Faces of Silicon Beach
Kevin Winston, founder, DigitalLA, the largest and most established tech, media and entertainment event and networking group in Los Angeles.
Erik: What made you want to be an entrepreneur?
Kevin: Throughout college and graduate school I was always starting organizations or clubs. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I was my high school newspaper editor … and I was on the student council at Yale. You get positive reinforcement doing entrepreneurial things. So I always like starting things and seeing what happens, which is something that an entrepreneur has to do, just go with a risky idea or with something that’s not quite proven assurance, to see what happens. That’s what I did.
Erik: Tell me about your company DigitalLA
Kevin: I started DigitalLA when I was working at MySpace because there wasn’t a networking group in L.A. for people who were in digital, entertainment, and startups so I decided to start one. The first event was me and 10 friends at Ma’kai in Santa Monica and people had a good time. Then we decided to host another event the next month and like 150 people showed up to that. By the end of the first year I built a group of 5,000 people on Facebook. This was five years ago. Five years later, I reach 50,000 people a week through my newsletter and social media, doing weekly panels and mixers and other events.
Erik: So aside from being a huge networking group, what makes DigitalLA cool and unique?
Kevin: The thing that people tell me is that they really like the fact that the people that they meet at the events are good quality people. Everyone is rocking it somehow in digital and they are friendly and they want to meet other people and share.
Erik: Do you have any advice, tips, tricks, to someone that wants to start their own company?
Kevin: The biggest thing for an entrepreneur is to actually just go do it. A lot of people think about it and they just have an idea, but they just don’t go out and do it. So just go out and do it.
Erik: How is your company changing the world?
Kevin: DigitalLA is making an impact on the world by bringing people together in the tech, entertainment start-up scene to give them resources to make companies succeed so they can help change the world.
Erik: Why did you choose to locate in Santa Monica?
Kevin: I chose to locate in Santa Monica because I knew that’s where the center of the tech scene was.
Erik: Being one of the first people in the Silicon Beach scene, what do you think of what it has actually become?
Kevin: It’s grown a lot within the past five years, even in the past two. Two years ago the accelerators came to be and they happened to locate in Santa Monica and Venice. There is Launchpad, there is Science, and ROC, and Cross Campus, which is huge. These accelerators and these co-working spaces and venture capitalists have blossomed in Santa Monica, which is another reason why I did the first several DigitalLA events there and I still do Digital LA events there all the time.
Erik: What’s one last thing you would like to say to the people of Santa Monica?
Kevin: Come out and support Silicon Beach Fest June 18-21 in Santa Monica.
Erik Huberman is CEO of Hawke Media, a Santa Monica-based digital marketing and e-commerce agency.