In Search of Capital, San Diego Taking Startups on Roadshows to VCs

3/14/12Follow @bvbigelow

Venture capital and rainfall have always been in relatively short supply in San Diego. Yet somehow this semi-arid region has managed to grow and even thrive as a center of life sciences, technology, and cleantech innovation.

Now, as part of a broader strategic initiative, some of the nonprofit organizations that helped establish San Diego as an oasis of innovation are going to Northern California and Boston in search of new sources of venture funding. Next week, for example, half a dozen local Internet startups will trek to San Francisco to make presentations to Bay Area venture investors as part of a roadshow organized by Connect, the prominent nonprofit promoter of San Diego technology and entrepreneurship.

At CommNexus, another nonprofit industry group representing San Diego technology companies, CEO Rory Moore says he’s been making trips to Silicon Valley to present on behalf of all the startups enrolled in the group’s EvoNexus incubator. There are 22 startups now enrolled in the free incubator, which CommNexus created with financial contributions from scores of San Diego technology companies.

Kevin Hell, the former DivX CEO now overseeing the EvoNexus incubator, also has been making trips. “We’re presenting all of our companies,” Moore says. We go one right after the other, and get feedback in real time.” Moore likes to add that their efforts have been so effective that EvoNexus companies have raised a total of $55 million in venture, corporate, and angel investments since CommNexus created the incubator in 2009.

“One of the issues that San Diego companies face in terms of getting venture capital is that there’s significantly less venture capital here than in other parts of the country, particularly in Silicon Valley and New England,” says Peter Shaw, a Connect board member, veteran CEO, and former partner at Windward Ventures, an inactive San Diego VC firm. Shaw recently volunteered to oversee Connect’s Venture Roundtable, a longtime program that screens local startups, choosing a handful that are “investment ready” to make presentations to venture investors.

Even when the times were good, Shaw says … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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  • http://www.ai-one.com Tom Marsh

    It’s been this way for as long as I’ve been in San Diego, better now than before thanks to CONNECT, CommNexus and others but still an embarrassment nationally.

    It’s not that we are a backwater without a local pool of high net worth individuals. How does that work? Do the VC’s from Palo Alto fly down here to raise money? Maybe Xconomy could look into how much venture and angel capital is sourced here and deployed elsewhere.

    Crowdfunding to the rescue?

  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/bbigelow/ Bruce V. Bigelow

    Tom, this is the $64 million question isn’t it?

    My impression is that San Diego’s angels are numerous but they would prefer not to be known — maybe they don’t want to get insistent entrepreneurs calling them at 2 am? Yet San Diego’s angels really do represent an important part of the solution, so maybe the question is really a matter of understanding who they are and how they operate.

    A slightly different aspect of the problem is that startup CEOs, and San Diego’s Internet startups in particular, are yearning for true mentors.