Los Angeles Business Journal

Start Engine Accelerator Expands Downtown

By Natalie Jarvey Monday, January 14, 2013

When Start Engine went looking for a second L.A. location, it only had to go 11 miles down Wilshire Boulevard.

The accelerator, which is based out of a Wilshire Boulevard office in Westwood, has opened a downtown office, also on Wilshire, to give Eastside startups a more convenient place to work.

Howard Marks, Start Engine’s co-chair, said the accelerator has received a number of applications from teams based at USC, Caltech or Eastside neighborhoods such as Silver Lake since it began mentoring startups in 2011. Those teams would have to make the trek to Westwood to work with the accelerator.

So Marks decided to open a second location to make the commute for those teams a little easier.

“Downtown has changed tremendously in the last few years,” Marks said. “We want to be part of it, and we want to be front and center early. We get it. The Westside is not the only place you can succeed in building a business.”

When the downtown office opens this week, it will house two Start Engine startups. The members of those startups will visit the Westwood office once a week to meet with the other startups in their class. Mentors and other people affiliated with Start Engine will be able to visit the downtown space for events and networking.

The downtown office is located in the TenTen building. Marks said he selected the building because it is known to offer creative office space at rents that accommodate small startups.

"It’s a building that’s flexible with startups,” he said. “It creates a community for tenants. Our teams will get the benefit of being integrated into dozens of startups already in the building.”

Accelerators provide seed funding, mentorship and work space to startups for a short period – usually about 3 or 4 months – in exchange for a small stake in the company. They are not the same as incubators, which typically bring in management teams to develop a company over a longer period of time. Accelerators are popular with tech startups.

Start Engine is the first accelerator to move into downtown. It has set itself apart from the other L.A. accelerators, which include LaunchPad LA, Amplify and MuckerLab, with its plan to mentor a large number of startups each year.

Start Engine is currently in its fourth class of startups. The group of eight teams will present to investors at the end of the month. Meanwhile, the accelerator has also begun mentoring companies as part of its fifth class.

Startups that have emerged from Start Engine include GonnaBe, an app for coordinating plans with others, and Enplug, which has developed a network of indoor digital billboards.