In a recent investigation 805connect learned that there are at least 30 regional organizations serving entrepreneurs. This explosion of interest in the last few years is worth thinking about in terms of the impact it has on our region. The 805connect project was initially conceived to create a Startup Community initially and has expanded to include businesses in all stages of development. 805connect now lists 90+ organizations that are in startup, incubation or early stages of their development.
Why is this important?
The seeds of our future economic vitality lie in the incubators, classrooms, hackathons and startup weekends in the region. Local leaders are finding ways to support and nurture this growing sector of the economy. Entrepreneurs need support from the entire business community in order to thrive once they have left their virtual nests. We need to support them through mentoring, buying their products or services, helping point them towards trusted service providers and resources. Most importantly, we need to be proud of them and encourage them by telling their stories.
Who’s supporting this entrepreneurial ecosystem?
There are localized pockets of support for entrepreneurs throughout the 805 region, stretching from San Luis Obispo in the North to the Conejo Valley in the South:
Most major schools in the region have dedicated business programs, many focusing on educating entrepreneurs. This leads to a variety of events, seminars, classes and activities that are often open to the public. If you want a dose of entrepreneurial energy you should visit one of the New Venture Competitions and see how excited the students are about their ability to change the future. Even the most jaded business executives can’t help but be influenced by their passion.
- Cal Poly Center for Entrepreneurship
- UCSB Technology Management Program
- Santa Barbara City College, Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
- Cal State University, Channel Islands, Martin V. Smith School of Business and Economics
- California Lutheran University, Center for Entrepreneurship
There are several facilities in the region that provide a safe nest for startups that are beyond the cool idea phase and in the first year of developing a market for their fledgling ideas. These incubators are typically attached to an existing organization, public or private, which helps in funding and keeping the infrastructure in place. The incubators are unique, focusing on support for entrepreneurs in terms of ongoing education, inspiration from other successful entrepreneurs and a process that eventually gets them out of the nest and into their own space.
- SLO Hothouse
- Goleta Entrepreneurial Magnet (GEM)
- ImpactHub – Santa Barbara
- Noospheric – Santa Barbara
- Aspire3 – Ventura
- HUB101 – Ventura County
- Tech Haus – Santa Barbara
- Ventura Ventures Technology Center
- Vsolvit – Ventura County
Co-working spaces offer shared services including conference rooms, private offices, lunchrooms, public spaces and technical infrastructure. These spaces are different than the established rent-an-office organizations as they emphasize collaboration and camaraderie with co-workers. Many of these spaces also host speakers, mixers and opportunities to network with other professionals in the area.
- MIYB – Make It Your Business – Santa Maria
- Synergy – Santa Barbara
- Workzones – Santa Barbara
- Connect Ventura
- Ventura BioCenter
Small Business Support
Once a fledgling business has left the nest there are other services that are available in the region. One supportive of the business community is the Small Business Development Center, a part of SBA.gov. Their offices cover all three counties and have a cadre of trusted consultants who provide much needed guidance. Another established organization is SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives). This organization brings hundreds of years of executive experience to the table. CoFounders Crunch describes themselves as rocket fuel for entrepreneurs and startup communities, they are involved in a variety of projects that are supporting this growing sector.
- Small Business Development Center for Innovation – San Luis Obispo
- Small Business Development Center – Santa Barbara and Ventura
- SCORE – Ventura
- CoFounders Crunch – Venture Development Firm
There are Startup Weekends in each of the 805 counties. These events, attended by entrepreneurs, local business leaders, mentors and enthusiasts span 50+ hours and have netted some interesting new companies as a result. Our region recently hosted the Western Regional Meeting of Up.co, the organization behind StartupWeekend.
Many of these organizations also provide ongoing opportunities throughout the year to connect you with entrepreneurs and others interested in starting up a business. Click the links below to sign up for their mailing lists so you don’t miss an opportunity.
Makerspaces are shared workshops that have all the tools and expertise that someone who loves to make things would ever want. These spaces offer membership and training, so that you can learn everything you need to know about soldering, woodworking, 3d printing and a host of other technologies to create prototypes of new products or just for fun.
Other support for Entrepreneurs
There are other places that support businesses, such as the 24 local Chambers of Commerce, the Business Resources Center at each of the various cities in the region and the innumerable links you can find when you Google the term I need support for my business.
805connect and Every Business in the Region
The heart of 805connect is a single platform that connects businesses at all stages of their evolution. Our focus encompasses the entire life cycle of a business. The 805connect profile is applicable to any business at any stage and especially for the entrepreneurs that are looking for help and guidance as they work tirelessly to realize their dream. If you are contacted by an organization or a budding Mark Zuckerberg for help, think about how you might be able to give some advice or support.
We look forward to celebrating successes and supporting growth of our local talent and business ecosystem.
If you know of another support resource for entrepreneurs and startups, please add it to the Comments below.