Welcome to Live Work Oakland

Live Work Oakland is your go-to resource about the growing local innovation economy in Oakland, California.

Live Work Oakland is the home of the Oakland Tech Ecosystem map and database, offering a comprehensive list of tech-related entities in Oakland’s burgeoning and diverse tech community.

Live Work Oakland also features guides to getting started doing business in the Town, and profiles and articles about local innovators and leaders.

Live Work Oakland was created by Oakland Local with partnership support from The Kapor Center for Social Impact.

To add your business to our database, go here.
To sign up for our mailing list and to receive notifications of tech and investment events in Oakland, go here.

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    Oakland’s Enlisted Design changes the studio biz model

    “We’ve had many opportunities to leave Oakland, but we love Oakland. Every designer we have, with the exception of maybe one, lives in the East Bay. What we’re betting on and investing in is that Oakland is going to be the new design scene.” — Beau Oyler, Principal and Co-Founder of Enlisted Design

    Enlisted Design makes a bold statement upon entry into its office from the building’s narrow marble stairwell: an entryway opens onto an open, minimalist white room that spans the entire second floor. The room is furnished with long white work tables, flat-screen monitors, a beanbag chair in the corner, and a dog bed complete with dog (Peanut, the studio’s hostess). A bank of windows overlooks the heart of Uptown Oakland. In the space where one might expect senior managers’ offices, there is instead a ping pong table.

    The non-hierarchical nature of the office space is reflected in every aspect of Enlisted Design’s work. Billing itself as a design cooperative, Enlisted prides itself on its intensely collaborative relationship with its clients. (As a point of clarification, Enlisted is not worker-owned.) In speaking about their client relationship philosophy, Principal and Co-Founder Beau Oyler refers often to the “old model” of design work, in which there is a strict boundary between the client and design studio: Client sends in a scope of work, design studio sends back a proposal, client accepts, design studio creates a product or brand strategy in isolation and then presents it back to the client x amount of months later as a finished product.

    “I think that’s a broken model, and that’s a model that all of the large and established design studios use — and I know that because I used to be a lead designer at one of those design studios,” Oyler said. “They do amazing work, don’t get me wrong. The problem that I see [with that model] is this: Your team is brilliant, my team is brilliant. What if we broke those walls down and we work together and we co-create a product so that, in the end, it’s not MY product that I’m giving to you and it’s not YOUR product that you’ve demanded I make; we’ve co-created it together.”

    It’s a collaborative model that demands a greater level of client participation than in the traditional model, to be sure, but Oyler is proud of the successful and long-standing relationships they’ve built with their clients as a result. To date, the studio’s portfolio includes rebranding for AMES Tools and Merrick; industrial and product design for Netgear, Timbuk2, and Williams-Sonoma; and the studio’s most successful endeavor yet, a full strategy/product design/branding/packaging project that launched Urbio, the award-winning vertical indoor gardening and home organization product line.

    Ultimately, Oyler says, their work is about allowing ideas to rise to the top until, together with their partners, they reach what Oyler calls “the glorious poof” — the vista and clouds at the top of the long climb, the one sketch or idea that makes one’s mouth drop and shout, “Oh my gosh, that’s it!”

    Enlisted Design, in brief:

    FOUNDED: 2008
    LOCATION: Uptown Oakland
    OFFICE VIBE: Fun, happy, collaborative, transparent
    WHAT THEY DO, IN ONE SENTENCE: “We collaborate to co-create products that change people’s lives.” —Beau Oyler
    SERVICES OFFERED: Strategy and market research, branding, packaging, web design, product design and development


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    Oakland real estate market awash in cash

    Today’s overheated Bay Area real estate market is very different for buyers than the real estate bubble of the mid-2000s. “There have been a lot of all-cash deals,” says realtor Martha Hill of Pacific Union, noting that cash appeals to sellers who want to close the deal more quickly (escrow for an all-cash deal is usually about 14 days, as opposed to 21 days or more when a bank loan is involved). “This is new. I don’t remember it 10 years ago at all.”

    Real estate professionals don’t know where the glut of cash is coming from, but they agree that there is no single source. “During the downturn, all cash was relegated to investors and flippers,” says Hill. Now, she says, “I’ve seen everything.” Some people are taking money from their 401(k)s or borrowing from family members. Hill notes that “it seems like the lion’s share of the all-cash offers are at the high end of the market,” which she defines as sales over $1 million.

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    Oakland’s alternative incubators – analysis

    Business incubators could be a huge resource for creating the kind of local, sustainable, inclusive businesses that aim to promote the revitalization of Oakland as opposed to its gentrification.

    Unfortunately, the flaw of a catch-all term like “business incubator” is its tendency to obscure important differences among what-all is caught, leading to the misrepresentation of the misifts. As certain characteristics end up most commonly associated with the term, they are assumed to apply to all versions of “incubators.” So big names like Y-Combinator, Techstars and Kicklabs come to define the genre, instead of being defined by it.

    As a result, the terms “incubator” and “accelerator” are increasingly synonymous with tech-focused grooming factories that work by converting startups into roulette-like investment opportunities.

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    Closing the graduation gap: There’s an app for that at Oakland’s Mills College and UC Merced

    By Natalie Meier

    Brioxy, an interactive planning application aimed at meeting the needs of young people of color, is coming soon to a web browser near you.

    Brioxy founder B. Cole and her team of techies built the online tool to help their target audience create a road map to their dreams, complete with a to-do list that will allow users to manage their goals in an efficient, concrete fashion. Brioxy is currently in its beta-test phase online and is being piloted with accompanying success-oriented curriculum at Mills College in Oakland and at UC Merced.

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    Oakland startup Educents brings savings to educators

    It’s a sad truth that teachers dig into their own pockets to buy supplies for their classrooms, typically spending $500 a year.

    But what if they could spend $20 instead of $90 for, say, science curriculum game apps or $5 instead of $10 for math flash cards?

    And what if small publishers and software developers could get their educational products viewed by thousands of teachers and parents?

    That is the business proposition that Oakland businesswomen Kate Whiting and Kaitlyn Trabucco took on in founding Educents.

    Their Oakland startup is an online marketplace for sellers of education software and books to meet teachers, parents and school officials eager to buy such products. It was operating in pilot mode until last week, when it launched its portal publicly.

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    Marketing Insights: Target Ruthlessly to Succeed

    By Dan Cohen, Founder and Principal of Full Court Press Communications 

    It seems so counterintuitive, but to succeed as a marketer of ideas, products or services, I would argue that you have to decide first of all the people you DON’T want to reach. You are more likely to succeed when you throw around words like “ruthless,” “narrow,” and “relentless” to describe the targeting or winnowing you have done.

    In most organizations resources for marketing and communications are scarce. But scarcity requires discipline.

    Entrepreneurs and advocates always say “our services can help everybody,” or “who wouldn’t want to eat at our restaurant,” or “our product is perfect for everyone.” But we counsel the opposite.

    Shrink your target to the smallest, most detailed target market or “niche” and then surround that audience everywhere they turn with your messaging. And the good news is that with the array of marketing tools available to all of us…it’s easier than ever.

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