Take three successful individuals, their love of Los Angeles, and a bit of tech magic and you get something amazing. At least that’s what happened when LA-based friends Sean Bonner (the global director of Safecast), Alex Benzer (the Co-founder and CEO of SocialEngine), and Tara Tiger Brown (contributing writer to Forbes.com and Technology Director at UC Irvine Digital Media Learning Hub & Founder of LA Makerspace) and decided to create Represent LA.
Represent LA, also known as RLA, is an online map of the tech start-up community throughout Los Angeles and outlying regions. The program utilizes a custom google map and is standing on the shoulders of Represent Map, an open-sourced project, upon which the group previously worked. The result is a tool that helps one visualize the city’s extensive activity including startups, accelerators, incubators, coworking, investors, consulting and even events.
“[Represent LA] was initially Tara’s idea,” says Bonner. “She was talking in a number of forums (her column on Forbes at a conference here in LA) about how much startup activity was happening in LA.”
Although there is a ton of startup activity in Los Angeles, few people know the extent. Represent LA helps to alleviate that problem. It does a fantastic job of providing the public with something more tangible than anecdotes and more appealing than a laundry list of company names to showcase new business in the greater LA area.
RLA isn’t without a few challenges. Brown notes it “has been to figure out what everyone wants.” Bonner agrees: “Anytime you make something for a community you are faced with the challenge of figuring out what that community wants, and this was no different.”
But despite trying to tackle those kinds of questions troubling every startup, the founders of RLA seem to be having a great time proving the public all this aggregated information. Brown says “I’m very excited that we are helping to build a worldwide tech community with the map…Perhaps the conversation will shift to being a global community and sharing resources rather than comparing only by how much VC money each city gets as the only gauge of success.” In the process of creating such a unique and valuable tool, all involved feel that the benefits are staggering as it “helps people and companies be more social” says Bonner.
In this sense, Represent LA has the information companies and startups need to pursue their dreams of success through means of communication and collaboration.
“As an entrepreneur with a small startup, it’s easy to feel isolated – especially in a city as large as Los Angeles” says Benzer, “It’s a shame too since founders can really help each other.”
Interested in LA’s startup scene? Check out some of these stellar panels at SMWLA that will showcase some of the city’s hottest accelerators, incubators, and companies: