If you want to hear a good story, don’t ask your friend who’s a budding screenwriter. Instead, talk to a founder or someone who works at a tech company. Los Angeles is full of fast-growing tech companies with founding stories that could put the writer’s room of HBO’s “Silicon Valley” to shame. We know because we’ve gathered six of them, which you’ll find below.
Wevr recognized the potential of technology to change the way stories are told all the way back in 2009. For reference, that was a full year before the first Oculus Rift prototype was developed and five years before Google Cardboard made streaming VR video accessible to the masses. While a lot has changed in 10 years, Wevr co-founder and CEO Neville Spiteri said the company’s mission has stayed the same.
Tell us briefly about your founding story. What’s one thing people might not know about how Wevr was founded?
Many may not know that Wevr was founded before the Oculus Kickstarter project in 2012 and before the current wave of VR technologies and companies hit. One of our flagship products, TheBlu, an immersive ocean experience, originally started out as an online PC app. Since inception, we continue to be a next-generation entertainment studio creating interactive immersive software products.
Many may not know that Wevr was founded before the Oculus Kickstarter project in 2012 and before the current wave of VR technologies and companies hit.”
How has Wevr evolved since those early days — and where do you see the company going next?
Wevr has now developed interactive experiences on PC, mobile, VR home, VR location-based entertainment, AR and dome projection systems. Our mission remains the same: to create transcendent, globally shared immersive experiences that are inspiring and remarkable and deliver them at scale to fans around the world.
Advertise Purple wasn’t founded with the objective to become the leading affiliate marketing management agency. In fact, President Kyle Mitnick said the company didn’t get into the affiliate management space until customer demand forced it to. The move paid off, as Advertise Purple has since become the leading affiliate management agency, a title it plans to retain as it introduces AI.
Tell us briefly about your founding story. What’s one thing people might not know about how Advertise Purple was founded?
Something people may not know about our founding story is the fact that, initially, we were consciously avoiding going into affiliate management. All our time was spent running offers as affiliates, and we were consistently turning down new business due to time constraints. Finally, with more and more demand, we hired a small team to only address affiliate management inquiries. That team grew larger and larger until we conducted a formal pivot from affiliate into affiliate management.
Our systems continue to grow, and the future holds the introduction of AI to our proprietary software.”
How has Advertise Purple evolved since those early days — and where do you see the company going next?
Our company has evolved through a detailed structure of streamlined and standardized business systems. From day one, we knew that scaling could be a killer for a service-based business. We were aware that not only maintaining but improving the quality of our service was necessary for sustainable growth. Our systems continue to grow, and the future holds the introduction of AI to our proprietary software. This AI is designed to improve our service and to address the ever-changing needs of our global customers.
The opportunity to build a company with your friends that solves a trillion dollar-problem doesn’t come around very often. That’s the situation DISQO co-founder and CTO Drew Kutcharian found himself in five years ago. Here’s how Kutcharian and his co-founders got there in the first place and what’s happened since they made the leap and launched their company.
Tell us briefly about your founding story. What’s one thing people might not know about how DISQO was founded?
Before we founded DISQO, my co-founders and I were friends and colleagues for well over a decade. In 2014, we were developing a demand gen solution for the market research industry. In the process, we discovered how the fragmentation of the data supply chain negatively affected data quality, leading to trillions of wasted dollars by large enterprises.
Hence, we decided to found DISQO with the belief that true insights are only attained when you have accurate data from real people in a permission-based way. We built DISQO to give every marketer and insights professional accurate data and tools to make confident decisions.
Before we founded DISQO, my co-founders and I were friends and colleagues for well over a decade.”
How has DISQO evolved since those early days — and where do you see the company going next?
In the early days, we had a small engineering team of four people working on a monolithic codebase within a single AWS account who were creating a single product focused on capturing attitudinal data. Today, we are an agile organization with portfolio management and OKRs that is building multiple attitudinal and behavioral products.
We’ve also grown considerably and our team is now at over 110 people. Today, DISQOtech has 12 teams distributed across three portfolios — totalling 32 engineers, six product managers, five data analysts, two data scientists and five directors — who deploy dozens of microservices and data pipelines to 18 AWS accounts. We will be doubling our product and engineering teams to further innovate and redefine the future of market research. We will have quite a few technically challenging — and satisfying — initiatives going into the next year.
