Not only is San Diego a beautiful place to live with almost perfect weather year-round, but it’s also proving to be a major hotspot for entrepreneurs in the startup world. I recently chatted with GlobeSt.com in an interview, pointing out the many advantages of living and working in the “Millennial Capital of the US”.
From cheaper office space to the abundant talent coming out of local universities, San Diego supports an ideal setting for a thriving industry that focuses so much on the life/work balance.
Read more on GlobeSt.com!
April 8, 2014
Originally published by Hughes Marino.
It’s only fitting that one of the most creative websites in the world, Pinterest — a website that inspires millions every day with home improvement projects, recipes, workout tips, makeup lessons and more — has one of the most creative and inspiring workplaces I’ve seen in all my years in commercial real estate. Located in South of Market, San Francisco, this transformed 1938 warehouse is the epitome of tech. With exposed ceilings and steel beams, it is a great mix of the masculine nature of an industrial building with feminine accents such as marquee-style signs, colorful couches, and miniature hot air balloons hanging from the ceilings.
Read more at HughesMarino.com!
April 2, 2014
Originally published by Hughes Marino.
As we wrap up Q1, it’s time for a look at the state of the market in my area of specialization: downtown San Diego. Here’s the scoop on leasing commercial space in Class A and Class B high rises, and a hint of what to expect in Q2 if you’re hunting for space in a low-rise building as well.
Read more at HughesMarino.com!
January 7, 2014
It’s all about the little splurges in life to make it that much sweeter. A few of my favorites for the New Year are:
Fresh flowers. In my kitchen. In my bedroom. In my bathroom. Everywhere. I just love the smell and feel.
The Pioneer Woman’s home style cooking. One of my goals for 2014 is to cook one 3-course meal every two weeks. There’s no one better to learn from than Ree!
Inspirational blogs like Eric Barker’s. And inspirational posts like “8 Things The World’s Most Successful People All Have In Common.”
An “Us Weekly” magazine subscription – such a splurge! But worth every penny. There is no better way to relax than with a magazine on hand!
California getaways. I’ve been very fortunate to travel to over fifty countries (you may have seen this recent post about Panama City!), but I’m looking forward to a few weekends exploring beautiful California! Catalina, Newport Beach, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Palm Springs – I’ve got my sights set on you!
Lululemon. It took me a while to jump on the Lululemon train – but after my mom insisted I try a pair, I fell in love. It has since transformed my wardrobe and my life…I either wear work clothes or Lululemon (regardless of if I am actually exercising) at all times. Even more than their clothes, they believe in goals! And long-term thinking! If you couldn’t tell, I am a huge fan.
January 4, 2014
This winter, I had the amazing opportunity to visit Central and South America with my family – starting with Panama! I’ve learned about Panama over the years during school from a macro-perspective, focusing primarily on the economy and politics, but couldn’t have been more surprised by my experience visiting what I thought would be a very industrial city. I knew that Panama City was founded in 1519, but is really only 14 years old as of December 31, 2013 (the United States gave the Panama Canal and surrounding land back to the Panamanians on December 31, 1999). I knew that the Panamanian economy has expanded by over 50% in the past 5 years. And I knew that the canal itself is currently undergoing a $5+ billion expansion that is expected to double its capacity. What I didn’t know, or expect, was that this trade-focused city would be a beautiful, picturesque, modern city by the sea, clad with dozens and dozens of beautiful, cutting-edge high-rises directly on the water.
We only spent two nights in Panama, with one full day dedicated to exploring the city, and got an amazing vibe from the city, the people, and the culture, even in such a short amount of time!
We had a great private car tour of the city with PBA Tours (Panama Holding Group). Their team is the go-to travel company in Panama (they just toured Usher through Panama City a few weeks ago!). They can arrange your tour – or they will take you on a customized tour to your liking.
what to see
1) The Panama Canal – this is of course a must when in Panama! I was blown away by the mechanics of the canal. We visited as a large cargo ship was entering the canal, so we were able to witness firsthand the use of the lock system to feed the ships through the canal as smoothly as possible.
