Plug and Play Admits 8 San Diego Companies to Startup Camp

Eight seed-stage tech companies were selected late yesterday to be the first class of startups from San Diego to be admitted to the 10-week business technology accelerator program established by Silicon Valley’s Plug and Play Tech Center.

Every company admitted to the Plug and Play Startup Camp is eligible to get a $25,000 investment as part of the initiative, which was organized late last year by San Diego’s StartupCircle and Alex Roudi, a San Diego real estate investor.

The Plug and Play Tech Center, which Xconomy’s Wade Roush profiled in December, has been considering an expansion in San Diego for several years. Saeed Amidi, the founder and CEO, says he came close to acquiring a building here several years ago to serve as a tech incubator for Southern California. More recently, though, Plug and Play has simply expanded its recruiting efforts beyond Northern California, offering startup capital, business mentoring, and exposure to Silicon Valley VCs to startups willing to participate in its program. Amidi told me yesterday he had recently returned from a recruiting trip that included Berlin and Switzerland.

The inaugural San Diego Startup Camp will begin with once-a-week business mentoring sessions in San Diego, followed by a 10-week program at the Plug and Play headquarters in Sunnyvale, CA. The camp culminates with a “Demo Day” that enables startups enrolled in the program to pitch their businesses to scores of venture capitalists.

More than 70 companies applied for the program, and 16 finalists were selected to make 3-minute presentations yesterday, according to Startup Circle’s Gabriela Dow. She confided that organizers were unsure whether any San Diego companies would be selected for the program. The eight winners were chosen by a panel of judges that included Plug and Play’s Amidi; Roudi, the chairman and CEO of Interwest Capital; Liz Gasser of Qualcomm Labs; and Lada Rasochova, director of entrepreneurship programs at the UC San Diego Rady School of Management.

In the end, however, the most telling sign of San Diego’s showing in the final selection came from Plug and Play’s Amidi, who told me he had started the day with the intent of funding five companies, but added, “we really couldn’t say ‘no’ to three other companies.”

Since the program began in early 2006, the Plug and Play Tech Center has enrolled 160 portfolio companies that have raised a total of $1.6 billion, according to Alireza Masrour, managing partner of Plug and Play Ventures. “We look for more technology-based companies,” Masrour says. “Most of the investments I am making are based on technology and a rock star team.”

The companies admitted to the program are:

Rock My World, co-founded by Adam Riggs-Zeigen, is a Web-based startup that streams workout music for active people. The first service launched on the platform is RockMyRun, which helps runners become more motivated and more energized, and to perform better during running workouts and races.

VIOOZ, founded by David Hammel, is an online search engine that provides users with accurate and updated location-based information about their searches.

Tip Network, founded by Greg Crisci, provides cloud-based support to help restaurants track, manage, and distribute tips digitally to employees.

Santech, led by CEO John Fessler, integrates scientific research, behavioral science, and other disciplines with mobile and Web technologies and uses mobile messaging applications to improve chronic care management and patient adherence and compliance.

Pcsso, founded by Kris Woodbeck, is an application programming interface (API) that is based on image search. It is intended to help users browse for products based on their appearance instead of metadata. The API is suitable for a wide variety of product types, from fashion to electronics.

DrivAd, founded by Olivier Baudoux, is an advertising technology startup that enrolls motorists to promote companies for rewards, using statistical models and analytics to pair drivers with optimal advertising campaigns.

Portable Genomics, founded by Patrick Merel, is developing software for comprehensive visualization of personal genomic data. The company is creating a way to condense an individual’s genomic data into a simple iTunes format, and enabling patients to give doctors a visual readout of their genetic condition and list the diseases they would be most at risk for.

eFinancial Communications, founded by Sandeep Shah, is a technology platform that integrates social media and makes customer interaction unique and targeted for their particular demographic profile.

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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