|L.A. Startup Club founders Daniel Hengeveld and Micki Krimmel outside of their offices at the Idyllic Nerd Commune in downtown's Arts District.|
Would you contribute 10 bucks to get an adult webcomix series featuring voiceovers from real porn stars off the ground? How about $5 for a stainless steel buttplug project? Ben Tao and Eric Lai, founders of Offbeatr, an adult version of crowd-funding sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter, seem to think you might.
There's only one problem. Who will hold onto the money while the buttplug company waits to see whether it can raise the full amount it needs? Crowd-funding sites take donations under the condition that your credit card will be charged only if the project being funded reaches its goal, but PayPal, American Express and Amazon Payments all refuse to process orders on adult material.
What's a struggling startup to do? Why, consult and exchange information with the competition, of course!
Every other Monday evening at the Idyllic Nerd Commune (INC), a co-working loft space in the downtown Arts District, the L.A. Startup Club, a collective consisting of the leaders of seven new tech companies, gathers over take-out to vent about the challenges their businesses face, to offer each other honest feedback and goal accountability and to share tangible resources, such as the contact info for a good Java designer or a comprehensive list of deep-pocketed investors. Startups involved range from the L.A. branch of a D.C.-based solar utility company to a service that saves parents from tedious shopping trips by sending a customizable box of children's clothing every month, started by Sean Percival, featured in LA Weekly's 2009 People issue as founder of L.A. tech blog lalawag.
The intimate, leaderless club is the brainchild of startup veterans Micki Krimmel and Daniel Hengeveld, who aim to find a happy medium between the superficial schmoozing of networking events and the top-down mentorship and forfeiture of equity at startup incubators and accelerators, all of which provide support and advice for fledgling companies in the newly thriving Silicon Beach tech scene in Santa Monica and Venice. More »