For the last week of the year, we're featuring the thoughts and reflections of some of the movers and shakers of Southern California's high tech community. We asked the same four questions of a variety of top technology entrepreneurs, investors, and others, to hear what they're thinking about, and are sharing it here over the next week.
Kevin Winston, is the organizer of Digital LA, the popular and widely attended networking organization for the Los Angeles startup, web, movie, music, marketing, and social media community.
1. What was the biggest news for you/your firm this year?
The biggest news for Digital LA this year has been creating and spearheading Silicon Beach Fest, LA's first startup entertainment community festival in Santa Monica and Venice in June, 2012. There was energy and excitement in the air with more than 2,000 startup and entertainment attendees mostly from LA, and also curious VCs, investors and angels from Silicon Valley, Chicago, and New York. We met and shared ideas and business cards, from the opening party at the Viceroy, to the packed panels starring Silicon Beach accelerators, VCs, startup CEOs, digital content creators, movie, music, games, and PR pros; hackathon, demo days, student pitch fests, parties and more. At the closing party, attendees kept saying "This is great! When's the next one?" So we did a one-day fall Silicon Beach Fest at io/LA in Hollywood. Both Silicon Beach Fests featured LA Mayoral Candidate Eric Garcetti, and were covered in several Forbes articles, TechCrunch, PandoDaily, and national and local press. We'll head back to the beach on the first week of summer for a week-long Silicon Beach Fest in Santa Monica June 2013. In addition to Silicon Beach Fest, we also held Digital LA events at Sundance, SXSW, E3, Comic-Con, and in London during the Olympics. We launched a Digital LA - Women series with four panels starring female founders, entrepreneurs, developers and PR, which will also continue into the new year. All of these new Digital LA activities reflects the energy and dynamic nature of LA's digital community, with thanks to our friends at TechZulu, PageWoo, StartEngine, Amplify, Launchpad, MuckerLab, io/LA, Cross Campus, ROC, startup CEOs, USC, UCLA, and many more!
2. In your opinion, what events, companies, or people made the biggest impact on the technology world this year?
The biggest impact on the LA tech scene in 2012 is the arrival of the accelerators and coworking spaces, which have helped drive LA's tech scene like never before. Over the past year, several accelerators have become major players to support LA's startup community: StartEngine, Amplify, Launchpad, MuckerLab, and Science find, fund, nurture, mentor, support and graduate startups. The accelerators have several success stories already in under a year including PageWoo, Invested.In, Look.io, Dollar Shave Club, and many more. In addition, new coworking spaces like Cross Campus, io/LA, ROC Santa Monica, and NextSpace, in addition to longtime friends Coloft and Coworks, provide the crucial physical space for both coworking and networking events, which both bring the startup community together for critical sharing of ideas, finding talent, and relationship building. Accelerators and coworking spaces will continue to be the foundation for our growing startup scene.
3. What was the biggest lesson you learned over the past year (good or bad)?
The biggest lesson learned is whatever you're doing, go for it and take it to the next level. With energy, passion, hard work, a few all nighters, and support from friends, business partners, and clients, you can make it happen. After you reach success, celebrate, and thank supporters. And new doors will open you never knew existed.
4. What are the technologies, companies, or things we ought to watch in 2013?
In LA tech, keep watch on our accelerators, coworking spaces, content creators, and startup CEOs over the next year. This past year 2012 was all about forming teams, picking players, and choosing uniforms. Now the stage is set for Silicon Beach to really start to play ball in 2013.
See more insights from the Southern California high tech community in our continued series this whole week!