2) Ancon Hill – Ancon Hill is the highest elevation point in the city and offers a spectacular panoramic view of the canal, beaches, high rises, and Casco Viejo! This was a highlight for us.
3) Puente de Las Americas – this is the unofficial dividing line between North America and South America. Very cool!
4) BioMuseo – scheduled to open in April 2014, this is Frank Gehry’s first and only masterpiece in Latin America.
5) Casco Viejo – Casco Viejo is the “old town” of Panama City. We drove through the town admiring the French-inspired architecture! Fun Fact: Quantum of Solace (James Bond) was filmed here!
where to stay
The Trump Ocean Club, Panama City is a multi-use high-rise and architectural masterpiece featuring high-end residences, a luxury hotel, restaurants, meeting facilities, and more. It is currently the largest and tallest building in Latin America (rising 70 stories) and is only a few years old. It’s in one of the nicest neighborhoods in Panama City with nearly panoramic ocean views from all rooms. If traveling with family, the one major issue to consider is that the majority of the rooms and suites offer little privacy for families. The layout is very open – so open that the bathroom is completely open to the rest of the living area and bedroom. The Trump Residences, on the other hand, have a much more family-friendly layout with bathrooms that are separated from the main living area.
where to eat
The restaurants at the Trump Ocean Club are fantastic – and the hotel has a variety of cuisines too! From sushi, to grilled fish, to hamburgers, to tapas, you can find it all in this one location. We ate all of our meals at the hotel and thoroughly enjoyed them! One recommendation: the sloppy joe at Azul. There’s nothing like American comfort food in Panama City!
how long to stay
We had one full day to explore the city – and for our fast-paced style of travel, that was the perfect amount of time.
January 1, 2014
Happy 2014 all!
The one thing that excites me most about new year’s (besides my brother’s birthday…and my hopeful aspirations of more consistent workouts and healthy eating) is goal-setting.
Since I was 10 years old, I’ve been an avid goal setter…and every year, for the past 13 new years, I’ve typed my goals for the year, printed them up, and stuffed them into my “New Year’s Tin,” featured below (as well as kept a pocket-size copy to carry with me to school…college…graduate school…and now to work).
Goals have always helped me stay focused. They give me direction, intention, and purpose. Whether my goal was to finish building and decorating my very realistic doll house (yes, I did go through this phase…and yes, it had electricity) at thirteen years old or to graduate college with a 4.0 GPA at nineteen years old, I knew where I wanted to be by the end of the year – and I lived each day working towards achieving that vision. Awfully serious for a ten year-old, right?
One thing that I’ve noticed since I joined the full-time working world two years ago is that it is much more difficult to accomplish meaningful, impactful, important goals in just one single year. Buying a house, getting a big promotion, changing career paths, going back to school…all of those big, potentially life-changing goals require more than just one year to accomplish!
This year, I’ve decided to try something new.
Three-year goals AND a one-year checklist.
I want to think big – and the opportunities are boundless over the next three years of my life. I couldn’t be more excited to see where they take me. But I still want to get a few more manageable accomplishments under my belt – like a bathroom remodel – so stay tuned for updates!
Happy New Year. And happy goal-setting!
December 9, 2013
Irvine Co.’s high-rises are ‘cool,’ even for Gen Yers.
By Roger Showley
Startup companies supposedly go from garages to grungy but “cool” brick warehouse lofts, thumbing their noses at sleek high-rises filled with button-down lawyers and accountants.
Well, the Irvine Company, the big owner and manager of big high-rises all over Southern California, isn’t caving to brick chic.
It operates 115 “ReadyNow” office suites in San Diego County in the very same office towers Generation Y whiz kids’ parents might frequent.
Instead of gutting the offices and letting them stand bare until a new tenant comes by, the Irvine Co. began cutting them up into 2,000-3,000-square-foot suites featuring open space plans, sleek furnishings and fancy kitchenettes.
Then when startup CEOs are ready to move out of the garage and into a real office space, they can set up shop within days and not have cool their computer jets for six months until tenant improvements are completed.
