LACI is a cleantech incubator in Los Angeles, California, that serves as a facility for both companies and individuals to work on prototypes and new designs centered around clean technology.
- In this movie, we are at the LACI here in Los Angeles. It's a clean tech incubator that has a portfolio of companies that they help from start-up to production. And with me today I have Ben Stapleton, and he's going to help explain to us what is it, and what do they do, and why this might be something for you to check out. So, Ben, thanks for joining us. - Thank you. - [Host] So what's your official title? - My official title is Chief Partnerships Officer.
But in the day, I guess I do a little bit of everything. So I manage our innovation campus here in the Arts District, as well as partnerships and a variety of programs for the LA Clean Tech Incubator. - [Host] And what is LACI? What is it? - That's a great question. We like to keep it ambiguous. No, I'm just kidding. Essentially, we're a nonprofit that was founded a little more than five years ago, spun out of the Mayor's office, really for the purpose of growing the clean tech economy throughout the Greater LA region.
Up until about a year and a half ago, we were in a 3500 square foot building up the street, which you've been to, which was literally our garage that we grew up in. It was a converted bus garage. And we had chairs from the 70s, we looked like most nonprofits you'd walk into. But I think that it was actually really good for us. As an incubator, you know, I think a lot of incubators start with too much focus on their space. We actually had to really focus on the value we were creating for the ecosystem, and we're delivering our portfolio companies. Over the past five years, we've had over 70 companies involved in the program.
We've helped them raise about 130 million dollars, and helped create about 1500 jobs. So in terms of how most incubators are typically judged, we're really proud of the work we've done, and we were actually ranked third in the world out of 1200 business incubators at the end of 2015, and named one of two high-impact incubators in all North America, which, for us being fairly young, and most of the other companies on that top 10 were in the 30-years-old class, it was a great honor. And really focusing on trying to take technology and apply it to solve environmental problems, and trying to build good companies to do that.
- So I see you have a world-class prototyping facility here, and you use, pretty much you're agnostic on all materials and all material processes, and it's all here for all these companies that you support. Can you give us a little bit of end-to-end, a little bit, of what you do for them? - Yeah, happy to answer that question. So for our portfolio companies, really, everything we do is, we're trying to design services and programs to help them be successful.
How do we create better access to markets? How do we accelerate that commercialization process? How do we get them the funding they need? So we have executives in residence who work with our companies day in and day out on whatever issues that come up. These are folks that have lived in the trenches, and been through it, and built companies, sold companies, done M&A, whatever it might be. And then we have some specialists in residence who focus on particular issues, so for instance we have someone that focuses on HR issues, hiring, firing, contracts. We have someone that focuses on branding. We have someone who runs our investment pipeline, and really puts our companies through a boot camp on how to structure their financials, how to get the due diligence materials together.
We help the companies go through the whole investment process. We don't raise money, or we don't invest right now in the companies ourselves, but we help them raise capital and make those introductions to make that happen. We also will help with any issues they have when it comes to manufacturing, right, is something that you'll probably be interested in, designing for manufacturability, designing to be able to scale. Some companies come to us and they're like, hey, we've already raised money, and we're like, great, well, have you figured out how to run the business now that you have that money? Have you figured out how to avoid the pitfalls that come up all the time, whether that's going through procurement the right way, whether that's actually tracking your data in a way that's impactful to the customer.
So at the end of the day, what we're doing is really being there as a teammate to help these companies block-and-tackle whatever happens. Sometimes we're just startup therapy for some people at certain times, but that's important. And the prototyping center, for us, was always something that was very key. When I first got involved in this project, probably three and a half, four years ago, literally it was a box that just said "lab", and we had to sit back and say, hey, how do we create a space that enables our companies to develop products faster, and do it in a way where they have access to unparalleled equipment in the same location.
So we really looked at how we maximize our capability on a per-square-foot basis. We have 15 thousand square feet in our prototyping center, so we have wet labs, electronics labs. To have those in the same environment with a machine shop, and with a 3D print shop, and with industrial sewing machines. Yeah, it's very rare to have that combination, and obviously you've seen, we have a water jet, a bunch of high-end shop equipment, welding shop. We're looking at adding a wireless testing facility. So trying to do everything we can to enable our companies to be successful.
As an example, we have a company called Hive Lighting that's been with us for probably almost four years now, and they're focused on super-efficient plasma And LED lights for the entertainment industry. They were with us in a warehouse next to our old facility, and we came here, and they'd been struggling to get plasma, as a technology, adapted to the entertainment industry. So they decided they were going to take all their know-how and apply that to LEDS. So they created a full-spectrum, low-cost, super-efficient LED light for filming, for shooting.
They were able to go from ideation to concept to iterative design to final product in less than six months in our prototyping center. They launched it on Kickstarter. They were hoping to raise about 30 thousand dollars, ended up raising almost a half a million dollars in terms of selling those lights. They're now manufacturing a thousand lights across the street in another warehouse that we leased, and have subdivided for assembly for a number of our portfolio companies. They've hired up people to do that work. They did all that in less than six months.
In a traditional process, that would have probably taken them at least 12, maybe 18. And so that's really the value of what we're doing here, and they did all that before this facility was really technically open for us. So we just opened to the public, really, in the last couple months. And we run it through a membership model. And we see that as an opportunity to create a community of technology experts mixing with people who are working on all kinds of ideas, and that becomes pipeline for companies. - Well, it's great to see that you're not just taking 'em up to a certain point and then throwing 'em over the wall.
It's great to see that you're actually taking it all the way to seeing success, and thanks for those stories. I mean, it's really great to see that this is offered here in the city of Los Angeles, and that you also have a subscription model, it's also not just for your portfolio companies, but also open to the public, so everybody has access to this great resource that you've provided. - Thank you. - So thanks for letting us be here, and we're going to learn more about your shop and check out the things that you do with your materials, and look at your educational system over there, and we'll learn more about your membership here in a little bit.
- All right, great. Thank you very much. - Thanks.
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