A Culture of Coopetition

jason calacanisL.A. pundit & CEO Jason Calacanis

One of those “early and successful” types is Jason Calacanis, a serial entrepreneur and investor, an old-timer who suffered through the dot-com bust and survived to build Mahalo, his Santa Monica-based startup. He tells us, “If I was in the Valley, I would be up against Twitter, Google, LinkedIn and Facebook. I think I’d lose most of those battles.”

But in L.A., he says, “I love the lack of competition for talent… I never lose a talent race.”

Craig seconds this emotion: “Once you build your team, you don’t have to worry about poaching. You have a longer runway to get the team together and produce value without the next tech giant or hot startup stealing your awesome startup babies away from you.”

Summing up the cooperation-not-competition ethic so common to smaller startup markets, Craig adds, “Being a tight-knit band of entrepreneurs, we constantly help each other and new startups with funding, sales, strategy, recruiting and more. It’s a close band of brothers and sisters here, and we all take the time to help the Silicon Beach tribe grow strong.”

Flores, like many of his Angeleno peers, can rattle off a long list of surprisingly hot L.A.-based startups with the same celerity others might display when naming their favorite bands. Craig’s BetterWorks and MobileRoadie (which he has advised) generally make the list, as does Zaarly, which launched at Startup Weekend L.A. with a tweet from Demi Moore and an investment from Ashton Kutcher.

“L.A. is churning out some killer companies,” he says, “and it’s getting better by the day. There are great events to go to that do a better job of mixing business and pleasure than you’ll get in the Valley.”