A Los Angeles Transplant Re-Invents LA for the World's Top Innovators in Business
By Samantha Skelton
When Jodie Hopperton moved to Los Angeles from the UK, she didn't know the influence she would have on thought-leaders and founders of the world's top businesses.
With her new book, Los Angeles Reinvented, she explores why innovators are moving south of Silicon Valley to the booming home of Hollywood.
Tell me a little about your background and what drove you to move to Los Angeles.
I had a background in news media. I worked in the UK then moved to Paris, Madrid, New York, and eventually moved back to London to figure out my next steps.
An opportunity came up to move to Los Angeles but I didn't know much about the city so before I committed I did some research and found that Los Angeles was a hub of innovation around media and technology.
Then when I moved here, it took me a while to understand the lay of the land - more so than other cities.
What made you feel confident and ready to branch out with your own company, FORE: Media?
I had been consulting with startups for the last five years while figuring out where I wanted to live, so starting my own company wasn't that scary.
Executives at news media companies would come to me saying they wanted to go to Silicon Valley, but after going through a needs analysis with them I directed them to LA. This city houses most of the startups that should be on their radar.
Executives come over to develop relationships with other business leaders, and that involves having deep conversations in person.
What inspired you to write Los Angeles Reinvented?
After I started FORE: Media, I would get inbound requests from senior business leaders who would say 'this is a problem we need to fix' they would say 'we need to go to Silicon Valley. Can you help?'
Then we would go through 3 to 4 things we need to look at and companies that are solving those issues and my response was often... "guess what? These companies are in Los Angeles."
I feel that LA doesn't do its PR in the same way that other cities do and in some ways it's more difficult to navigate - it doesn't have a city center and is very much a relationship-driven place.
So, the book is a handbook of explaining Los Angeles specifically for that group of people who just don't know it. It's for the business and culturally curious. I explain seven different industries, what they're working on and why they're headquartered in LA.
You talk about the innovation that's happening in Los Angeles, what's something that comes to mind currently that's happening in LA in regards to innovating and creating new ways to do things?
LA is proving itself as the center of consumer innovation because of the diversity of the city.
For example, transportation innovation - LA is known for its terrible traffic, but some of the best ideas have been innovated from these problems, like Bird scooters - the fastest company ever to reach a $1 billion valuation - which started in Santa Monica.
What's your personal favorite part of your book?
I just love speaking with people. Every time I spoke to a new executive, a new founder, another Angeleno, I learned so much. Every single one of those conversations taught me something new.
From the technology side of things, Disney took me to their StudioLAB and showed me how they used old-school camera techniques with new technology like VR. I loved the mixing of old school methods and brand-new technology, as seen in Lion King.
Another big takeaway: a lot of founders wanted to look at their impact on community and environment. They asked: what's the social impact of their business? They weren't just looking at their bottom line. It's humbling. People want to do good, like Homeboy Industries for example
The way Angelenos are embracing the thought process of, 'how can we do business, but how can we help the community?' is a really strong ethos.
You're originally from the UK and not an LA native. What's something that's surprised you since living here?
How open people are. In London no one looks at each other in the Tube - it's an unwritten rule. When I first moved here it shocked me how people I passed on the street would smile and say hello.
Have you seen a change with things becoming more virtual? Like Skype meetings, etc.
It's opened up the ability to speak to people in other cities, but the ethos of Angelenos is still face-to-face meetings.
The other thing that I think is interesting about the LA workforce is that it has pioneered the "gig economy," because Hollywood and the movie work is often cyclical and on-demand.
People will work for a few months and then take time off. That's why we're seeing co-working spaces doing well and we have the technology to enable it.
What are you currently working on?
I had a baby right after I finished my book so that's a big focus for me right now but I'm also speaking at some events and continuing to run FORE:media. Any events open to the public will be up on the book's website.
For more information on Jodie, visit: www.JodieHop.com.
To buy her book head to: www.LAreinvented.com.
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