February 6, 2015
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact spot in time in which a city’s tech ecosystem begins to really boom, but a lot of people I’ve talked to around San Diego say that it’s happening here right now. True, America’s Greatest City has undergone some changes and welcomed new additions since I first wrote my four part series about the ecosystem here.
Most notably we’ve seen the network of entrepreneurs grow thicker, the local talent coming out of the universities are trending more towards entrepreneurial careers, and the corporate influencers are teaching and learning a lot to and from startups.
However, there’s one aspect of the San Diego tech ecosystem that seems to connect nearly every activity happening here, and it’s the EvoNexus incubator.
To understand why EvoNexus is so central to the city, you have to first understand that it’s not like most other tech incubators you’ve heard of. Not only do they have nonprofit status, but they’re one of the biggest nonprofit incubators in this part of the US.
You might be thinking: big deal, they have nonprofit status, so what? It’s huge; that status allows EvoNexus to subsidize all office space for every startup in the incubator across all of their locations, and they don’t require companies to surrender any equity for working out of the offices.
They’ve been able to maintain their nonprofit status to date because they have a host of sponsors that believe in them and support their mission, and we’re not just talking about one or two corporate entities. Rather, EvoNexus is fueled by sponsors on nearly every level: mentor sponsors, multi-national sponsors, and strategic funding partners.
I’m going to list their sponsors, but I want you to consider something while you read it. What might this list say about the credibility of the organization?
- The Irvine Company (subsidizes all office spaces)
- ecoATM (former EvoNexus company)
Qualcomm reviews all companies admitted to EvoNexus and, if they fall in the Qualcomm wheelhouse, are potentially funded. Cisco has developed an Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) program that supports the early-stage entrepreneurs innovating on cloud services, big data and analytics, enterprise mobility, and the Internet of Everything.
I’ve heard it directly, with my own two ears, from most of the companies that have come out of EvoNexus: that level of credibility they have the opportunity to associate with is beyond valuable.
EvoNexus’ credibility is only further bolstered by the fact that they manage and host events of their own for the startups and entrepreneurs in their program. Specifically, the team is incredibly proud of their MarketLink program, and they should be.
MarketLink seeks to connect some of the largest companies with startups and entrepreneurs developing the latest technologies. If a startup in EvoNexus is accepted to the internal MarketLink program, they get a 55 minute meeting with niche-fitting corporate executives to help take their product or idea the distance.
If you’re blown away by their level of success, I wouldn’t be surprised. At current they incubate 48 different companies across three locations; two are in San Diego and one is in Irvine.
Their stat line is the icing on the cake, proving just how influential they are to the San Diego ecosystem:
- $588 million raised in funding and outcomes
- 9 company acquisitions
- 83 startups in portfolio, 73 of which are still active – that’s an 88% success rate
- 1,000 jobs created as a direct result of incubated companies
If San Diego is truly entering the next level of tech startup glory, then something must have been responsible for pushing it there. I think it’s very safe to say that EvoNexus has been one of the major driving forces of this movement.
If you want to get in the action, EvoNexus is currently accepting applications for interested startups that want to get in on the action either in San Diego or Irvine. The deadline closes at the end of February.
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