Who Should Apply?
We accept seed stage companies, cultivate innovation, and groom for execution. What does that mean?
You and your team came up with a brilliant idea. Innovative. You took your napkin drawing and turned it into an invention. You know this product will have fans, perhaps people will even use the term “Love” in association with your invention, and you just need to find the road to get it into people’s hands. The road ahead is full of obstacles that you wish to avoid. You may not have the money or connections. You may not know how to evaluate a manufacturing partner. However, you are passionate that this product needs to exist and you will stop at nothing to see it come to life.
We fast track the time to market in a number of ways. For early stage hardware companies who make the cut, you can expect a $75,000 deposit in your bank account on day one. By the end of the four month program, you should be ready to do a more robust fundraising round. We also intend to place follow-on investments in businesses that have graduated and thrived.
After the application period closes, we need a few weeks to evaluate your application. We are looking to see if you and your team have the passion and grit to bring this idea through to market and beyond. Are you willing to learn? Are you willing to focus on this business in our space for 4 months? Is your product is scalable, fundable, innovative, and improvable? Do people say wow when they hear your idea?
Frequently Asked Questions by Applicants
When will I know if I am accepted into the program?
We want to give you at least one month between acceptance into the program and program start. We do not do rolling admissions, so it will be close to 30 days notice. Program start and end dates can be found on the events calendar.
Does Make in LA accept international applicants?
Yes, excellent entrepreneurs are found globally. We have helped numerous foreign born entrepreneurs, and if you have the right stuff then the visas should be no problem.
I do not have a co-founder. Will that prevent me from getting into Make in LA?
Solo founders at accelerators need to be uber coachable (and perhaps have multiple personalities). It is far too easy to dismiss a view point when you are solo, and having someone you trust in the room able to bounce ideas off will help accelerate your growth. Additionally, having a technical co-founder (electrical engineer, hardware hacker, python coder, etc) on-site will allow you to move even quicker as you are testing your prototypes in market. If you are solo, try to go to places where you can find a strong co-founder, but do not settle just to apply to a program. Co-founder splits happen often and will kill your business, plus waste our time and capital. Be patient, but be proactive.
Does Make in LA provide housing and pay for travel?
We would love to! While we do not provide housing nor do we cover travel from your home to Los Angeles, some of our portfolio companies have used their initial investment to pay for housing/travel. You should speak with your accountant if you are considering doing this. Since we are selective and short term we do not yet have the clout to offer special discounts in the region. Luckily, the region around Make in LA is cheaper than Silicon Valley and Silicon Beach.
What exactly do you mean by Hardware?
We look for technologies that have some level of advancement. We are not fashion experts and we look for technology over style. For example, if you came to us with a motorcycle helmet with a plaid pattern and trucker hat brim, we would avert our gaze. However, if you tell us that the plaid pattern was because of some magical textile that can reduce weight, improve breathability, and save lives, we will dig a little deeper. Also, you should own the idea and hold the IP. If you only have a license to use this plaid magical textile in the US, or in only the helmet market, we are most likely not a fit.
Does Make in LA put a valuation on my business?
No we do not. Bringing on an accelerator works much like bringing on an employee. Though we make an investment, the equity we receive does not impact valuation.
We have done a business model canvas and have product/market fit. Are we too far along for your program?
Probably not. Many early stage startups think they have product/market fit. Very few do. Too often, we see an early stage company chase the wrong idea for too long. In the first month of the program, our experts and partners will “stress test” your product/market fit, after which there is a high likelihood that you will be a little bit closer to fit. No matter how hard we work in the first few months, we realize that true product/market fit will be determined by your customers once you have brought your product to market. Also, we have seen that course correcting early and often requires a leader who is confident yet not stubborn.
We did a crowdfunding campaign and/or are in revenue. Are we too far along for your program?
We can see many cases where we are the right choice for companies in that position and we can add value. If you need to scale or launch new products, there is certainly value in applying. We are happy to discuss your unique case via email or at a Retooling Friday.
Does Make in LA help with fundraising?
We are long term investors in your business and it is in our best interest to make sure you succeed. While we can support the fundraising effort, we take a collaborative approach in finding the entrepreneur/investor fit.
I already have a contract manufacturer on board. Does the NEO Tech relationship force me into a new CM?
NEO Tech is rarely the right fit for companies coming through Make in LA. We anticipate 2% of companies in the program becoming customers of NEO Tech within the first 18 months after acceptance into the program. NEO Tech works more often with mature businesses and is extremely selective about working with startups.