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Meet Miki Reynolds of Grid110 in Downtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Miki Reynolds.

Miki, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’m a Bay Area native, moved to LA to attend UCLA (Go Bruins!) and never looked back except for the occasional holiday. I was primarily a Westside dweller until about 6 years ago when I made the adventurous trek across the 405 to Downtown LA. In all my time here in LA, DTLA is the first place that’s actually felt like home to me. There’s something oddly charming and comfortable to me about our urban city center. I love the energy, culture, street hustle, walkability factor, central location and that it’s easily accessible by public transportation. I even gave up my car two years ago.

Professionally, I’ve worked in tech my entire career. After managing digital projects at global entertainment corporations like MGM Studios and 20th Century Fox, and heading up operations/product for a software development company, I found myself in the precarious situation of being unemployed about 4 years ago. The company I had spent 6 years helping to build had just shut down. I found myself in DTLA, desperately seeking a community to connect with to determine my next steps, but I felt like I was struggling to find one. After spending most of my career up building things for other people, I decided that it was time to build the things that I felt needed to exist in the world. Two very special things came out of that time. I was brought on board to launch and build the DTLA campus and community for tech education company General Assembly. Simultaneously, I met a group of entrepreneurs invested in supporting the growth of the DTLA startup ecosystem. The latter would become known as Grid110, the organization I co-founded with that team and currently run as Executive Director today. My heart is very much embedded in community building, connecting people through shared experiences and elevating the LA tech ecosystem.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
No road is ever smooth or clearcut, especially when it comes to career paths. And definitely with entrepreneurship. Our paths often end up being a non-linear (sometimes backtracking) mess, but there’s also the beauty of discovery in that. You figure out what you like and don’t like, uncover what fulfills/motivates you, and challenge yourself to find growth in the uncomfortable moments.

After the company I worked for shut down in 2013, the resulting period of unemployment was filled with anxiety, stress, uncertainty, doubt, fear, and even an odd sense of relief. I spent 10 years climbing a career ladder, checking off all the milestones I wanted to achieve but ultimately found myself unhappy with what I was doing. I also found that burnout manifested itself physically when I woke up with crippling neck pain. Instead of further adding to the stress and anxiety of job hunting when I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to be doing next, I spent some time exploring different creative outlets, activities, events, and people. It was during that time that I realized what was missing for me (community) and what I wanted to do next.

Working in the primarily male-dominated tech industry, I found that I had few female role models, mentors or even bosses in my professional circles. I became very internally motivated for myself, but when I had the opportunity to hire and manage other women, I made the effort to ensure professional development and mentorship was a core focus for them. I feel very fortunate to have connected with several peer mentors in the past few years that help me through any current challenges and obstacles. I’ve also recently realized that I often crave a challenging environment and seek out to do the things that scare me so that I don’t stay stagnant or lose motivation. My current role provides a lot of challenges, in all the best ways.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Grid110 story. Tell us more about the business.
Founded in 2015 as an economic and community development non-profit supporting the growth of the startup ecosystem in Downtown Los Angeles, Grid110 began as a collective of 7 entrepreneurs who all shared a similar vision of Downtown LA as the next tech hub.

Since the inception of the first program, we have now provided 50 early-stage companies with access to free office space, mentoring and other critical resources through accelerator-style programs. We do not currently provide any funding, but companies also do not give up any equity or pay fees to participate in the program. Our focus is to help companies realize sustainable growth paths that allow them to scale their businesses (and teams) right here in Los Angeles. We have also hosted various one-off events open to the broader community: hackathons, panels, pitch competitions, networking events and weekend boot camps.

I’m most proud of the fact that we have treated this as a startup ourselves from the beginning. We identified a problem in our own backyard and set out find a way to solve it. We are constantly listening and learning from our companies and iterating our programs when necessary. We’ve been lean and scrappy from the beginning, yet have been able to create measurable impact. We are very fortunate to have extraordinary partners (The Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti, LA Economic Workforce Development Department, Nixon Peabody and Cross Campus) that enable us to make all of this possible.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I don’t know that I believe so much in good/back luck as much as I think you make certain things happen through effort and grit…and some things happen for a reason. Opportunities are typically created, they don’t just land in your lap. You have to take initiative and control for decisions in your life and business, but know that sometimes things won’t turn out the way you want them to. And, you have to learn to be ok with that. But it’s how you handle yourself at that moment that I think can really define your character. There are times when we feel like we’ve been lucky (with companies, partners, opportunities), but those moments were also the result of a fair amount of effort.

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