UPDATE: Orange County Startup Council After One Year
In the spirit of “we’re all in this together,” here’s an update on the Orange County Startup Council, commissioned by OCSN, written by Logan Orsini and edited by Deirdre Newman….
It’s been about a year since Scott Fox launched the Orange County Startup Council, a for-profit organization that charges startups and service providers to be included in its directory, as well as for varying levels of publicity, depending on how much they pay.
Fox said his directories and services help founders of early-stage companies, and investors become aware of local resources, organizations and virtual events to help their businesses grow.
Fox said he believes that OC’s startup ecosystem is geographically fragmented, so it can be hard for new entrepreneurs to know where the relevant resources are.
OC Startup Council’s goal is to make all those resources — including events, press releases and blogs — centralized into one platform for entrepreneurs to easily find.
It partners with other local startup support organizations, including the EvoNexus incubator in Irvine, Tech Coast Angels’ OC chapter (TCA OC), the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce, as well as local service providers like Silicon Valley Bank, KPMG, Orange Marketing and law firms.
Fox, like everyone involved in OC’s startup ecosystem, has a mission of improving community relationships, as well as attracting more capital and job creation to OC.
Fox is a serial entrepreneur, startup advisor, author and member of TCA OC.
He has a law degree from Stanford University and also took courses at Stanford’s Business School while he was in law school.
His early work experience includes stints at J.P. Morgan and Bankers Trust Company in NYC.
Then, he moved to LA and worked as the CFO and general counsel for Sony Music subsidiary, Immortal Records. Next, he launched his own music entertainment company, which was backed by Intel Capital and Phoenix Venture Partners.
He worked with many digital media startups, including one with Larry King. He also served as the COO for conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly’s online presence and as the EVP and executive producer for Live Nation, where he helped start LiveNation.com.
The American Management Association started publishing his entrepreneurship books in 2006. The books are about how to get rich on the Internet and become a millionaire through online startup ventures.
The books are best-sellers worldwide, Fox said, and have been translated into several languages, including Russian, Japanese, Turkish, Vietnamese and Polish.
He donates the proceeds of the royalties he receives from these book sales to fund college scholarships for inner-city students in his hometown of Detroit.
Fox said he amassed the expertise to write these books from “years of training and experience on Wall Street and then in law school and (taking classes at the) business school at Stanford.”
“(It all) came together for me just when the commercial Internet was being born,” Fox told OCSN. “I raised venture capital to start my own dot-com during the first boom and worked for and with many others, too. I started writing to share the expertise I had learned because I wanted to help others benefit from the opportunities the Internet revolution offers, especially people who were outside Silicon Valley or were first time entrepreneurs.”
Fox declined to disclose his current net worth. He said he’s been a long-time accredited investor by traditional SEC standards, as well as an angel investor in many startups.
Fox said he has not invested in any of the startups that are currently in the council’s directory. Although, he is an investor in the new TCA OC Fund 20, so there may be some overlap there. See related article here about this new fund here.
Keeping the Startup Council’s Directory Current
In terms of monitoring the listings in the startup directory — with new companies starting and existing startups dissolving all the time — Fox said that just recently, one of his team members started reviewing the first wave of listings.
“So far we’re only a year so old, so most are still in business, at least as far as we know,” Fox said. “And reports otherwise from the community are always welcome.”
Different Tiers of Membership
There is a membership for startups and a membership for service providers. Both allow basic listings directory for free.
The free listings get startups into the appropriate categories in the Startup Ecosystem Directory, which Fox said “enables customers or investors seeking those types of companies to more easily find them.”
“It also offers backlinks with valuable Google juice to help their SEO rankings,” he said.
The directory currently has about 75 to 100 startups listed.
After the free membership, the cost goes up considerably for startups, from $25 to $1,299.
Fox told OCSN that charging a startup close to $1,300 for the top tier is a small price to pay for what they get in return.
“Startups that choose the higher levels of membership want to raise their profile and/or support our work in the community and/or they see the many member benefits the council provides as worth it,” Fox said.
The higher the price for membership, the more perks it includes, including more publicity.
Lower costs of membership include being listed in the directory, as well as in a startups “map. “It also includes publicity posts on the council’s blog and in its email blasts.
Ongoing publicity includes the publishing of company announcements, more press releases and social media coverage, as well as invitations to virtual events and introductions to service providers or investors that founders would like to meet.
Other benefits include discounted or free offers from service providers like the Rutan & Tucker law firm, the KPMG accounting firm, HubSpot, Brex, and Oracle, including up to $25,000 in Amazon Web Service credits. (Amazon Web Services is a subsidiary of Amazon that provides on-demand cloud computing platforms and applications to companies on a metered pay-as-you-go basis.)
“Those benefits can help startups grow faster and save a lot of money,” Fox said.
Membership for service providers range from $99 to $1,500.
The perks that these providers get, depending on how much they pay, include publicity, introductions, speaking opportunities and referrals similar to those received by startup members.
Effects of the Pandemic
Fox said the biggest change he’s seen over the past few months is that he’s receiving a lot fewer in-person event submissions for the calendar. And, a lot more virtual events, since everything has gone virtual since the pandemic started.
And, his MasterMinds OC Startup Accelerator — which he launched online in 2009 and in-person in 2017 — has stopped its in-person meetups, until it’s safe to resume them.
“We want to continue to help people build relationships and grow the ecosystem even though we’re all constrained by physical distancing,” he said.