The Future 5 of Los Angeles Tech, Q2 2022
Sure the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the tech titans aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.
In an effort to highlight up-and-coming startups, Built In has launched The Future 5 across 11 major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five tech startups, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. Read our round-up of LA’s rising startups from last quarter here.
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While Tinseltown may be known for the glitz and glamor of entertainment, the city’s tech industry ventures far beyond LA’s sparkly surface. Los Angeles is home to companies across an array of industries, from aerospace engineering to electric vehicle manufacturing. However, local bigshots like SpaceX and Rivian may overshadow some of the smaller stars that are busy polishing their shine.
Los Angeles has no shortage of startups that are looking to find their stride, and many of them are innovating burgeoning spaces. From crypto and NFTs to online athletic mentoring, several up-and-coming LA startups are making waves along their road to stardom. Read on to learn more about the five startups featured in this quarter’s Future 5 series.
BUILT IN’S FUTURE 5 UP-AND-COMING LA STARTUPS, Q2 2022
- Afterparty (Web3/Events)
- BeatBread (Fintech)
- Obsesh (Professional Services)
- Skorch (Social Media)
- Superjoi (Fintech/Entertainment)
Looking to create an original use case for NFTs, Afterparty uses these digital verifiable assets to unlock real-world experiences. The company hosts in-person music festivals that fans access by purchasing NFT-based tickets.
Afterparty’s goal is to foster creativity and a sense of community. Its platform works to highlight the work of NFT artists as well as support other creators and help them build connections with their fans.
“We’re giving you an NFT that gives you access to a festival or to an event to see your favorite creator, and it gives you additional perks beyond that,” said David Fields, Afterparty’s co-founder and CEO. “This asset that you have may go up in value, may be tradable or usable in the future. And I think that’s a really interesting opportunity for more people to come into the ecosystem and start to appreciate what an NFT can mean.”
The company has minted two NFT collections of its own, Utopians and Guardians, the first of which has already launched. Many of its upcoming creator-made NFT collections will tie into Afterparty’s festivals and other events where those artists can appear in person.
The freedom of the online streaming space has unlocked the opportunity for artists to build out their businesses without the need for big-name record labels. Founded on the principle of empowering independent music artists to control their own careers, beatBread provides capital to tomorrow’s potential stars. After that, it steps aside and lets the musician take full charge of how that money gets invested.
“We’ve had a number of artists come to us rather than take a label deal, and we’ve had artists come to us, use the money to grow their business and then take a label deal later,” beatBread CEO Peter Sinclair said. “For us, labels aren’t the enemy. We just think that we’re a way to empower artists to navigate the system better.”
BeatBread has funded rapper and singer Yung Bleu, who won the BET award for Best New Hip Hop Artist in 2021. Although the company provides artists with capital, Sinclair emphasized that each person’s success was fully their own. Coming up next for beatBread, the company is hoping to launch new features this summer that will give artists increased access to capital and better term deals.
Building out an athletic career takes more than moxie. Obsesh is a remote coaching and mentoring platform looking to connect talented individuals with the resources they need to build out their professional careers. The platform features a growing network of top athletes — currently about 300 strong — that consumers can tap for individualized, one-on-one guidance.
“Our goal is to make it easy to access and get expertise and advice because everybody needs a mentor and everybody needs an expert, and usually in sports, you learn from the people that are better than you,” said Tracy Benson, Obsesh’s CEO and co-founder.
Just as the platform helps aspiring athletes access coaching, Obsesh also serves the athletes who are contributing to that service. The company wants to help alleviate the financial stress that comes with pursuing a career in sports. All of the platform’s mentors set their own rates for coaching.
The next stage of development for Obsesh will allow athletes and users to connect live in real-time.
Looking for fun things to do in a big city can become tiresome with so many options to choose from. Skorch offers users a handpicked list of the hottest destinations their city has to offer. Built for users who want to be up-to-date and in the know about trendy places and hidden gems, Skorch’s mobile app displays local restaurants, bars, coffee shops and attractions — without users having to scour lengthy reviews and blog posts.
“People really seem to crave a simple, intuitive and trusted way to find the best restaurants, bars and cafes, places to go and things to do, but … we are all in a bit of cognitive overload,” Lane Petrauskas, founder fo Skorch, told Built In. “We have endless options, endless choices right at our fingertips, which is a blessing and a curse because it can make a simple question like, ‘What’s a great trendy spot for dinner,’ a really overwhelming question.”
Active across 15 North American markets, the company plans to extend its reach into new cities and eventually counties. It also wants to add new categories to its platform including hospitality, retail and fitness and wellness.
While not all of us strive to be the next big internet sensation, many of us follow those who do. Looking to channel these fandom networks into liquidity for online creators, Superjoi is a platform to help fans offer creators direct financial support using cryptocurrency. In addition, users can also co-create content with them and earn exclusive rewards for being a superfan.
“We invest so many hours every single day in these creators and watch that content religiously while we get nothing back,” Superjoi’s CEO Chris Knight said. “We’re simply a like, a DM or comment. So what we wanted to build … was the platform where fans actually got an upside in their favorite creators’ success.”
On the Superjoi app, all of a creator’s social handles are linked to their landing page, and what they share on Superjoi gets distributed to those platforms. This page also lists all the campaigns a creator is currently funding for their next content project, and fans can contribute to those campaigns using an in-app currency called SuperCoin, a crypto stablecoin. In addition, fans can chip in ideas for new content and gain the opportunity to co-create content with their favorite creator.