Local Startups on a Mission

April 25, 2014 0 comments

A group of entrepreneurs got together yesterday to discuss how they can help San Diego startups grow into strong companies. Some of the groups that I have been a part of in the past never came up with these simple tasks to help each other out.

This type of leadership is about building a community that benefits everyone instead of just trying to help yourself.

One of the leaders of the group Yashar states:

” Our mission is to help one another elevate, get traction, connections, and being a source for potential partnerships.”

Here are some of the amazing things the group has already done

  • Built a website called LocalStartups.co that will allow startups and entrepreneurs in San Diego to be able to highlight their product and allow users to try it. The site will also be a map of where the startups are located
  • Decided that this is a website & group that will be inclusive of all in the startup community, including young startups, established startups, investors and anyone who want to help grow this community
  • Established a twitter handle @localstartups as well as a code to follow and retweet all member of the group
  • Established an identifier that will be worn during startup week and around town to identify all startups or people involved in helping the startup community grow
  • The group will use as many of the local startups technology as possible. The site will be on the Zesty platform, meetings will be organized by CrowdClock, podcast will be using some sort of audio technology by Zambig and logos are being created with Brandisty‘s brand storage and distribution.

As you can see the idea of this group is startup community building, collaboration (like they do in Silicon Valley) and idea sharing. It’s a team of entrepreneurs who are deciding to lead by example and build this startup community of creative individuals who can help build a vibrant ecosystem.

It is inclusive to all who want to join.

Sign your startup here localstartups.co and join the community.

Join the conversation @BlairsReport @Localstartups @TrinsicLabs or blair@zambig.com

Plug and Play gives a $25,000 investment

The Difference Between Incubators and Accelerators

April 19, 2014 0 comments

The Difference Between Incubators and Accelerators

Starting a business is hard. Very hard.

Deciding to utilize an accelerator or incubator program can be a make-or-break moment in that process. At least 16 local incubators and accelerators took part in an event hosted by San Diego Venture Group last month. AngelList, Silicon Valley’s website for startups and investors, lists over 60 incubators and accelerators. The choices can be overwhelming.

Blair-GiesenIncubators provide guidance and advice to help startups grow and succeed in an unstructured program, with no specific goal or timeframe.

Accelerators provides structured curriculum in a short period to help rapidly grow the size and value of a company to get ready for a specific goal, typically to raise financing.

Both can help young companies figure out how to get through some of the early difficulties of starting a business. Both help create successful companies on a scale that has never been done before.

But one important question can help guide entrepreneurs who aren’t sure which path is right: What is the goal of the program? Once you’ve established that, compare it to your own company’s goals and see whether they align.

Either type of program can include some big benefits to a startup, including:

• Free office space

• Formal curriculum

• Mentor program

• Financing

• Links to strategic partners

• Marketing assistance

• Advisory boards

• Management team identification

• Access to angel investors and venture capital

• Help with presentation skills

• Networking events

Key Differences

The key difference between and incubator and an accelerator is what happens at the end of the process and what you and your company walk away with.

Typically incubators have a process of getting into the program, but that process is often unclear. Incubators help you build a company. Incubators take little or no equity in your company. Incubators are great if your goal is the get some help and retain control of your business or get prepared to go into a more competitive accelerator program. Incubators provide these services to a group of companies with no specific goals for every startup.

Accelerators prepare you for a major milestone – usually the ability to fundraise and attract a large investment round. Accelerators take anywhere from 3 percent to 8 percent or more of your company equity. The goal is to scale you fast and rapidly increase the value of your company. Scale is a characteristic of a business that describes its capability to grow as clients and customers grow while increasing its level of performance or efficiency.

There are many arguments for and against giving up equity but most of them can be boiled down to one question, Neil Senturia said at a San Diego Venture Group event for incubators and accelerators last month: “Do you want to be king or rich?” – basically, do you care more about control, or about growing the business quickly to increase its value? This is a question that all entrepreneurs need to ask themselves early in the process.

