General Assembly Brings its Entrepreneurial Education to Los Angeles with LaunchpadLA Partnership

By Michael Carney , written on September 27, 2012

From The News Desk

The Los Angeles startup ecosystem, already busting at the seams with incubators and accelerators, is set to get a new type of entrepreneur factory. General Assembly, the New York City-based technology, entrepreneurship, and design academy, is opening up an LA division in partnership with LaunchpadLA.

“This partnership is just a testament to the growth of the community overall,” says Launchpad Managing Director Sam Teller. “General Assembly has shown in city after city that they’re the best at what they do, and as a result, their programming sells out left and right.”

Launchpad, the longest running accelerator on the city’s Westside – second only to Bill Gross’ Idealab Pasadena technology studio – was founded in 2009 by entrepreneur-turned-VC-blogger Mark Suster as a mentorship organization. Given these roots in supporting the LA ecosystem and the more recent addition of an accelerator program, the partnership between these organizations makes perfect sense.

General Assembly has recently expanded beyond New York to seven cities total, including San Francisco, London, Sydney, and now Los Angeles. In the last 18 months, it’s delivered education to more than 21,000 students globally, a claim that few out of the traditional university system can make.

The partners will host a three day kick-off event the weekend of October 12 through 14 consisting of workshops on entrepreneurial thinking, new user acquisition, and UX (user interface) design. Instructors include Michael Geer, Dan Murillo, Todd Lefelt, Chris Becker, Jaime Russell Levy, and Dan Maccarone. Regular programming, including evening workshops, one-day classes, and intensive 6 - 12 week courses will begin in late November.

Instructors for the regular programming have not been announced, but General Assembly and Launchpad plan to collectively recruit “industry leaders including innovators, professors, executives, and founders,” according to information the companies sent to PandoDaily. General Assembly will also have a yet-to-be-announced, full time city manager stationed in LA to run its operations in the new market.

In addition to instructor sourcing, Launchpad will contribute event promotion and physical space. The accelerator has room for classes of up to 50 people plus smaller spaces for more intimate events. Select Launchpad alumni are expected serve as instructors and current Launchpad entrepreneurs will receive discounted access to General Assembly education.

General Assembly also operates a hiring partner program, which will be extended to LA. The program connects graduates of its long-form intensive courses with employment opportunities. The system, which is employed by other entrepreneurial education companies, is generally a win for all parties involved, not the least of which are talent-constrained startup ecosystems.

Teller was clear to state that Launchpad is not getting into the education business for financial reasons. Rather, it sees this as a way to further the Los Angeles startup ecosystem and to strategically position its accelerator program. Further, neither Launchpad nor General Assembly are presently planning to enter the coworking market in LA.

Discussions of bringing General Assembly to LA came out of personal relationships Teller has with its founders, which he says formed through mutual friends, a brief period working out of GA’s NYC coworking space, and investments that his Charlie investment fund made into GA alumni companies.

The Launchpad, General Assembly partnership won’t be the first entrepreneurial education game in town. Community anchor coworking space CoLoft recently announced its own Academy, which offers regular 90 minute courses on single topics related to entrepreneurship and technology.

Recently launched coworking and event space CrossCampus, which can accommodate up to 500 people as proven by PandoDaily’s Elon Musk fireside chat, offers a similar calendar of events comprised of its own offerings and those of outside organizations. Additionally, LA entrepreneurship elder statesman and DocStoc founder and CEO Jason Nazar hosts a monthly Startup Uncensored event series that features elite speakers from throughout the startup ecosystem.

What will set General Assembly apart is the depth of its educational offerings and its global track record as a leader in the space.

“I really find it exciting that beyond one-off classes, they offer really meaningful intensive courses where you come out with real concrete skills that you can apply to starting a business,” Teller says, summing up my exact feelings when I heard the news.

[Image source, Flickr]