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Interview Published July 24, 2000

Dennis Cagan, Santa Barbara Technology Incubator

Dennis Cagan is the Chairman and CEO of the newly formed Santa Barbara Technology Incubator, a new company focused on incubating technology companies in the Santa Barbara area and beyond. I asked Dennis a little bit about the incubator and his experience in the area.

BK: What is the Santa Barbara Technology Incubator, and what is your focus?

DC: Santa Barbara Technology Incubator is a full service incubation environment that focuses on moving very early stage high technology ventures from the concept phase to their first round of tier-one venture financing. We remove all non-strategic, yet essential, business formation tasks from the plates of entrepreneurs to enable maximum focus on high impact business growth opportunities. SBTi supplies seed capital, office space, infrastructure elements like computer and phone networks, equipment leasing, legal/financial services and much more including a large number of very seasoned executives and advisors.

SBTI will be producing high-tech companies that are high-quality venture investor opportunities. Companies coming out of SBTI will enter the venture capital market with more fiscal business discipline, more complete qualified management teams and prudent, cutting edge business models.

We focus on computer software and devices, Internet services and software and communications hardware and software.

BK: How many companies do you see yourself incubating over the next year or so?

DC: Ten to twelve.

BK: What is your background, and how did you get into the incubation business?

DC: I have been in the computer based high-technology industry for over 33 years. Since 1981 I have served as a management consultant and as a member of over 30 Boards of Directors for both public and private companies including Wavefront Technologies (acquired by SGI, (SWCM), Message Media (MESG), SupplySolution, Inc., Commission Junction. My activities are now exclusively affiliated with Santa Barbara Technology Incubator, LLC. More of my background is on our website.

BK: How did you decide to open an incubator in Santa Barbara?

DC: I knew I wanted to remain active in high-technology venture creation, but I was ready to give up the travel and other pieces I no longer enjoyed. My goal was to create an opportunity where I could continue to collaborate with the people I most enjoy, eliminate the need for business travel and still build high-technology companies. Also, Santa Barbara was ready for this.

BK: Why should someone incubate with your company, versus the many other incubators popping up out there?

DC: First of all, SBTI constitutes one of the most complete and all-encompassing incubator models anywhere. We offer the financing, infrastructure, expertise, hands on guidance and relationships that are needed to move a start-up from formation to tier one venture financing. We are the only full service high-technology business incubator from San Luis Obispo to Westlake Village. If someone wants to start a high-tech venture in this area we are by far the best choice.

Second, I have built an world-class management team of high-technology business and entrepreneurial professionals. In addition, we have a deep bench of well-connected highly experienced industry investors and business leaders prepared to mentor and assist in building start-up teams. Our start-ups will benefit from their wealth of experiences and gain value that could not be acquired from a single angel alone.

Finally, Santa Barbara is an wonderful place to start a high-technology venture - there are over 600 tech firms in the area. SBTI has great relationships with UCSB's College of Engineering and can draw on that intellectual capital. We have sunshine 300 days out of the year. And, we are becoming the a high-technology leader with the headquarters of over 30 publicly held companies right here in Santa Barbara.

BK: Finally, what advice would you give to potential entrepreneurs who would like to become part of your incubator on meeting your criteria for incubation?

DC: 1. Think your 'high-tech' idea through 2. Have specific revenue sources identified and a solid business foundation 3. Start with a brief executive summary 4. Go to our website and submit your plan

BK: Thanks!

Copyright (c) 2001 by Benjamin F. Kuo. All rights reserved.
May not be reprinted without permission.