Accelerators typically have a more rigid process that governs how a company gets accepted into the program. Once accepted, a company goes through a very specific program to gain market traction and start an investor funding campaign.

Here are two examples of local accelerators:

Founder Institute: An after-hours, before-you-quit-your-day-job program that provides a structured curriculum. It’s a step-by-step process with experts to get you started. Founder Institute offers no investment in the startups that go through the program.

(Full disclosure: I went through this program, and thought it was amazing.)

Plug and Play San Diego: One of the most successful accelerator programs in the Bay Area now has a branch in San Diego. It offers local entrepreneurs an opportunity to pitch their startups, get an investment on the spot and enter the program. After the startup is in the accelerator program, startup founders are introduced to a wide range of strategic partners in a hands-on, structured program.

And here are two local incubators:

EvoNexus: This one’s centered on web or mobile technology. EvoNexus provides free office space and other benefits in an unstructured, a la carte way – startups can use various services if they want to. All EvoNexus incubator services are free to startups in the program.

CyberHive’s iHive: iHive is all about The Internet of Things (the connected technologies around home, wearables and auto in a structure connected to the internet). iHive provides a combination of co-working space and incubation services.  Visit iHive’s startup, music and art event SAM Fest to learn more.

Better Together

Yes, it’s important to seek out an incubator or accelerator that syncs up with your company’s goals. But there’s a wrench: Many startups go through more than one of these programs.

Why would they do this? Because most programs are not designed to create absolute success. Startups need to take advantage of every opportunity they can.

Startups must also remember that many of these programs have sponsors and are structured in a way that might not be entirely focused on the success of the startups in the program. As the founder it’s up to you to make the right decisions to guide your company. No one knows your business like you.

A more complete list of various programs can be found here.

I want to hear your stories of success and growth, frustration and failure with incubators and accelerators.



San Diego Starts To Flex Its Cross-Border Muscles

April 14, 2014 0 comments

San Diego Starts To Flex Its Cross-Border Muscles

San Diego is perfect for manufacturing wearable technology. However, due to its proximity to Mexico, a new accelerator is betting big that it is the perfect place for building wearable technology.

Hard Tech Labs (HTL) has put together a bold plan to bring together a world class design, prototyping and building center in San Diego. HTL is combining the San Diego and Baja regions to form a partnership that cannot be done anywhere else in the world.

With the ability to share talent and resources from both San Diego and Tijuana, HTL is creating a place where hard goods with technology can be built in a very short time and inexpensive cost.

Forget China

With HTL, hard goods manufacturers can now go to Mexico to build things much faster than going all the way to China – and for a much lower cost. This is especially advantageous when doing prototyping at HTL; a production run can then happen immediately right across the boarder.

Hard Tech Labs will be like no other accelerator. According to PandoDaily, HTL is currently in the process of raising $20 million and will fund projects up to $150,000 when the enter the accelerator, with up to $350,000 when they exit.

Additionally, Hard Tech Labs will offer much of the machinery needed to design, test, develop and build hard technology products. They also have partnerships with Mexican Maquiladoras (large manufacturing sites) to get the products built.

San Diego is already home to hard tech groups and incubators such as FabLab San Diego and MakerPlace where there are 3D Printers, fabricators, CNC cutting, laser cutters and so much more.

Hard Tech Labs will be able to help entrepreneurs in wearable products such as fitness, jewelry, robotics and drones to name a few categories.  HTL will be offering a comprehensive 6 month to 1 year program with a developed curriculum and extensive mentoring program. They plan to also help to facilitate valuable partnerships with not only manufacturers to get products built but with established brands to get you product launched and cash flowing.

The initial class is targeting wearable technology, drone manufacturers, medical devises and customizable attire. Think you have a product or idea that fits one of these? Email Hard Tech Labs to apply.

Blair Giesen is a Voice of San Diego tech contributor, serial entrepreneur and micro-podcast founder. Join the conversation @BlairsReport BlairGiesen.com or blair@zambig.com

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