SeismicSD Is the Start of Something Big for San Diego’s Tech Ecosystem

Author: Keith Muhart, Senior Director of Marketing for Qualcomm Ventures

Paul Burke, founder and CEO of The Guru delivering his company pitch at Seismic SD2017

Last winter, a heated debate took place among a bunch of tech folks at Ballast Point, one of San Diego’s landmark breweries: how do we get VCs more engaged in the San Diego startup scene? We all agreed that our city’s startup ecosystem was too fragmented, and we knew the VCs up north needed a compelling reason to come to San Diego to better understand exactly what is happening here. The outcome of that night of drinks and conversation is Seismic SD, an event for San Diego’s startups and ecosystem partners.

The goal was to create an event that would showcase the region’s most promising startups, and bring together its most prolific partners. We felt that the name Seismic was appropriate, as it reflects something that may start out small but could lead to something huge with potential widespread effects.

On June 15, we launched the first Seismic SD event at The Music Box in downtown San Diego, with more than 300 guests, 100+ investors, and 40 amazing San Diego startups. While Seismic SD was a local event, the goal was to have its impact reach far beyond Southern California. That’s already happened, thanks to the attention that startups like Guru have received from outlets like Forbes for their work using AR to deliver more immersive experiences for the 850 million people who visit museums annually.

Guru participated in the event’s Seismic Seed Investment competition, which offered the winning startup a $100,000 investment from Qualcomm Ventures (the investment arm of Qualcomm Incorporated), a $100,000 credit in cloud services from Amazon, and $25,000 in legal support credits from DLA Piper. Selecting the finalists was unique in that we worked directly with each of our key partners — EvoNexus, CONNECT, Tech Coast Angels and the San Diego Venture Group — to help identify and recruit top candidates that were or had been part of their programs. This included companies like our finalists: Additive Rocket Corp, Fabric8Labs, Tortuga Logic, Grolltex, Urban Translations, Qeepsake, VerifiR, and, of course, Guru, our Seismic SD 2017 winner.

Quinn Li, VP and Head of Qualcomm Ventures at Seismic SD2017

Seismic SD provided a much-needed catalyst to induce VCs and other investors to come down to San Diego to meet our finest startups. It also created networking opportunities for industry groups, entrepreneurs, and public-sector organizations, such as the Economic Development Corp, to engage with the startup community. We heard from the Mayor of San Diego, Kevin Faulconer, on the importance of entrepreneurism and how we need to do more to make sure we are competitive and at the forefront of this industry.

So many people worked together to make Seismic SD happen. Particularly, Mike Krenn, the president of the SDVG, who already has an established pipeline of “Cool Companies” that he showcases annually to both local and outside investors. His support and contributions were incredibly helpful.

Seismic SD is the start of something that has no finish line. Today, it’s a small rumble that has the potential to grow into something bigger. San Diego’s tech ecosystem is thriving, but there are so many untapped opportunities just waiting to be realized. If we continue to challenge ourselves and push to make it better, Seismic SD has the potential to dramatically impact our region for years to come.

Perhaps a return trip to the brewery is in order.

Keith Muhart is a senior director of marketing for Qualcomm Ventures, the investment arm of Qualcomm Inc. In this role, Keith directs all market research, events and projects for Qualcomm Ventures. Learn more about Keith