SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – Connect Announces the Launch of the TL Foundation Fund, with an Evergreen Fund to Support the San Diego Innovation Economy
This is a unique accelerator investment fund. It’s never been done, no other region has anything like it. It is designed to be philanthropic, with the goal of building a better San Diego for future generations – into perpetuity.
The TL Fund (https://www.tlfund.org) will invest in local startups, with all future returns directed right back into the regional community. It’s investing in San Diego’s innovation community now, to support San Diego’s economic future. Whereas most venture funds are designed to make the managing partners and investors wealthy, this fund is designed to continually redistribute its returns back into the San Diego economy and our communities.
The new fund is the brainchild of Connect, a local nonprofit organization that has propelled San Diego into the limelight as a global innovation hub. The fund is guided by local San Diego tech and life science leaders, and will collaborate alongside Connect. Beginning this year, the TL Fund is committed to investing $500,000 into five local startups ($100k per company). The Foundation is continuing to raise funds, with the goal of additional investment well into the future.
Investment terms will be “founder friendly and straightforward,” says TL Fund CEO, Mike Krenn, who is also the CEO of Connect. The Fund includes one employee, Dave Titus, a former venture capitalist who has a long history of investing in San Diego as the founder of Windward Ventures.
What makes the TL Foundation so unique is that no one involved in the fund is taking a carry (typically 20% of the profits off the top), and the fund has no management fee (typically 2% of funds under management). Krenn is taking zero salary, and no ownership percentage for his leadership role. That means nearly 100% of the returns will go right back into the investment fund and back into San Diego.
Krenn, a long-time leader in San Diego’s innovation ecosystem, shared a long term vision. “Imagine us investing in 20 startups per year, with all returns going right back into the Foundation. A $15M fund becomes $100 million over time, and then $300 million and so on. All of that money gets reinvested back into the local economy – and not just into startups, but across the community. Our independent board is there to oversee our ultimate goal, which is to create economic opportunity for generations to come, for all families, across all of San Diego. There’s never been anything like this.”
The inspiration for the TL Foundation came from understanding the history of Connect and San Diego. “Everyone in San Diego has benefited from the generous philanthropy of a handful of individuals,” said Krenn. “People like Buzz Wooley, Malin Burnham, Irwin Jacobs, Ernest Rady, Conrad Prebys and David Hale. They largely created the San Diego we love. We need to inspire the next generation of leaders in their likeness.”
“Nonprofits designed to support economic opportunity are really hard,” Krenn continued. “We’re just not high on philanthropic radars. Yet what we do, building a strong diverse economy, is foundational to the region’s future.”
In 2024, the fund is aligned with Connect’s Cool Companies program – which attracts more than 100 venture capitalists to San Diego. To apply, details can be found on Connect’s website – connect.org. Applications are open through mid February. This year, for the first time ever, the TL Fund will select five of those companies to receive investments.
Krenn noted that this is for San Diego, by San Diegans. Connect has been approached by numerous outside accelerators, seeking San Diego deal flow. “We’ve gone from a one billion market to a five billion market. We are the number five venture market in the country. Investing in San Diego is a good business,” said Krenn, “Pile on that very few accelerators have the successful reputation of Connect, helping their companies raise follow-on funding. We are uniquely positioned to do this and do it well. We are currently helping investors, where financial returns leave our community. We have a unique opportunity to change that – to recycle that money back into our local community. Who does that – only San Diego. No one else. We are on a quest to build the best inclusive innovation ecosystem on the planet.”
Building a Better San Diego For Future Generations
This is the TL Foundation: A testament to the enduring spirit of San Diego’s entrepreneurial leadership and commitment to community. We are not just supporting projects; we are investing in the future, the ideas, and the people that will shape our tomorrow. We are building the best inclusive innovation ecosystem on the planet.