*UPDATE: OCTANe Shifts Growth Focus to Entire SoCal Region

Accelerating growth throughout SoCal is a main mission of OCTANe, a technology and life sciences accelerator, in Aliso Viejo. To that end, it used its annual Technology Innovation Forum (TIF) on May 31-June 1 to formally announce a shift in its growth services division.

What started a -year-and-a-half ago as a concept and evolved into a portal is now a full-fledged platform serving all of SoCal. That’s critical because the growth and success of OC’s innovation ecosystem is tied to the larger SoCal region, OCTANe CEO Bill Carpou said. (see related story here)

And, this platform has a new director, Nicole Washington, who came on board two-and-a-half months ago. She owns Micro Biz Coach, which works with micro and small business owners as a consultant.

She also founded Nicole’s Naturals, with HQ in Irvine. This is a gluten-free food manufacturing company that’s developed gluten-free grain products.

And she’s a member of the Ohio TechAngel Fund, where she served as the due diligence team technology lead for several years.

Washington moderated a panel at TIF on accelerating growth in SoCal. Opinions on the panel included:

  • SoCal is open to new, innovative ideas
  • startups can build more differentiated niches here
  • and that there’s a large pool of engineering and science

talent coming out of all the engineering schools in the region

There’s also a higher level of loyalty among startup employees here in OC, said Bruce Hallett, managing director of Miramar Venture Partners. (see related story here)

“In Silicon Valley, there’s a portfolio mindset to diversify their portfolio (of stock options),” Hallett said, adding that serves as a catalyst for employees to jump ship every few years and move to another startup to hedge their bets.

Joe Morgan, a tech investment banker with D.A. Davidson, said that there’s actually too much capital these days in Silicon Valley, which can’t get liquidated fast enough.

“I think there’s a decent amount of capital here,” he said, referring to the SoCal region.

As an example, he pointed out that K1 Investment Management, in El Segundo recently announced that it set a $1.5 billion target for its fourth flagship fund, which would surpass a 2016 effort that brought in $785 million. K1 invests in lower- to middle-market software companies in North America.

About The Author

Deirdre Newman is a long-time journalist, who's covered OC startups for a few years.

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