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Latest VC Figures Show Growing Interest in S.D.

Venture capital investment in San Diego County Internet, telecommunications, technology and biotechnology companies totaled more than $200 million in the third quarter of 1999, the most recent quarter for which figures are available.

It’s the first time that’s happened in a single quarter here, according to James Ingraham, a partner with the local office of Price Waterhouse Coopers, an accounting and statistical reporting firm.

The latest VC report shows the growing interest San Diego technology has for venture capital firms. In recent months, three venture capital firms and business incubators have opened in San Diego, hoping to get in on the ground floor at new technology companies for a tremendous profit later when they go public.

– VC Firms, Incubators

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Open For Business Locally

Two weeks ago, the brand-new ideaEDGE opened its doors for business at 6363 Greenwich Drive. In February, BridgeNext Ventures LLC opened an office at 4370 La Jolla Village Drive.

Venture Catalyst, which started out as First Inland Entertainment Corp., bills itself as a venture service provider and business incubator. It recently changed its name to reflect a shift in its focus to full-time venture endeavors.

It made its biggest local mark advising the Barona Band of Mission Indians on how to organize and promote their casino operation.

Angeline Lechman, a spokeswoman for Venture Catalyst, said the company is not technically a venture capital firm, but mainly provides services for companies seeking venture capital and also acts as an incubator, providing office space, telecommunications access and promotional consulting. That’s done from the company’s facility at 16868 Via Del Campo Court in Rancho Bernardo.

“We’re providing services to these start-ups in exchange for cash or a combination of equity and cash,” Lechman said. “We also have three companies that we have made a straight investment in their business.”

Taher Behbehani, president of BridgeNext Ventures LLC, said his company invests in wireless telecommunications, networking and service provider companies that deal in those areas.

– Sharing Knowledge

Learned By Experience

“We are mostly a technology investment firm and bring to the table not only the investment funds but a thorough understanding of those areas,” Behbehani said. “We have all started companies ourselves and know where people make mistakes in beginning a business.”

He said that in addition to being interested in people with a very unique idea, his company also looks for start-ups with management teams that are very strong in implementing and executing the schedules in their business plans.

The company has been in business in San Diego now for five months. Prior to that, he worked with other venture capital firms from Europe to identify high-tech opportunities in the United States.

IdeaEDGE LLC is what its principals call a venture accelerator and management firm, and has a management team made up of executives from four different technology companies.

Jim Key, a spokesman for the company, said it was formed to help new Internet ventures and has partnerships with several venture capital firms in order to fund start-ups.

Companies developing business-to-business Internet solutions, Internet infrastructure, mobile wireless Internet solutions and post- personal computer Internet devices are the kinds of firms ideaEDGE is looking to back, Key said.

“We help take Internet ventures and bring them to market for a public stock offering,” Key said, adding the four managing partners are also former Gateway Inc. executives.

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