THE BLOG

There's a Tech Thunder Roaring Through Los Angeles

03/24/2015 03:25 am ET | Updated May 23, 2015

Silicon Valley remains, and will remain the mecca for all things tech. When it comes to product development, iteration, user acquisition, and team building, once you've become part of the eco-system and learned the tricks of the trade, building the business and connecting with money becomes much, much easier. Outsiders with an idea struggle to build both the product and team for the Angels and VCs in Silicon Valley, as well as deepen relationships and connections with those who hold the money.

Los Angeles, on the other hand, has rich resources in entertainment. Talent, power, fame, wealth, all fused into a very vibrant city, who admit to knowing very little about tech. Given that these Angels know so little about what makes a tech company successful, many shy away from putting their investment dollars into a new category. There's a an opportunity for tech and entertainment to fuse to create something bigger, and LA has not capitalized on that unique challenge.

Tech has many facets that could infuse the entertainment industry taking interestings ideas from Seed to rapid growth stage. User acqusition alone could use the help of celebrities, and it hasn't been harnessed powerfully quite yet. Kate Upton's Game of War campaign has probably been the most successful thus far in putting a celebrity face to a mobile game. Kim Kardashian has her own game, however this is just another marketing tool to build her own brand. William Shatner famously took equity rather than cash for Priceline - and made a fortune. Although actors like Ashton Kutcher and Justin Bieber have invested in tech, we have yet to see celebrities as part of a first time user experience, infused in leveraging their power in more ubiquitous ways.

Soloprenur: LA #Startup scene is getting interesting! -> The Real LA Story Is Its Hot Tech Startups http://t.co/Dqk5no6bG5

— LEADRS (@LEADRSDO) February 13, 2015

Tolga Onuk, CEO and Founder of Thunderbolt Studios, seeks to take on the challenge of finding Angels and celebrities in LA that are interested in investing in tech, and privately matchmaking them with curated opportunities, who have been mentored and have a higher success probability. He developed Thunderbolt Engine, a private platform that connects investors and influencers to emerging new technologies and digital startups.This platform and all of the digital application based startups are exclusively designed and developed by LA's digital design and technology development powerhouse - Thunderbolt Studios in Beverly Hills, California.

"Would I move up north if I had a fantastic job offer from one of the big tech corps in an executive position? No. I feel it very deeply that the entertainment & tech merger is happening right now, at this moment in LA and I am gonna be a part of that transition. We wanna contribute to this transition. This is huge." Tolga explains. Tolga has worked with enterprises such as Beats by Dre and Alaska Airlines, designing their mobile apps. But he's also worked with start-ups, his true passion, and helped found and design Curbstand, the up and coming cashless valet service app. He sincerely believes that LA is on the verge of pushing tech to new levels, especially since recent breakout tech stars like Tinder and Snapchat have a home in LA.

A photo posted by Thunderbolt Studios (@thunderboltstudios) on


In order to attract new companies, he's launching "Thunderstruck" Startup Competition running from March 11th through May 8th to attract new startup ideas looking for funding and support. The top 10 startups, as voted by their peers will pitch to a panel of industry judges to evaluate them.

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The panel will choose the top three, which will share in $250k in support to get their ideas to the next level. If you're interested in participating here are some important dates and deadlines:

  • March 30th - Startup Event at Expert Dojo in Santa Monica
  • April 20th -Deadline to submit ideas for startups
  • April 24 - Top 10 Startups Announced
  • May 7th - Private Pitch of the 10 finalists at Startup Dojo in Santa Monica
  • May 8th - Determination of 3 finalists