As a B2B/enterprise tech professional and investor, I am always eager to dive into the startup community I discover myself in. And, with that in mind, I’ve found it useful to create ecosystem guides for the cities I’ve lived in (Madrid/New York City). The feedback I get is that people find them “incredibly resourceful.” So, now that I’ve moved to San Diego (SD), I’m working on a new post.
I’m the most excited about this guide because SD is one of America’s best cities for startups and, in general, my favorite place in the whole world. San Diego is the best place to live and work — it’s @SDlifechanging 🤓. I mean, who can say no to a life of beach, burritos, and a largely happy people?
🌴 Join our San Diego Startup slack here. And if you’re in North County, join the #startupnoco channel. 🌊
Here’s what you’ll find in this guide:
Why SD is One of America’s Best Startup Cities
SD VC Activity
SD Angel Groups
SD Startups to Watch
SD Incubators and Accelerators
SD Co-Working Spaces
SD Events and Conferences
SD Tech Media and Podcasts
SD Startup Jobs
SD City Resources
SD Other Financial Resources
SD Fortune 1000 Titans
Fastest Growing Companies in SD
Feel free to jump around and if you see I missed something, please leave a comment.
YTY growth in startup activity: SD went up 7 ranking spots (from 11 to 4) all in 1 year
Top rate in new entrepreneurs: SD is at .49% (that’s great as the top rate is .56%)
Top opportunity share of new entrepreneurs: SD lands at 82.54% (that said, we can work on this number — the top metro share percentage is 95.90%)
Top startup density: SD is at 95.9% (we can also work on this number — the top metro share percentage is 120.7%)
US Chamber of Commerce’s Ranking| In the the annual Innovation that Matters report, SD ranks #4 in the best startup cities list. The study ranked SD based on (1) the city’s main economic and support networks integrated into the startup community, (2) the engagement of key actors in the city’s startup community (e.g. Qualcomm Technologies, Qualcomm Ventures, and Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office).
Confidence | SD is also building a solid brand and a community that is confident in its practicality and potential. You can read more about why in Beck Bamberger’s post Why These 8 Startups Chose San Diego as a Headquarters. And on that note, I agree with Danny Mcconville when he says: Opportunity, affordability, and talent pool is what some admire about [San Diego].
Status of SD VC Activity
“There is certainly a lot of momentum [from 2017] going into 2018. So, I think generally the expectation is a continuation of the recent trends,” Eric Hornsten, Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers SD, shared optimistically with the San Diego Union Tribune last year.
Pitchbook 1Q 2017 to 1Q 2018 US VC deal metrics shows the same deal count of 37 for both years. The 37 deal value totalled $349.7M with a Median deal size of $3.5M in 1Q’17 (no numbers were reported for 1Q’18). Those numbers place San Diego at #10 amongst all other US regions.
2018 is in line with what Eric Hornsten, Partner of PwC US, said about San Diego’s 2017 VC activity: Big picture, the number of deals and the number of dollars invested in San Diego in 2017 was pretty consistent with 2016. The difference from a national trend perspective: there are fewer deals but relative larger dollars in SD.
That said, the Q1'18 Money Tree report states that there were only 15 SD deals with a value of $346M this quarter.
SD has a lot of opportunity to get us out of the plateau and push us to grow. And I believe SD will do better because of its community.
Now, to explore the community, I share all the relevant San Diego tech startup resources that I could find. If I missed any, let me know in the comment section.
SD Tech VCs
Analytics Ventures: Analytics Ventures is a seed fund focused on Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Internet of Things.
Avalon: Avalon Ventures is an early stage venture capital fund focused on information technology and life sciences.
Blackbird Ventures: Blackbird Ventures is a California-based principal investment firm specialized in funding technology and real estate companies.
Bootstrap Ventures: Bootstrap is a venture capital firm of successful, specialized entrepreneurs dedicated to helping other entrepreneurs grow their businesses in data analytics, cloud, sales, marketing tech and more.
