Nest Founder Envisions Bigger Tech Community in Downtown San Diego
First came the Cyberhive, a tech incubator in San Diego’s Bankers Hill neighborhood that opened three years ago to help local cybersecurity startups refine their business plans, identify investors, and advance their technologies.
In 2014, Cyberhive founder Darin Andersen added iHive, making space in the same building for startups that are focused on the Internet of Things (IoT), technologies that combine inexpensive sensing devices with wireless networks, cloud computing, data, analytics, and cybersecurity. About four months ago, he unveiled plans to add xHive, an incubator designated for hardware-oriented startups focused on drones, robots, and emerging technologies like 3D printing.
And now, Andersen has added Nest, an umbrella organization for managing Cyberhive, iHive, and xHive that also has opened a co-working space for marketing firms, individuals, and anyone else who wants to be part of the expanding tech community he is building. In a ribbon-cutting ceremony yesterday, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and other civic and business officials opened Nest, sharing Andersen’s vision of the uptown San Diego neighborhood as a blossoming hub for tech innovation.
“What we’re trying to do here is far-reaching, to make a difference in San Diego, and to make an effort in new areas of collaboration that haven’t been done before,” Andersen told me. “We’re not only supporting startups, but creating a community around them.”
It has taken Andersen years to build out his vision for a colony of specialized incubators in the office building at 1855 First Avenue, just north of San Diego’s trendy Little Italy neighborhood, a design and restaurant district that includes DeskHub, another co-working space. Andersen has gradually expanded his master lease to encompass 16,000 square feet of what’s known as the Manpower building, and he says Nest is now the biggest co-working space in downtown San Diego.
While individual entrepreneurs can work at Nest for free, Andersen said they are eventually encouraged to participate as “non-resident” members, who pay $140 a month to get access to online resources and services. The rate for regular resident members ranges from $300 a month for a desk to $3,000 or more for startup offices.
Andersen said many of the most-promising startups to pass through the incubator have been focused on cybersecurity technologies, including Cyberflow Analytics, AttackIQ, ThreatStop, and Crypteron.
From the beginning, Andersen also has been organizing CyberTech, a networking community that he said now numbers in the thousands. CyberTech hosts Meetup groups focused on cybersecurity, IoT, and other topics. More recently, the network has joined a statewide initiative to advance the goals of the California Cybersecurity Task Force and the City of San Diego’s initiative to organize a Smart City Hackathon to accomplish its climate action plan.
While Andersen describes Nest as an incubator, he said he’s creating a hybrid model that wraps networking meetups and events around specialized incubators for tech-focused startups, shared workspaces, temporary workspaces, and co-working spaces for service providers and others.
In addition to the leased space in the Manpower building, Andersen said he’s in the process of buying a church at 590 Fir Street. In a recent walk-through tour, he described his plan to convert the main church and its commercial kitchen into an event and entertainment space that includes a music recording and digital editing studio.
He plans to add a music incubator, an incubator for nonprofit organizations, and a mix of co-work offices throughout the building, which is being rechristened Park6. Andersen said he expects to have most of the needed improvements done by this summer, and he’s already planning a CyberTech “Taste of San Diego” event in November that features speakers, recipes from over 20 local restaurants, and musical entertainment.