Los Angeles has no shortage of places where entrepreneurs can go and work on their new startups. However, sometimes you just want to do things the old school way and build your company in a garage. That’s the route PaymentCloud founder and CEO Shawn Silver took. While the company has since outgrown its garage, the team hasn’t forgotten all the hard work it took to get to where they are today.
Tell us briefly about your founding story. What’s one thing people might not know about how PaymentCloud was founded?
I started PaymentCloud with a team of four in a cramped garage, so it’s safe to say we come from humble beginnings. We each knew different aspects of the industry, so together with the vision of what I wanted to create within the payments space, we were a driving force. Because we found success pretty early on, it is hard for people to realize just how difficult it was in the beginning. Staying positive and on track were just a couple of the concerns that were always on our minds when we didn’t have much else to grasp onto. It took time and a lot of dedication to get where we are.
I started PaymentCloud with a team of four in a cramped garage, so it’s safe to say we come from humble beginnings.”
How has PaymentCloud evolved since those early days — and where do you see the company going next?
The company has evolved in just about every aspect since our founding in 2016. Our technology, processes, reporting and professionalism have all undergone much-needed improvement as the business has expanded. In the foreseeable future, we hope to keep growing and pushing the boundaries of what we can accomplish. Our primary solutions moving forward will be focused on implementing and streamlining solutions for SMBs nationwide.
Erik Huberman knows all too well how hard it can be for companies to find and hire top marketing talent. That’s why he founded Hawke Media, a full-service marketing consultancy designed to act as an outsourced CMO for its clients. While the company has scaled rapidly since launching in 2014, Huberman, who serves as CEO, said its most recent evolution is laying the groundwork for even greater growth.
Tell us briefly about your founding story. What’s one thing people might not know about how Hawke Media was founded?
I’ve found that it’s really hard to find and afford talented marketers to hire and work in-house, which is a problem because then you end up operating in a vacuum. If you’re trying to hire agencies, 99 percent of them have no history or background in being successful at actually growing businesses, and the few that are decent tend to be really expensive, want long contracts, have high minimums or want something else that makes them hard to work with. The end result is that if you’re not a Fortune 1000 or a very sexy and funded startup, you don’t get access to great marketing.
The ecosystem felt broken, so we built Hawke Media on the concept and purpose that every founder and every company deserves top-tier marketing. I knew I wanted to build the company, but, six months before I started, I booked a vacation to Thailand for two-and-a-half weeks. Because I was going out of town, I realized that I needed someone to jump in to help me manage my clients, so I pulled the trigger [and launched the company].
If you’re not a Fortune 1000 or a very sexy and funded startup, you don’t get access to great marketing.”
How has Hawke Media evolved since those early days — and where do you see the company going next?
We’ve evolved in many different ways over the past five-and-a-half years, but I’d say the most recent evolution is the professionalizing of the organization. We’re building procedures, processes and infrastructure so that we can scale our business. We want everything to work more efficiently at scale and perform better as we grow. Since we’ve been able to implement all these processes, we’re now able to grow on top of them.
We’ve brought in full HR, accounting, finance and recruiting teams. We’ve also created training that allows people to jump right into how we work at Hawke Media and then grow from there, versus just throwing them to the wolves and hoping for the best.
If Facebook hadn’t become the default way to reconnect with old classmates, colleagues and coworkers, MyLife.com might never have been born. According to Financial Planner and Analyst Matthew Mazzarella, the rise of the social media behemoth didn’t kill the company, which was founded two years before Facebook. Instead, it merely sped its evolution.
Tell us briefly about your founding story. What’s one thing people might not know about how MyLife was founded?
We originally started as Reunion.com, helping people reconnect with their classmates. However, an upstart company came along and took over the entire people-finding industry. That small company, Facebook, is still around today. But contrary to popular belief, not everyone in the world joined Facebook, so there was still a need for our services. Reunion later grew into MyLife, a company that not only helps people connect but also helps them control their online reputation.
We originally started as Reunion.com, helping people reconnect with their classmates.”
How has MyLife evolved since those early days — and where do you see the company going next?
MyLife has grown into the leading personal reputation platform in America. MyLife’s “Reputation Score” score gives everyone a quick way to say something good about themselves. A Reputation Score is like a credit score but more important. A credit score says only one thing about you, whereas a Reputation Score sheds light on many aspects of your life and career to help you look good personally and professionally. Today, MyLife Reputation Scores are helping people feel better about connecting with others online for dating and in shared marketplaces.