The San Diego Venture Group is announcing a change in command.
Mike Krenn, a veteran San Diego marketing and business development executive, is succeeding Dave Titus as president of the nonprofit business organization, which has worked in recent years to inject new energy to the startup ecosystem in San Diego.
Krenn has worked for various law firms in San Diego. He was most recently at Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves, & Savitch, overseeing initiatives that included managing LaunchPad, an in-house program to help startup teams prepare to raise investment capital. He begins his new job today—just in time for the venture group’s annual summer social beer bash, set for this afternoon at the Scripps Seaside Forum in La Jolla.
With about 800 individual and corporate members, the venture group says its primary mission is fostering relationships and ideas to form, fund, and build new ventures. Titus, who was a co-founder of San Diego’s Windward Ventures, became the venture group’s first full-time president in 2011, and has been mostly focused on growing and supporting the local community of tech startups, which has been ailing.
There are typically more venture investments in life sciences startups than in tech startups in San Diego each quarter. The density of life sciences companies based here is also greater; there are more biotech innovators, entrepreneurs, and investors working through the startup cycle of founding, growing, and selling their companies.
Under Titus, the venture group’s annual venture summit has become a showcase for local “Cool Companies.” The group also has worked to increase venture investing in San Diego by bringing out-of-town venture firms like Arizona’s Grayhawk Capital, Oakland, CA-based Claremont Creek Ventures, and Philadelphia’s Susquehana Growth Equity to meet local tech entrepreneurs through a new “Venture Link” program.
Before 2011, the venture group’s principal activity was hosting monthly breakfast meetings that featured talks by VCs, consultants, and others. While the venture group continues to hold 11 breakfast meetings a year, Titus said he’s added new members to the venture group’s volunteer board, which has worked to recruit better speakers and develop better topics for the monthly meetings.
“They’re not just a list of names,” said Titus, who is leaving the venture group to take on a business development role at the Cooley law firm in San Diego. With more sponsors and increased attendance, he said the venture group’s operating budget has grown by more than 30 percent over the last two to three years.
Krenn said he wants to broaden the venture group’s activities to make them more inclusive for non-sponsors, and to reach out to more Silicon Valley venture firms.
While Krenn was with the San Diego office of DLA Piper, he founded a subsidiary business called Venture Pipeline that also helped early stage technology companies raise venture capital. As a marketing director for the Cooley law firm in the 1990s, Krenn helped found the San Diego Band of Angels, which later became part of the Tech Coast Angels, and the San Diego Telecom Council, now known as CommNexus.
Krenn was the initial energy behind the telecom council, and played a crucial role in its formation, said Marco Thompson, who was one of the nonprofit group’s first leaders. “Before we had a president, I think Mike played the role of ‘Volunteer Executive Director’—so, as I recall events, he was our first leader,” Thompson wrote in an email yesterday.
Krenn “knows the angel/VC process and has one of the best Rolodex’s in town, and I am sure he will do a good job,” Vern Yates, a longtime San Diego angel investor, wrote in an email.
“It is fair to say he was a founding member of the predecessor (San Diego Band of Angels) to the San Diego Tech Coast Angels,” wrote Yates, who was among a dozen people who could be listed as co-founders.
“After we started the San Diego Band of Angels in 1997, Mike volunteered to help with the logistics (dinners, email, program),” Yates added. “He was working for Cooley at the time and this tied in with his job there.
“Mike was not an investor but was very active in helping us and I know we would have had a much more difficult time without him. He and I worked very closely until we combined with the group in Orange County under the Tech Coast Angel umbrella.”
In a statement this morning, Bob Holmen, chairman of the SDVG Board of Directors says Krenn is “the right person to continue expanding our impact in fostering the region’s innovation economy, and we’re excited at bringing him aboard as our President.”
Krenn said he has counseled hundreds of technology companies through the years on various aspects of their business plans, including management issues, market development, strategic partnerships, and financing strategies.
“It’s important in our community to have someone building up this ecosystem, and we’re truly fortunate to have Mike step into this role,” Titus said.