Mayor Eric Garcetti recently launched the Entrepreneur in Residence Programto boost Los Angeles' economy by making City Hall a partner to our city's entrepreneurs. Amir Tehrani is one of the two entrepreneurs selected to bring his personal expertise to City Hall as part of this effort. An alumnus of UC Irvine and the UCLA Anderson School of Management, Mr. Tehrani has immersed himself in the world of entrepreneurship. He is the Founder and President of Allied Group and serves on the board of several ventures. He also serves on the boards of the Young Presidents Organization Bel Air Chapter, the Hub Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.
Q: What do you hope to achieve in your one year residency?
The most effective entrepreneurial cities/ecosystems are significant actors with tangible polices/programs that attract and retain entrepreneurial talent and investment capital. Bringing meaningful entrepreneurship and innovation to traditional business development is a subset of a city’s broader economic development policy, which constitutes engagement on multiple fronts. I intend to drive strategy aimed at engaging the entrepreneurial community and identifying opportunities for the City to foster innovation and entrepreneurialism. To this end, I believe that if we can engage the right people, communicate the right message, and support the highest potential opportunities, we can develop LA into the leading entrepreneurial city in the country.
I believe that this initiative will put LA on the map as a city that is taking entrepreneurship and job creation seriously—we will be the vanguard in redefining the partnership between entrepreneurship and municipal government. Los Angeles is the home of the creative economy and the EIR position will help cement this role in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Q: What are LA's greatest strengths as an entrepreneurship capital?
When you think about who owns the brand of finance, you automatically think of New York, and when you think of who owns the brand of technology, you automatically think of San Francisco. But when you think of who owns the brand of entrepreneurship, which of course encompasses far more than just technology, I think that is up for grabs. When I think of what makes for a great entrepreneur, I think of two things: creativity and diversity. With its entertainment/media roots, fashion/apparel foothold, original art scene, and innovative array of manufacturing and high tech companies, LA has creativity in abundance. And you would be hard pressed to find a more diverse city that Los Angeles and not just the diversity of its population. Its geographic diversity (you can surf and ski in the same day), its diversity of art, architecture, food, industry (manufacturing, apparel, food, aerospace, video games, media, etc), and of course its people.
These two fundamental building blocks of entrepreneurship -- creativity and diversity -- are significant strengths of Los Angeles. We will aim to leverage this competitive advantage to create long-term economic growth by identifying, accelerating, and fostering the best high-impact entrepreneurs. This will create thriving companies that employ hundreds, even thousands of people, and generate millions in wages, revenue, and taxes. These entities will also have the power to inspire countless others as conspicuous role models. Together, these entrepreneurs hold the key to sustained economic growth that will continue to make the LA ecosystem vibrant and exciting.
Q: You sit on the Young Presidents Organization Bel Air Chapter. How do you plan on using your experience to foster connections between start-ups, entrepreneurs and prospective venture capital and mentors for the youth in Los Angeles?
As Mayor Garcetti has mentioned many times, job creation is his top priority. Everyone knows that the vast majority of jobs come from small and medium sized businesses. Nurturing and developing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in LA will require relationship based work. The Young Presidents Organization (YPO) includes the founders and CEO's of many of the fastest growing and most promising companies in Los Angeles, so this allows for a faster communication and interaction that benefits our city. Working with all of these stakeholders and engaging them to support one another, as well as mentoring the young entrepreneurs of the future, will substantially invigorate the ecosystem.