Los Angeles is known for many things: Hollywood, stunning coastline and beautiful people. But, it’s also a great place to start a small business, whether you're selling online or in-person. With its creative nature and ethos of health and wellness, LA is a great place for new businesses to try their hand and find their first customers.
To get insider knowledge, we talked to four LA entrepreneurs to get the inside scoop.
Rachel Geicke — Snow Monkey
We all know how important it is to fuel our bodies with the right nutrients it needs to operate — this is doubly true for athletes. In college, Rachel Geicke was on the D1 rowing team at Boston University. And then, she was diagnosed with Celiac disease. With the determination of an athlete and the sweet-starved soul of a health-conscious, perpetually hungry 20-something, Rachel began “churning my own vegan ‘ice cream’ using fruits, hemp protein powder and other seeds I found in my college apartment. My friends and teammates got hooked as well, and my weekly batches were disappearing faster than I could make them,” says Geicke. Thus, Snow Monkey was born.
Though Snow Monkey was born in a college dorm far, far away, the LA culture was just right for the fledgling company. “The Los Angeles startup culture, and LA’s culture as a whole, aligns with Snow Monkey’s belief that our bodies are machines that require the right fuel. LA is also leading the charge when it comes to mental health and mindfulness practices, creating a wholesome and holistic philosophy surrounding fitness and health,” says Geicke.
As a first-time entrepreneur, Geicke had some advice for anyone looking to start their own company: “It’s important to be extremely clear with your company’s vision, mission and values. Remembering why you started your company is the North Star during challenges and tough decisions, and surrounding yourself with a team that embodies that vision will allow you to create a genuine, authentic business based on a shared passion. Dream big, hustle harder than you ever have before and enjoy the journey.”
Dr. Pooneh Ramezani, D.D.S. — Dr. Brite
Los Angeles is home to many health-conscious customers and entrepreneurs. That’s where doctors and sisters, Paris and Pooneh come in. Dr. Pooneh Ramezani, D.D.S., and her sister, Dr. Paris Sabo, M.D., co-founded Dr. Brite. When the sisters founded Dr. Brite, they created a company that provides affordable, non-toxic, cruelty-free and safe-for-the-environment care products.
Starting a company is never easy, and doing it as busy doctors adds another layer of challenge. When it comes to the startup culture in LA, Dr. Ramezani shares, “It's pretty intense. You need to know people to get any type of help. There are many resources locally available to women-owned businesses that we have taken advantage of. These institutions help by finding mentors, grant investment opportunities and support by purchasing our products.”
While the work is intense, Dr. Ramezani says it’s also rewarding to do what you love every single day. And, before you start a business, to know why you’re doing it, so you can push through those intense days. “Think of the WHY first. What is the bigger picture? Why are you doing what you do?” says Dr. Ramezani.
Ben Eachus — Flowspace
While LA is home to many entrepreneurs innovating in the health and wellness space, it’s also home to many up-and-coming tech businesses. Ben Eachus is the co-founder and CEO of Flowspace, a company that helps others to quickly scale their fulfillment using modern software, which helps them get their products to customers more efficiently and affordably.
While previously working at The Honest Company, Eachus noticed a hole in the market. So, he started Flowspace to fill that gap. LA was an obvious choice. "Southern California is the biggest logistics hub in the U.S., so it was a great place to start our company, as we could meet our first partners and customers in person."
Eachus also shares that being an entrepreneur in LA has the benefit of giving you access to other entrepreneurs. "My biggest resource has been my former coworkers and managers at The Honest Company. Early employees there have left and started their own companies or joined other startups and all have been invaluable mentors and advisors as we navigate our own journeys."
For those wanting to start a company, but wondering when to do it, Eachus shares, “There is never a perfect time to start a company and if you think about it too long, you will come up with all the reasons it won’t work. The best way to know is to try it.”
You won’t know if you can do it until you just start. And, you just might find that you’ve found your new calling.
“The most rewarding part of Flowspace for me is empowering other businesses to succeed,” says Eachus. “We help our customers scale their businesses, and we provide new revenue opportunities to our warehouse partners.” Being an entrepreneur can be rewarding, especially when you get to see how your product or service helps your customers to achieve their goals.
Jordan Smyth — Gleamin
When it comes to entrepreneurship, Jordan Smyth, founder of Gleamin, knows a thing or two. As the founder of several self-funded businesses, he’s got great advice for anyone looking to start their own venture, whether it’s their first, second or third business.
When it comes to being an entrepreneur, Smyth loves the opportunity to build on an idea that he’s passionate about. “It is incredibly fulfilling to see an idea prosper into something great, and to have a group of people who share the love for your idea is something incredibly exciting and reassuring. I would say the biggest challenge has to be getting the right team together, optimized for growth. It's a process like none other and something you can only learn from experience.”
As a non-native LA resident, Smyth has an interesting perspective on the local entrepreneurship culture. "There are plenty of great ideas that come from LA; however, the execution is the most important part. Many people get distracted by something else that they completely forget about their initial idea. It's important to stay true to your core values and to focus on what you want. In terms of resources, there are plenty of virtual and in-person entrepreneurship events to attend to," says Smyth.
If you are going into business for yourself for the first time, Smyth has some sage advice: choose a cash-flow business. Choose “something that doesn’t have a high startup cost, and can scale without many restrictions. A good example is drop-shipping. This will teach you a lot plus allow you to build a decent amount of capital, ready for your next venture.”
Once you’ve got some business experience under your belt and some cash that needs to be spent, you can join the ranks of serial entrepreneurs.
No matter where you are, starting a business is hard work. When you start a business where you live, you want to make sure you’re starting something that will resonate with the local culture. For LA entrepreneurs, this means harnessing their creative energy, tapping into the health and wellness space or looking for holes in the tech marketplace.