037: From a Youth Mentor to Business Leader with Miki Reynolds
Miki Reynolds is the executive director of Grid110, a company she co-founded in 2014. They're a community in economic development non-profit, which is in partnership with the Mayor’s office. The company mainly focuses on activating and supporting the start-up ecosystem in Downtown, Los Angeles by providing access to free space, mentoring, and resources to early stage entrepreneurs and startup teams.
JOURNEY TO BECOMING AN EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Miki had lost her job and was trying to figure out how to connect to a community or meet people who would later on hook her up with her next gig but she really struggled to find anything.
Finally, she was able to connect to a group of 6 people and it’s here that they had the bright idea of how they could enable startups to want to move, grow and thrive in Downtown, LA. They had a common interest of helping building and supporting the community in the area because they felt that most of the start-up and tech activities centered around the west-side. This is how Grid110 was born.
Everyone in the team volunteered for the first 2 years as it was just a side gig. Three years later, they were able to garner a lot of press interest but there wasn't anyone who really steered the ship in terms of long term strategy and making it a legitimate business. This prompted them to look for funding and they were able to properly staff the organization. It's at this time that the board appointed Miki to become the executive director.
Miki had always done things where leadership was involved but had never thought she was going to be a CEO or a Founder. Her jobs always required her to be a “badass right-hand person” who always gave ideas on how to accomplish and achieve visions. This executive director role is the first where she is required to make life changing decisions.
She was able to gain confidence to do this by overcoming her fears and self-doubt. For her, it took an accumulation of experience and responsibility to get to be this kind of a person because she believes she is an introvert. Also knowing failure is inevitable has played a huge role in helping her succeed.
When the software development company she was working for shut down, she was devastated and didn’t know what the next step would be. All she knew was she was unhappy with what she was doing. She took that time to explore around, take in new experiences, try new things, and get out of her comfort zone. During this time, she met new people who have become and stayed her friends.
She advises people to go out and explore even if it is by looking at job descriptions, or just talking to people. “You don't know what you don't know, so try new things.”
CREATING BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS
For Miki, she’s always felt comfortable in the digital world because of her introvert personality and shyness. She was introduced to the digital world at 13 and has been obsessed ever since. Being and Introvert and shy, The digital world has enabled her to reach out to a lot of influential people for partnerships, speaking engagements, and sponsorships. Social Networking has become a great way for her to create relationships and opportunities as it feels very safe to her.
They launched a program that is geared more toward idea stage entrepreneurs where they teach the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. They developed a 6-week program called Idea to Prototype which is an organized class one night a week. It also has a supplemental programming added. The program includes answers to questions like, what’s the problem you're trying to solve? How is your product the solution for that? What is your value proposition? How do you pitch? What are the different potential funding paths that you want to go down to? This will be run 5 times this year and the goal is to scale the number of entrepreneurs and teams that they work with.