business community with it. We as American merchants have gotten addicted to the sale, meaning that the more we use it, the less it works and the more we need it.
  • The key aspect that makes a local store different is that the social interaction is more positive. Think about a local convenience store. People go in three times a day, in part because they’re greeted. In our modern culture there aren’t many places where people experience contact like that.
And educate people that supporting locally-owned businesses is good for their communities:
Counties and parishes with a greater concentration of small, locally-owned businesses have healthier populations — with lower rates of mortality, obesity and diabetes — than do those that rely on large companies with “absentee” owners, according to a national study by sociologists at LSU and Baylor University.
Key Studies on Big-Box Retail & Independent Business:
Terrance Jackson is the founder of Startup South LA, (an email marketing company), and (a local deal-of-the-day website). Terrance is a former New York City public high school teacher, Rockland County head track coach, and computer programmer at IBM. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a BS in Computer Science. Over 20 years ago he wrote Putting It All Together and about 8 years ago, developed a local entertainment television show called Live From VA that interviewed such guests as:

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