Los Angeles is a diverse area that encompasses diverse interests. So it’s no surprise that LA startups don’t fall into a single market. But they do share a devotion to developing superior online user experiences and a tendency to leverage and exploit existing markets.
Take the example of DogVacay, a startup that connects pet owners with pet sitters, and Tinder, the dating app that connects humans with other hookup-seeking humans. Neither platform can be called revolutionary in itself in the way that, say, Uber has arguably taken down a large segment of the transportation industry. But both have subtly but pervasively adjusted the way we connect with our needs and desires. Swipe right, Tinder’s signature gesture, has become part of our language.
The Hollywood sign is an emblem of LA, but from 1923 to 1949 it read ‘Hollywood Land’. Originally it was not an icon at all, merely a real estate marketing campaign for a housing development
Los Angeles is a large patch of urban sprawl, with a tangle of freeways wrapping around its massive cultural diversity. The startups that have thrived reflect that diversity in the markets they serve. Accordingly, you’ll find Club W disrupting the traditional notion of the wine club with an online approach. RealtyMogul and RadPad challenge the real estate investment and rental markets. TigerText’s secure SMS texting platform is changing the way doctors, nurses and other medical personnel communicate via smartphone.
Los Angeles startups often operate in stealth mode, so don’t expect flashy offices. Exceptions include Factual, a big data company in Century City, and ZipRecruiter, the employment startup, with its stylish Santa Monica offices. IdeaLab, one of the first startup incubators, is a Pasadena landmark.
But even though Pasadena may be home to the storied IdeaLab, the Los Angeles startup scene has gained special traction in the area called the Westside, which includes Santa Monica and Venice, with some action in nearby West Hollywood. This is wonderful news for the visitor, as it’s easy to get around this relatively small area via bicycle, rental car or Uber.