Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Wednesday toured the grounds of Venice startup Amplify, a company that provides entrepreneurs with initial capital, office space and mentoring to take an idea from concept to realization.
In recent years, Venice and the Westside have emerged as hotbeds for the tech industry, and the proliferation of such companies have dubbed the area Silicon Beach. Amplify launched in December 2011, and has thus far coached 14 teams – comprised of approximately two or three members – many of whom have secured additional venture capital to grow their companies.
“It’s good to see this vigor here,” Villaraigosa said. “Through this platform, you can generate exponential growth in an industry that really should be here.”
He said that although for years Los Angeles has been the entertainment and creative capital of the world, the city has not attracted many tech entrepreneurs. Villaraigosa touted the fact that his office established the Mayor’s Council on Innovation and Industry, a committee made up of 25 L.A. entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and business leaders.
The mayor said that in this recession, L.A. must aggressively pursue attracting new talent rather than passively wait for business to come to it. And his visit was to emphasize companies like Amplify, that are doing just that – recruiting and nurturing young talent in Los Angeles, particularly the Westside.
About 1,500 teams have applied to receive seed money from Amplify in the last year, and out of the 14 picked, seven have raised a substantial amount of money from other sources – anywhere from $500,000 to $1.5 million, according to Jeff Solomon, co-founder and executive director of Amplify.
One of Amplify’s success stories is look.io, which developed an app that allows live, remote support for iPhone users when they are having difficulty navigating through a mobile website or app – a hotel reservation app for example. The company was acquired and now operates out of an office in Santa Monica.
To repeat similar stories, the mayor asked the Los Angeles city council on Tuesday to extend the three-year Business Tax Holiday to 2015, as it is set to expire by the end of 2012. The measure exempts new businesses in L.A. from paying the city’s business tax for the first three years that the business is in operation.