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

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one-on-one presentations, and we hold a full attendee and VC roundtable session on financing models and strategies,” Panetta says. Biocom also has been working to extend the concept to its annual pharmaceutical partnering conference. The recent CalBio conference, which drew 1,000 attendees to San Francisco, also involved sessions on partnering and financing that included San Diego companies, as well as VCs, biotechs, and pharmas in the Bay Area.

Connect has been working more broadly on several initiatives to attract more startup capital to San Diego, but its first excursion up north actually occurred somewhat by chance, Saltman says. “We talked last year about opening a Connect office in the Bay Area, and building relationships with VCs up there,” Saltman says. When that idea was shelved, “We were going to do a webcast, but the [San Diego] companies said if you have a roomful of VCs we want to present to them in person.”

The nonprofit group also recruited a number of prominent out-of-town venture investors to its upcoming “Rock Stars of Innovation Summit,” such as Juan Enriquez, the chairman and CEO of Boston-based Biotechnonomy and  one of the world’s leading authorities on the economic and political impacts of life sciences. Connect also has been working with the San Diego Venture Group to include more presentations by local companies at its annual venture summit this summer. Connect also has been advocating changes on a variety of policy issues, such as SEC regulatory reform, and changes in corporate accounting and taxation rules.

The nonprofit group says its next roadshow consists of six Internet startups, which were culled from nearly 90 companies that applied through Connect’s venture roundtable program. Connect staffers forwarded 10 business plans from the pool to a panel of volunteer judges, who selected six finalists after hearing presentations from all 10. The six Internet startups—Antengo, Barc, iTel Companies, LiquidGrids, ShowUhow, and SwoopThat, will make their presentations in the San Francisco office of the Allen Matkins law firm on March 22.

Connect plans to make similar venture roundtable excursions to venture firms in Boston.

The nonprofit’s venture roundtable program is organized to focus on a different sector every few months. Saltman says the screening process is already underway for the next round, which is focusing on San Diego startups developing wireless technologies focused on mobile health, productivity tools, and the connected home.

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  • 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?

  • 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.