The answer is Los Angeles, as viewed from a dive bar in Skid Row-Adjacent. We haven’t had the opportunity to hang in said bar much because I’m not in LA a lot lately. Here’s my travel schedule of the last couple of weeks: LA, San Antonio, LA, Phoenix, LA, Berlin, Milan, Verano, Revoreto, Milan, Turin, Legnano, LA, Mexico City, LA, Puerto Vallarta, LA. Ninety-nine percent of this travel is LACI related because we’re building the Global Innovation Network (GIN), which will link together a couple dozen premier innovation institutions in key world markets. More about this is a bit.
KR and I are preparing to move further south into the industrial core of Los Angeles. While our current place is Frontier Land for most people, its becoming too gentrified for me, so we’re moving to an old fabric manufacturing building that’s being converted to lots of (even smaller than Factory Place) lofts. It’s in a good neighborhood: across the street from a strip club, next door to a marijuana dispensary, and it’s freeway close because its under a freeway.
It wasn’t easy to find because of its prime location:) We found it during one of our regular Sunday drives through the deserted streets of Vernon and surrounds. Vernon is best known for a Pedigree dog food plant, Jimmy Dean’s Sausage factory, and its the world’s metal recycling capital. I’m afraid these lofts will become a hot as well since Gino, the developer of said lofts, taped a telephone number on the side of his building to advertise leases and got over 100 calls for his 50 apartments in two days. He took the number down the next day.
Building GIN is rapidly becoming a full time gig in addition to my day job as ED of LACI. We now have partners in Germany (2), Italy (3), Sweden, Finland and Mexico. Next up is the rest of Latin America and Asia. Our goal is to have 12+ partners signed by the end of the year. Many of you may be asking the question that I get a lot from LACI’s stakeholders, “What the heck is a small incubator located in downtown Los Angeles doing building a global network?” I’m stating it much nicer than its usually asked.
Here’s the short answer: our goal is to make Los Angeles into a world-class innovation ecosystem and huge green economy. We believe we can’t do that without connecting to the world. What better way to connect to the world than placing LA in the center of an international network? The long answer would include that the environment and energy sustainability is a global problem, therefore its a global market that our companies need to take advantage of. One of LA’s key strengths is that it’s a leader in international trade and hence our efforts are in line with LA’s future. If we succeed in doing this, we will position LA’s economy for excellent growth for the remainder of this century.
As most of you know, I prefer to travel by motorcycle or at least by RV or fast car. Our European trip involved taxis, buses, trains, and planes over 5 days of 13 meetings in five different cities in two countries. Whew. We were always running for a train or bus and made all of them. I thought I was getting the hang of train travel until I took the wrong train in Northern Italy and came close to crossing the Austrian border before realizing that I had just spent 1 1/2 hours going in the wrong direction. Bottom line: lots of buses and trains, but I haven’t been on NVII in over 30 days. He barely has more than 1300 miles on him (I put 500+ on our first day together).
Here’s what all this looks like in pictures.