Correlation Ventures: Correlation Ventures finances early, seed, and later stage venture, and debt financing investments and is based in California.
CWC HealthTech Ventures: CWC HealthTech Advisors is a San Diego company that makes investments in portfolio companies, independently, or with others. They invest in health technology companies, primarily in the San Diego area of Southern California.
Finistere Ventures: Founded in 2005, Finistere Ventures is an American venture capital firm that offers investments for early-stage agtech companies.
Illumina Ventures:Illumina Ventures invests primarily in early stage companies. Focus areas include applications of genomics in life science research, healthcare, agriculture and environmental science, public safety and personal wellness.
Jackson Square Ventures: Jackson Square Ventures is an early stage VC firm investing in SaaS and marketplace startups.
Moore VP: Moore Venture Partners (MVP) is a traditional venture capital fund investing in early, growth, and expansion-stage technology and life science companies.
Nex3: Nex Cubed is a frontier technology focused seed-stage investor and Accelerator.
Qualcomm Ventures: Qualcomm Ventures makes investments in startups developing next-generation technologies that will promote future growth for Qualcomm.
Social Leverage: Social Leverage is a fund that invests in exceptional entrepreneurs in the technology space.
Seismic: Seismic is the leading global sales and marketing enablement solution, improving close rates and delivering larger deals for sales.
Paperless Proposal: Proposal generation, delivery, tracking & management software. Shorten the sales cycle & win more business.
Halo Business Intelligence: Halo provides a platform for self-service supply chain planning and data discovery that enables organizations to grow revenue, gain competitive advantage, and increase customer satisfaction.
Blue Sky eLearn: Blue Sky eLearn provides cloud-based LMS and learning platforms with virtual event services to maximize their client engagements with global audiences.
Axure RP: Axure RP allows for rapid prototyping of products without the need to code.
Classy: Classy is an online and mobile platform that enables social good organizations to raise funds for various causes.
Tealium: Tealium is a provider of a tag management system, including analytics, advertising and affiliate enterprise websites.
MindTouch: MindTouch offers cloud software that provides self-service customer experiences that create product experts and improves marketing, sales and support.
SeatAdvisor SABO: SeatAdvisor is a smart ticketing solution that helps organizations and venues of all sizes.
SmartDraw: SmartDraw.com is the creator of SmartDraw, the world’s first visual processor, software that enables the everyday use of visuals to improve communication.
Ad Astra: San Diego’s first-of-its-kind, female focused accelerator and fund that concludes with a guaranteed investment. We’re on a mission to equip female entrepreneurs to build, run, and scale investable businesses.
CONNECT Springboard Program: CONNECT is a regional program that catalyzes the creation of innovative technology and life sciences products in San Diego County by linking inventors and entrepreneurs with the resources they need for success.
Plug and Play San Diego: Plug and Play Tech Center is a seed and early-stage investor focused on great teams leading emerging growth companies. Plug and Play runs 12 industry-specific accelerator programs twice a year, that acts as a platform for major corporations and high quality startups to connect and collaborate.
The Wireless Health Hub: Wireless Health Hub is a new startup community for wireless health entrepreneurs, founders, investors, business leaders and other health technology professionals in the entrepreneurial stack. We’re creating mentorship-focused programs for startups who are creating wireless medical devices, services or personal health apps or devices.
MystartupXX: A diversity-driven accelerator program run by the Rady School of Management and Jacobs School of Engineering. The program supports the entrepreneurial goals of women and others who are traditionally underrepresented in entrepreneurship programs.
StartR: is a nonprofit accelerator for MBA students and alumni at the Rady School of Management. This free six-month program is designed to provide entrepreneurs the tools needed to start and grow their businesses.
Founder Institute: Founder Institute operates as an early-stage startup accelerator which enables entrepreneurs to launch new technology companies.
