Plug In South LA is taking its successful Lunch & Learn accelerator series and launching an intimate, intensive accelerator program for a small cohort of founders from South LA. The seven-month program is cultivating five next-generation entrepreneurs who have already launched and are in the process of raising funds.
The 2019–2020 Lunch & Learn accelerator program takes place in South LA and around Los Angeles at leading VC firms, corporations, entertainment and digital media studios, covering important topics for the entrepreneurs to create traction and enhance their growth. For this first cohort, Plug In South LA is providing monthly collective meetings, individual updates, networking events, and mentorship.
Meet these pioneering entrepreneurs:
Jibril Jackson, Hyve
After graduating from Morehouse College, Jibril received his JD from Stanford Law School and spent the first part of his career in mergers and acquisitions, initially as an attorney for Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, and later as an investment banker for Citigroup and Guggenheim Partners before founding Hyve.
Hyve rebuilt the social media experience to be fast and beautiful. No more endless scrolling and inaccurate algorithms guessing your interests. Hyve was designed to make your feed easily and quickly digestible. And not just one feed, but all of them. Hyve connects your Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media presences into one stunning app.
Micah Jackson, Esqapes Immersive Relaxation
Micah Jackson has a long history of interactive design and innovation during a professional career that spans nearly 20 years. He worked for AOL, Yahoo, Disney, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In 2012, he started Angeles Vista Creative Ventures (AVCV) and released a mobile game for iOS called Bugchinko and a PC demo for a project called Messenger. He recently worked as a consultant and external producer on projects for Sony Pictures Entertainment and Walt Disney Imagineering.
He created Esqapes Immersive Relaxation in 2018 after starting to experiment with virtual reality experiences in imaginative settings. Esqapes pairs beautifully crafted virtual environments with a soothing massage to transport the mind and body, helping people relax and de-stress during the work week. The technology provides an affordable mental and physical wellness option for people where they work.
Benjamen Janey, Spooler, Inc.
Benjamen Janey’s career began in the music business. He co-founded a successful indie label at the age of 20, signed nine artists, and distributed records throughout 12 US states. As a songwriter, Benjamen has written for artists like Fugees frontman Wyclef Jean.
His idea of customizing apparel for celebrities and tourists on Venice Beach became Spooler, a tech-driven apparel company that develops digital products to improve the shopping experience for clothing consumers online and through a mobile app. Spooler aims to change the world by using technology to empower everyday people to take control of what they wear — and the statements they want to make.
Ron Johnson, Gro Lens
Ron Johnson attributes his business acumen to seven years of enterprise sales of technology and financial products at organizations like Xerox and Paychex. He is also a UCLA Anderson School of Management Riordan MBA fellow alum, and received bachelor of science degree from Biola University. Ron’s passion for plants and people lead him to start a commercial grow in 2013.
Based in Los Angeles, California, Ron started the software-as-a-service company Gro Lens to advance the grow community with data-driven web technology. Gro Lens caters to California’s commercial grow operations by not only simplifying compliance reporting but providing growers with unique insights that help produce the high-quality consistent flower that consumers love. Ron is also a South Los Angeles Native
Remy Meraz, Me Tyme Network
Marketer, innovator, and social entrepreneur Remy Meraz has a 25-year sales and marketing career. She has held positions with companies that include Telemundo, Clear Channel Communications, Continental Airlines, and Urban Marketing Corporation of America. She managed national advertising and marketing campaigns for established brands such as Nike and HBO, and was instrumental in launching new products such as the CE5, the first-to-market clean energy system manufactured by ClearEdge Power, a $200 million VC-backed startup.
She created Me Tyme Network to help employees think, feel, and work better. Leveraging cutting-edge software and data analysis, Me Tyme helps employees cope with their emotional stress in real time. Available 24/7, Me Tyme is bringing a fresh, innovative solution to the human resources and talent management industry by providing an immediate way to manage emotional health that is aligned with employees’ daily habits.
When the 2019–2020 Lunch & Learn program concludes in March, the entrepreneurs will give presentations before an audience of influential leaders and mentors who can assist them with fundraising and business development opportunities.
“Plug In South LA’s Lunch & Learn accelerator program brings together brilliant minds and talent for the greater purpose of making a positive difference in South LA’s community,” said program manager Molly Crete. “By having a small cohort of five founders, we can truly dive deep, connect them with consistent mentors, and take their businesses to the next level.”