San Diego’s Wireless Industry Establishes Startup Incubator

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in the seed round here, and the angel network isn’t that great either,” he says. “As an entrepreneur, you have to figure out how to bootstrap.”

Moore also conceded that technology incubators have had mixed success—especially over the past decade. Dozens of high-flying, for-profit Internet incubators—including San Diego’s IdeaEDGE—flamed out after the dot-com bubble popped in early 2000. Nevertheless, he contends San Diego needs something like this. Moore also says the incubator model has been successful among some of Silicon Valley most-prominent venture capital firms.

“The community understands that we have to do things a little differently, because things are different here,” Moore says. “The advantage that Cathy will have is access to other forms of capital and access to in-kind contributions.”

Tyler Orion, former executive director of a group of technology incubators known as the Pacific Incubation Network, tells me she’s pleased to see CommNexus make the attempt. “The combination of pre-screening for credible business concepts, plus mentoring, plus a strong director, plus a nurturing start-up environment has been proven time and again to contribute substantially to launching viable companies,” Orion says. We haven’t had great success with incubators ‘with walls’ in San Diego, but the incubation model definitely has been proven in other communities and I’m still a fan.”

Rory Moore

Rory Moore

The decision to create the incubator also reflects strong support among the CommNexus board members who represent many of San Diego’s biggest tech companies. “The entire board of directors of CommNexus is behind this,” Moore says. “And when I say Qualcomm is behind it, they are behind it in ways that I can’t talk about, along with other companies like Nokia, LG, and Peregrine Semiconductor.”

Even during the current VC funding drought, Moore says entrepreneurs with the right technology and a compelling business plan stand a better chance to get funding at the incubator, which will at least give them easier “access to the right people.” Local executives, engineers, and other professionals who support San Diego’s venture community have committed to volunteer as advisors, instructors and startup mentors.

Moore is a competitive aerobatic pilot, and he sounded characteristically brash and confident during our conversation. After nine months of economic retreat, and at a time when the vacancy rate of San Diego’s commercial office space is approaching 28 percent, Moore seems to view the incubator almost as a line in the sand. Sure enough, in a statement issued late yesterday, Moore says, “EvoNexus is a rallying point for our community to be proactive towards developing successful companies irrespective of the challenges we face.”

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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