“Business was evolving in that time period,” added Nelson Ackerly. The Irvine Co.’s leasing manager for San Diego,
CEOs were asking how to maximize internal communication and collaboration and drive employee attraction and retention.
Through careful space planning, the suites can fit most tenants’ needs. Rachael Brown, an Irvine Co. leasing manager who helps tenants figure out their office needs, said ReadyNow suites can be occupied almost immediately.
“We can move them in within a week,” she said. “There are many ways we can get the customer turnaround very quickly.”
Of course, sometimes the drive to be trendy with the latest color schemes stretches tenant tastes.
“Sometimes we get creative with our color scheme,” Ackerly said. “A guy comes in and says, ‘I don’t even know what chartreuse is.’ (It’s yellow/pale-green.) You don’t always hit it perfectly.”
As for generational differences, he said bosses sometimes love the upgraded finishes and open offices as much or more so than their young hirelings.
“They absolutely love these spaces and realize what they can do for them,” he said.
In a tour of several downtown ReadyNow locations, Ackerly and Brown showed off AmeriCapital Commercial’s 3,100-square-foot space on the 23rd floor of Symphony Towers.
“They make the best kitchens,” commented AmeriCapital President John Estefanos.
Interlaced, a Apple-based cloud computing company, occupies 1,700 square feet on the seventh floor of the 501 W. Broadway building, formerly called the Koll Center. Its seven employees enjoy sweeping city views, prefurnished spaces and proximity to an onsite athletic club with outdoor pool.
On the same floor is SKT Marketing, another high-tech company that handles e-mailing marketing and customer lead generation for insurance companies, coupon websites, travel-deal websites and other advertisers.
Brandon Aldridge, cofounder with fellow Georgia Tech alumnus Ballard Johnson, said they sought an open-office concept and did consider warehouse and historic warehouse spaces elsewhere downtown.
“The buildings were really cool — brick and really open — but they didn’t work for us,” Aldridge said. “They were way too big or something was off about them. The price wasn’t right. They were more expensive per square foot. I think we really focused on what was functional as opposed to what was cool.”
He said he and Johnson and their two employees keep their attention focused on their computer screens and don’t yet have to impress visitors, or amuse themselves with frills that appeal to younger workers just out of college.
“There’s no real need for us to have a cool pool table or video games,” said Aldridge, 32. “That stuff is cool but for us, that was not the top priority.”
They pay $3,500 per month for the 1,700-square-foot space that they furnished themselves; they also painted one wall with a surface suitable for dry-erase white board markers.
The fully outfitted kitchen was a bonus.
“I thought it would be something basic, not stainless steel appliances,” he said. “This was definitely a plus. They definitely beat our expectations.”
Working with Hughes Marino leasing agent Star Hughes, Aldridge and Johnson negotiated something more important — a two-year lease with a third-year option and the ability to move to another Irvine space if growth outpaces expectations.
“In case we’re booming with 20 people in here, we’ll need a new office and we have the option to do so,” Aldridge said.
Ackerly said ReadyNow rental rates aren’t that much different from standard office suites, since in both cases tenant improvement allowances or built-in features are factored into the base rent. (Hughes said all things being equal, ReadyNows tend to be slightly more affordable.)
Hughes said other office landlords also are outfitting offices in anticipation of quick leasing needs of growing companies.
“It’s a popular trend because a lot of these companies, specifically more creative tech companies, need to get in fast,” Hughes said. “They need space in a month and you can’t build out a space that quickly.”
It’s also a smart move on the part of landlords, she said.
“The market is tightening in the Class A buildings,” she said, referring to the top tier in the market.
But there’s still 2 million square feet vacant downtown, nearly 20 percent of the total, and tenants remain in the driver’s seat in many cases. No new speculative office towers have broken ground in the central business district, though several have gained regulatory approval.
“The problem is the market isn’t quite there to justify $4 to $5 per square foot (monthly rents), when we’re still doing deals in the $1.80 range.”
October 28, 2013
By Katherine Poythress, featured in the U~T San Diego
National entrepreneurial activity is at its highest level since the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor began tracking it in 1999, but how does San Diego stack up?
