San Diego has fostered quite the startup scene, with bright new entrepreneurs cementing their path in today’s growing tech ecosystem. Every novel idea needs space to fully develop, and Rory Moore, co-founder and CEO of EvoNexus, was one of the leaders to make it happen, launching a non-profit incubator organized to re-energize San Diego’s early-stage startup ecosystem.
Listen in as Neal Bloom chats with Rory Moore about the evolution of EvoNexus as well as his personal growth in the San Diego tech industry.
4:00 Rory takes us through his early ventures. Growing up, he held a keen fascination with aerospace, so he started his first aerospace and aviation company in the mid-70s. He joined the airforce straight out of high school and subsequently studied at University of Michigan. After college, Rory started his first venture, a company in the aerospace and aviation industry. This was the first of many startups he built, during the first of many economic crises he’s faced as an entrepreneur.
8:05 Though San Diego is now commonly referred to as a tech hub, it was not always that way. Rory shares that, in the 90s, Qualcomm was not even a chip company, but rather focused its efforts towards improving digital communication and geolocation technology. Rory also sheds light on the state of several other 90s tech companies.
11:34 In Rory’s early days as a San Diego entrepreneur, there weren’t many resources available for entrepreneurs. With limited resources, it was not uncommon for entrepreneurs like Rory to refinance their homes, rent subpar office spaces, and do other scrappy things to make ends meet. And to keep one of his early businesses alive, Rory and his team were able to raise $18.5 million in angel money over the course of several years.
14:53 Amid the Great Recession, Rory felt that it was his personal responsibility to help local entrepreneurs. As a result, he and his business partner set out to find companies that would support the idea of a free incubator; Qualcomm and Viasat, among others, agreed to help set up this resource, and they got to work fashioning an incubator from the ground up.
17:55 Some may wonder why large companies would help kickstart a free resource for early-stage ventures. Rory explains that to these large companies, the early-stage ecosystem matters because it fosters a healthy economy, attracts venture capital to the region, and retains talent.
24:02 Expanding EvoNexus’s reach across multiple locations wasn’t always the goal for Rory and the team; they were content with just focusing on the UTC/Golden Triangle area. However, they were approached by Irvine Company with an offer to expand into Downtown, and to focus on helping startups in the software space.
31:55 Long before COVID-19 struck, the EvoNexus decided to eliminate geographic boundaries and adopt a virtual incubator setting. This allowed companies from all around to work with remote access to venture capitalists, mentors, regimen, and programs. Though he is a proponent of the benefits of a digital work environment, Rory believes that in-person interaction is crucial to developing startups, and will eventually revert to being the norm.
40:00 Rory expresses his thoughts on the San Diego startup scene’s future, including the presence of prominent VCs. He believes that local universities need to stress the importance of entrepreneurship among their students more than they currently do in order to foster a stronger startup ecosystem in San Diego.
Rory’s favorite local tacos:
Taco Surf in Pacific Beach
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Thanks to our partners at Cox Business for their support in enabling us to grow the San Diego ecosystem.