Bio, Tech and Beyond (Carlsbad): Bio, Tech, and Beyond is an emerging economic biotech hub zone that is focused on facilitating business.
BlueTech Incubator (La Jolla): The Maritime Alliance has launched a business incubator focused on ocean- and water-based industries.
CyberTECH NEST:CYBER Hive is a sustainable non-profit shared workspace and incubator community focused in the areas advanced new technologies including devices powering the IoT, software and app development, robotics, 3D printing, and drones.
The Basement (UCSD): A campus-wide enterprise managed by UCSD Alumni and Community Engagement, is a collaborative space where students can find alumni and industry mentors, business guidance and funding to bring innovative ideas to life.
Zahn Innovation Platform Launchpad (SDSU): This incubator and entrepreneurial community assists San Diego State University’s innovators and aspiring entrepreneurs in launching viable startups.
SD Tech Labs
JLABS: JLABS provides a capital-efficient, resource-rich environment where emerging companies can transform the scientific discoveries of today into the breakthrough healthcare products of tomorrow.
Qualcomm Institute Innovation Space: The Qualcomm Institute is the UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), one of four Gray Davis Institutes for Science and Innovation located on University of California campuses.
Hardtechlabs: Science first biotech accelerator and IP commercialization
Hera Labs: Hera Labs’ mission is to inspire, equip, and propel female founders to successfully plans, launch, and scale their original businesses, thus positively impacting their local, national and global economies.
SD Co-Working Spaces
Check out co-working spaces on SD Tech Scene’s interactive map here. For ratings you can visit this site! And for those who like lists, see below.
1 Million Cups San Diego: Based on the notion that entrepreneurs discover solutions and network over a million cups of coffee, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation developed 1 Million Cups in 2012 — a free program designed to educate, engage and connect entrepreneurs with their communities. 1 Million Cups is now in more than 160 communities across the country. Reach out to michael j. crawford.
Athena: To empower progress together by advancing professional women in STEM.
Cleantech San Diego: Accelerating clean technology innovation and adoption of sustainable business practices for the benefit of the economy and the environment.
CONNECT: CONNECT is a regional program that catalyzes the creation of innovative technology and life sciences products in San Diego County by linking inventors and entrepreneurs with the resources they need for success.
Entrepreneur Organization, San Diego: The Entrepreneur’ Organization enables entrepreneurs to learn and grow from each other leading to greater business success and an enriched personal life.
MIT Enterprise Forum San Diego: Founded in 1978 as part of the MIT Alumni Association, the MIT Enterprise Forum produces 400+ events, activities, and workshops annually to inform, connect, coach and inspire technology entrepreneurs, business leaders and enthusiasts.
StartupNoCo: Founders, funders, entrepreneurial community fans & supporters, we’re bringing our North County entrepreneurial community together over coffee 1x a month. RSVP here for the next event.
Startup Week San Diego: Once a year, Startup Week brings together entrepreneurs to share progress, exchange resources, and celebrate the thriving innovation community. We’re putting all our efforts into bringing together the community to showcase exciting local innovation, share resources and knowledge, and strengthen connections.
SD Tech Scene: SD Tech Scene is the most comprehensive calendar for San Diego tech and startup events, user groups, tech job listings, co-working spaces, and venues.
SDSIC / TechSanDiego: Since 1994, Tech San Diego has provided a unifying voice for San Diego’s technology community, fostering growth and business acceleration through collaborations between industry, education, and government.We support members from all sectors of the technology industry, including cybersecurity, big data, robotics, SaaS, biotech/healthcare, Internet of Things, defense, telecom and more.
San Diego Venture Group: Founded in 1986,SDVG is a non-profit organization designed to bring together people who are interested in new ventures and furthering individual companies, as well as our overall innovation community.
Xconomy: Xconomy is dedicated to providing business and technology leaders with timely, insightful, close-to-the-scene information about the local personalities, companies, and technological trends that best exemplify today’s high-tech economy.