San Diego is a long way from catching up to Silicon Valley. But while business name filings seem to indicate a dip in entrepreneurship, tech industry statistics and venture funding data paint a picture of a region establishing itself as a destination for people wanting to try new ideas.
The latest data from the regional CONNECT program, released in its 2012 Innovation Report, showed a 67 percent increase in software startups last year from the year before, with 230 created in the first three quarters alone, generating nearly 800 jobs with an average salary of about $112,000.
Those data are just for the technology and life sciences sectors. And while there’s little other research quantifying activity to make new business ideas happen here, the amount of venture funding poured into the region is a good indicator, said Mark Cafferty, CEO of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation.
San Diego companies from all sectors raked in $957 million in venture capital in the first three quarters of last year, according to a MoneyTree Report by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, ranking 10th among the 18 regions studied. In a more detailed report compiled by the Martin Prosperity Institute, San Diego ranked sixth among the top 20 locations for venture capital investment last year, with $1.1 billion funding 103 deals.
That accounted for about 4 percent of the total in VC funding for the 20 locations. Los Angeles was just ahead of San Diego, with $1.6 billion in venture funding for local firms, or 6 percent of the total. Meanwhile, companies in San Francisco and San Jose collected $6.9 billion, or about 26 percent of the total VC funding for 744 deals last year.
Aside from these disparate criteria, nobody is doing comprehensive measurements of San Diego’s entrepreneurial community at large.
The closest comprehensive measure is the number of fictitious business names filed with the San Diego County Recorder’s Office. Data from that office show that the number of new businesses has in fact dropped significantly since 2006, from 42,403 that year to 32,598 in 2012—a plunge of about 24 percent.
But people in and around the entrepreneurship community have anecdotes that they believe indicate more innovation is actually happening than ever before.
Serial entrepreneur and startup mentor Ray Hivoral says he sees an impressive amount of new business ideas in virtually every industry, from biotech to sports and fashion.
“We have an international airport, we have Mexico, we have the military, we have tech, biotech, craft beer and we have hospitality,” he said. “So yes, there are a lot of entrepreneurs. There’s more of a movement than there was before. Even the colleges are pushing it more than before.”
He gauges entrepreneurial activity among San Diegans based on their attendance at startup-related events. The events abound these days, with four Startup Weekends this year alone, the second annual Entrepreneur Day that drew 5,000 attendees in September and more recently, the 2013 World’s Best Technologies Innovation Marketplace, which was held here this week.
Meanwhile, Hivoral’s San Diego Entrepreneur meetup group has grown from 41 attendees in 2011 to more than 1,600 today.
Organizations like the Entrepreneur Center, CONNECT, SD Tech Founders and the San Diego Entrepreneurs Exchange, along with startup-related meetup groups, contribute to a climate that fosters self-employment, Hivoral said.
Star Hughes, a director at Hughes Marino, negotiates commercial leases on behalf of tenants wanting to move downtown, and she has seen a noticeable increase in startups seeking office space in the last year or two. Meanwhile, several coworking spaces, accelerators and incubators are popping up.
“There have been probably 10 tech startups come out of their homes just in the last three or four months,” Hughes said. “Downtown has become a much more vibrant community in the past year or so because of how many tech startups have moved here. They constantly bring these great events, networking opportunities, and just a lot more life to these traditional high-rises that have been dominated by law firms and financial institutions.”
Olivier Baudoux, founder of San Diego-based DrivAd, moved here from Santa Clara where he held executive-level positions with technology companies. He sees some encouraging signs that indicate an increased interest in innovation and entrepreneurship, he said, including a number of incubators and the CONNECT program, where he is a mentor.
Still, he is skeptical about how widespread entrepreneurial activity is in San Diego. Right now, the Silicon Valley veteran sees the area as a great place to live with a family, but not necessarily the best place to build a company.
“I think it’s such a long way from getting to where Silicon Valley is,” Baudoux said. “It’s harder to find talent and very hard to find capital, especially if you’re not in bio or the pharma industry. A company like mine has to try very hard to get attention from VC investors. It’s hard for even me, who has worked for multibillion-dollar companies.”
