Grid110 supports entrepreneurs with a no-cost no equity accelerator program
By Alex Hutton
Since it was founded in 2015, nonprofit Grid110 has used a variety of initiatives to bolster small businesses and entrepreneurs in Los Angeles. Throughout April, the organization is accepting applications for its Residency program, a cohort that meets once a week throughout the summer to accelerate small businesses and their founders.
Grid110 was started by a group of seven LA workers and residents who felt like they could fill a niche in the community.
“We wanted to build the type of startup ecosystem that we wanted and felt like didn’t exist at the time,” said Grid110 executive director Miki Reynolds. “One that better reflected our community (and) the founders that we knew that lead with values like generosity and empathy.”
The Residency program is one of Grid110’s signatures, and it features Grid110 working with about 20 businesses over a 12-week period. The first few weeks focus on identifying the challenges that the companies might be facing. The rest of the meetings feature workshops and panels with advice and information, as well as smaller group and one-on-one meetings with Grid110 employees.
Diversity and inclusivity are especially important to Grid110, and the organization places an emphasis on helping businesses run by women and people of color.
“We’re moving toward a majority-minority country,” Reynolds said. “So our community should reflect that. The support that we’re giving to entrepreneurs and what the startup ecosystem looks like, it should be more skewed to what the majority is looking like.”
Grid110 has been able to help a wide range of people and companies through the Residency program. Reynolds specifically cited Venice software company Repeat, Santa Monica-based mobile app AudioCardio, and West LA-based mobile app Struct Club as examples of businesses that have benefited from Grid110’s help.
“Each company comes in with unique milestones that they’re trying to accomplish in the program,” Reynolds said. “We don’t try and dictate what success should look like for them or where they should be when they end the program. It really is around them identifying the milestones and then us helping them get there.”
Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted operations. The programs have historically been in person, which was beneficial for those attending.
“It was a really important aspect of community building, just the organic and authentic relationships that were able to develop with people coming in to work out of the coworking space that we were at,” Reynolds recalled. “They had free space for the time of the program, getting lunches together, and meeting before and after sessions.”
The most recent programs have been held online, mostly through Zoom, but have still been effective. Grid110 was still able to reach entrepreneurs and impart the knowledge that has always been the driving force behind its work.
“We didn’t have to change anything on our schedule,” Reynolds said. “We met people exactly where they were at, and I think it was at a time when people really needed the support the most because they were trying to adapt to circumstances of the pandemic, both for their business as well as personally.”
Right now, Reynolds and the rest of Grid110’s workers are exploring the possibility of expanding in LA and putting a greater emphasis on Black and Latino founders. But Reynolds thinks that the organization can eventually achieve even greater heights.
“Because of the virtual aspect of our program, it’s really shined a light on what could be possible in terms of expansion beyond LA,” Reynolds said. “So we’re exploring some things for later this year that may not be city-specific, that could be opened nationally, and are excited about finding partners that want to support us in that work.”