San Diego’s technology entrepreneurs are coming together this month for a series of mostly virtual educational and networking sessions on topics ranging from raising seed money to sales and marketing, from creating a company culture to what it takes to become a startup unicorn.
San Diego Startup Month — the pandemic-related evolution of the long-running San Diego Startup Week — began Monday and continues through Oct. 29. It expects to attract more than 1,000 participants to 160-plus sessions centered around themed tracks.
While most sessions are virtual again this year because of COVID-19, one event being held in person is scheduled on Friday. A Startup Fair networking event will be hosted at Downtown Works Carlsbad, 2011 Palomar Airport Road, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. It’s sponsored by the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. Masks are required during indoor check-in and certain other indoor activities.
First held in 2012, Startup Week/Month is put on by Startup San Diego, a nonprofit focused on growing the local community of entrepreneurs. Theme sessions are clustered around customers, data, developers, sales, designers, founders, people and marketing.
“I don’t know that we’ve ever had community leaders curate the content so heavily as this year,” said Neal Bloom, chairman emeritus of Startup San Diego. “The Data Science Alliance took over the data track. The developer track is being curated by the group Creating Coding Careers. They are helping make sure the content is relevant not only to developers but to people who are interested in developing down the road, because talent is a big part of what we do.
“So, it’s not just about helping founders,” he continued. “It’s helping people who might want to work at a startup, because even that is risky.”
A highlight from this week was the unicorn panel on Monday, which featured executives from two of San Diego’s latest startups valued at over $1 billion — Flock Freight and Shield AI.
Late last year, Flock Freight raised $113.5 million in funding led by SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund 2, Google Ventures, Volvo Group Venture Capital and others to grow its algorithm-based logistics system for trucking that reduces the volume of partially loaded trucks on the road, saving fuel and other costs.
In August, Shield AI pulled in $210 million for its artificial intelligence drone technology that has been used in actual Middle East conflict zones by the U.S. military. The technology allows small surveillance drones to operate beyond line of sight and in communication-constrained environments, such as inside buildings.
Additional San Diego Startup Month events include a Pitch Competition and Tournament. Nominated startups will compete for the opportunity to pitch in front of Tech Coast Angels, get free mentor sessions with LogicBoost Labs and a fellowship to Founders Institute Program.
A second in-person awards and closing party is slated Oct. 29 at the new Alexandria Tech Center in Sorrento Valley, which will include about 150 founders, investors and community members.
Tickets for Startup Week range from $20 for students to $150 for full-price attendees. The complete schedule is available online, with most sessions held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.