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RentFoodBroke - BrokeLa.com

Developed by: Hanina Stettin, Shani Rotkovitz, and Hillel Smith
Have a question? Want to see the full business plan? Request Info.



As of December 2011, the Los Angeles County jobless rate was 11.9%. That number doesn’t even begin to take into account the number of people working and still not making quite enough to adequately support themselves. According to the LA Times, the real number of un- or underemployed people in the U.S. is a stunning 26.9 million. (November 2011). These people are our friends, our neighbors, ourselves. Being un- or under-employed means having less money to spend on things like doctor’s visits and socializing with friends, both of which are critical for overall health. With less money in our pockets, we can’t afford to hole up and isolate ourselves.

We live in a city with tremendous invaluable resources. It’s a city filled with people putting together events and programs that are affordable, whatever your budget. Especially in difficult times like these, we can’t afford to overlook all our local resources. However, despite the number of opportunities and cheap events in LA, there are not many ways to find them easily. RentFoodBroke/BrokeLA.com is the access point.

RentFoodBroke is dedicated to helping people live a high quality life even with limited finances. There are two parts to the site. The first is the BrokeLA.com calendar, exclusively featuring $10 and under events around LA, including concerts, screenings, festivals, and seminars. The second part is a blog updated twice weekly with information and advice about everything from finding medical care to throwing an affordable cocktail party.

We accomplish our mission by educating people about resources and affordable events; teaming up with like-minded organizations to promote their events; building a community calendar; doing give-aways; providing opportunities for people to get involved with local service organizations.

BrokeLA.com is the ultimate guide to living life in Los Angeles. Thousands of people visit the site, which has been live for over two years. Eventually, RentFoodBroke will expand to other major cities around the world. As such, we will build and maintain an online resource for events and information, and build value through community involvement. We will do so by finding and utilizing a support base of people, money, and legal advisors to maintain our quality and up-to-date resources in an attractive format. We will connect to readers and “creators” via social media and attendance, and attract press attention. By building our web-presence, increasing readership, generating revenue (enough to support the company’s development and ourselves as individuals), attracting coverage, and maintaining a stream of content, we will be able to expand to other major locales and help improve access to a world filled with affordable possibilities.

Personal Story

It started as a joke. We were drinking wine on the couch, grumbling about the recession. It was more than slight discontent though. We’d done it all right--gone to college, worked steadily at our jobs, and even volunteered our time. But suddenly, in this new post-Wall-Street-collapse economy, we were all barely scraping by. We were convinced that LA had affordable services and events, but we needed an access point. We wanted an online gateway to our available, but hard to find, resources. Compelled by the idea, we pulled out a laptop and a credit card and started checking viable names. After a half hour of misses, we bought RentFoodBroke.com. In the room was a web developer, a graphic designer, a financial manager, and a writer. RentFoodbroke was born very late that night, and now, over two years later, we are still discovering how to help people, just like us, live a full life at every budget level.

We pour hours into developing RentFoodBroke/BrokeLA.com. Weekends and midnights find us at our computers and at promoted events. And recently, it started happening: when I mention the website to people, they’ve already heard of it. But before that, it was the wry chuckle that kept us going. So many people gave that little laugh because they recognized themselves in our project. We want to provide that outlet and that little extra boost for days when it feels lonely to be worrying about money--again. We see ourselves as a community resource; we want to build and support and enjoy our world.

RentFoodBroke has been a story of adjacent opportunities: meeting people, finding common ground, and working together. For us, success opens many adjacent opportunities. We will be able to support ourselves financially through site revenue and have a vehicle to help others do so as well (ie paying staff writers and developing interns). Success will be a chance to acknowledge the faith and repay some of the help given us by our families and friends. Additionally, we will be able to create a company that embodies our values. Externally, our company will be the ultimate resource for the many aspects of life-basic care, personal development, and social interactions- in Los Angeles initially and then in most major cities. We will empower ourselves and our extended community through our work.

Personal Statement of Entrepreneurs

RentFoodBroke is comprised of three partners, rotating interns, occasional contributors, and many readers. The three partners are Shani Rotkovitz (Word Bum), Hillel Smith (Design Bum), and Hanina Stettin (Head Bum).

Shani is a East Coast transplant who was lured to LA by a love of film. After finishing her Masters at AFI and hopping around different Hollywood projects, she returned to AFI to help students realize their dreams of making films and teaching them how to be nice in the process as the financial manager for student projects. She is also a talented photographer. She handles the calendar, advertisements, and all around finance type stuff for RentFoodBroke.

Hillel Smith is a graphic designer, Ivy grad, and LA native. After quitting a well-paying but non-fulfilling job, and then spending three months traveling the world, he was convinced he’d easily find a new job. Meanwhile, the recession hit just as his travels began and he returned to LA to face a nonexistent job market. Three years later, he’s comfortable and stable as a freelance designer, creating materials for a range of non-profit, small business, and corporate clients. And of course, RentFoodBroke, for which he handles the design, social media, and web duties. While no longer constantly paranoid about not making rent, he remains mindful of expenses and still relishes free concerts, street fairs, and farmers’ markets.

Hanina is a LA native and jack of many trades. A long-time non-profit professional, she is also a writer and event coordinator. She now studies organization development, which focuses on creating work structures that build capacity and support humanity. As a grad student, she relies on the BrokeLA calendar to provide her with affordable options for fun; she also writes articles directly related to whatever life is throwing at her and her friends. Hanina is responsible for the written content and general management of RentFoodBroke.




E4C focuses on three primary populations of entrepreneurs: Veterans, Green and Social Businesses, and those who find themselves operating within marginalized communities.

If you are interested and can find a way to contribute to their success, we would love for you to contact us directly and we will connect you to them.

These are an amazing group of dedicated and hardworking entrepreneurs, and we think each and every one of them is certain to succeed, especially with your help.

Hanina Stettin


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