Cox Communications, the company that made San Diego one of the first cities with widespread broadband Internet access, is turning its focus to startup businesses. It’s sponsoring Get Started San Diego, an event where entrepreneurs can pitch their business ideas to a seasoned panel of investors, company founders, and executives. One winner will receive a prize package worth $25,000 in cash and business solutions. Times of San Diego spoke with Larry Coval, regional vice president of Cox Business, about the reasons why his company is sponsoring the pitch event on Sept. 28.
Why is Cox promoting the Get Started San Diego pitching event?
Cox has been a part of San Diego for more than 50 years. We’re always looking for ways to support our community, and that includes businesses. The Cox Business team has been very active within the San Diego business community for many years and we have a pulse for small businesses and major enterprise trends. A common theme we found is that successful businesses benefitted from an early stage boost and having the right technology to run and grow their business. We’re excited to bring Get Started to San Diego — it’s the perfect opportunity for entrepreneurs and early stage startups to raise their visibility with investors, potential partners and new customers, and get advice from the experts. Cox Business launched Get Started in 2013, and has now held 32 events nationwide, and awarded about half a million dollars to entrepreneurs in a dozen markets including Orange County, Las Vegas, New Orleans, and New England. A fun fact: our youngest winner was a 15-year-old chef from Tulsa, Oklahoma who later appeared on Food Network’s “Chopped.”
How many startups are expected to participate?
We knew we would get a strong response based on our experience in other markets, and the entrepreneurial environment in San Diego, but we were overwhelmed with the number of entries. Nearly 200 entrepreneurs submitted a pitch, which was more than any other Get Started event to date. It was a difficult task for the judges to narrow the talent pool to only six finalists, but we’re encouraging everyone who applied to attend the free event to network and get great business advice.
What can the participants expect? Will it be fun? High pressure?
Finalists can expect to have a great time. We fully prepare them with coaching sessions ahead of the Get Started event so they can feel confident and give their best pitch to the judges. That’s not to say they won’t get some hard questions. The judges take their role seriously and will be asking several go-to-market strategy and profitability questions.
Also, anyone can come to Get Started San Diego to see the live pitches, network and enjoy some great food and local craft beer. The event is free but you do need to register ahead of time at www.getstartedsandiego.com. Maybe we’ll see them as a finalist next year.
Get Started San Diego isn’t the only pitch event in the next month. Why so many?
San Diego is a hotbed for entrepreneurs and startups. It’s great to see so many organizations encouraging business growth. I believe more organizations are seeing the fruits of sharing their expertise and resources with others. Whether it’s targeting female entrepreneurs, a diverse ethnic group or type of business, there is opportunity and a pitch event for everyone.
Why is San Diego such a good location for startups?
Besides the weather and outdoor playground, San Diego has become more attractive to startups for many reasons — technology being most paramount. A recent study ranked San Diego ninth among the top 25 tech cities in the U.S. — ahead of Los Angeles and Orange County. The study stated it was due to San Diego’s diverse economy, and investment by local universities in engineering and tech schools. Also, San Diego was just designated a US Ignite Smart Gigabit Community, a program that enhances local community innovation to accelerate the development and deployment of next-generation, gigabit applications and services. As a partner of the US Ignite program, and provider of gigabit internet speeds to businesses and homes, Cox believes that San Diego will continue to attract startups.
Get Started San Diego is Thursday, Sept. 28, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier on the embarcadero. Admission is free to the business community, but you must pre-register to attend at www.getstartedsandiego.com.
Times of San Diego, a startup itself, regularly writes about startups in technology, biotech and other sectors of local business. If you are a startup in the San Diego area and want to tell your story, please contact email@example.com.