Both Baudoux and Hivoral believe more could be done to throw fuel on the fire of the entrepreneurial spirit here.
Hivoral suggests the city of San Diego offer up real estate in some of its blighted areas to serve as coworking space, a solution he believes would both create an economic stimulus in those difficult areas, and provide greater support for innovation.
Baudoux said that could be a game changer in pushing the local innovation economy forward.
“We need more coworking space in San Diego,” Hivoral said. “It allows all the entrepreneurs to gather and meet, to work outside of their house and get out of their silos. When they feel like they’re not alone, they’re more motivated to take on the duty of becoming an entrepreneur and actually doing it instead of just thinking about it.”
October 8, 2013
Originally Published on the Hughes Marino Blog
By Ashley Lewis
At Hughes Marino we are fortunate to have some amazing talent on our team, and we are honored when that talent is recognized by the community. Usually it’s our COO, Shay Hughes, who writes words of congratulations on the blog, but today it’s my privilege to give a shout out not only to Shay, but also to her daughter Star Hughes, who have both been named as finalists for the San Diego Business Journal’s 20th Annual Women Who Mean Business Awards!
Anyone in our office will tell you that Shay and Star are two of the hardest working people on our team, and that this mother and daughter duo has played a huge role in the success of our company. From Shay’s transformation of our corporate culture to Star’s turbo-charged contribution to our downtown San Diego brokerage team, these two remarkable women exemplify the commitment to excellence that has made Hughes Marino a leader in our industry.
The Women Who Mean Business Awards recognizes women who have a made a difference in the workplace and the community and have served as role models for other women and young girls. Now in its 20th year, this award has been given to a long line of outstanding female leaders in San Diego, and the Hughes women are honored to be counted among them.
Please join me in saying congratulations to Shay and Star! We’re incredibly proud of you, and grateful for all that you’ve done for this company.
September 25, 2013
Originally Published in the San Diego Daily Transcript
When I was younger, I resisted becoming a feminist for all the wrong reasons. I was afraid people, including my male classmates in high school and college, would see me as an angry militant “man hater.” Anyone who knows me knows that’s not true at all.
Later, after earning undergraduate and master’s degrees in business and joining the male-dominated world of commercial real estate as a licensed broker, it became immediately apparent to me that there was a need for more equality and balance between genders in the work force.
Only then did I realize these attributes had long been feminist core values. Seeing first-hand the inequities, I shed my earlier fears and began referring to myself as a feminist. Since then, I’ve looked for ways to own the title.
That quest has included seeking out other self-empowered women who are equally committed to cultural progress as I am. I found such women beyond what had been the traditional boundaries of my business. What stood out to me as an organization firmly committed to raising the status of professional women is the Lawyers Club of San Diego.
Keep in mind, I am a commercial real estate broker — not a lawyer. I don’t have much of a legal background other than the basic tenets I need to know in my business and a three-week stint in law school. And so, Lawyers Club seemed at first an unnatural fit for me. I was soon to discover that nothing was further from the truth.
What I joined is a group of incredibly accomplished women and men (17 to 20 percent of Lawyers Club’s members are men), well-credentialed and successful, who come together to support the mission to advance the status of women in the law and society. These women and men volunteer their valuable time and talents for the mission while taking care of their families and themselves. In short, they practice what they preach.
What is it they preach? Who better to explain the mission and work of the Lawyers Club than its newly elected president, Johanna Schiavoni? A long-time advocate of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Johanna is empowering members to “reach out, reach up and reach back.”
“We have to reach out – to women, to men, to those within the legal community and beyond,” Schiavoni begins. “To build power, we must collaborate, network, make ourselves visible and our voices heard. To have power, we must take power. We have to reach up – we cannot stay anchored in our comfort zone. Instead, groups like Lawyers Club should help us springboard to the next thing. We have to reach back – we must work to mentor the next generation of leaders who will advance our mission. By pushing ourselves and bringing others along, we advance our mission.”
That said, there’s much more to Lawyers Club than its written mandate. Among its many member benefits, Lawyers Club stages a series of relevant educational and inspirational events, such as “Developing your professional vision: What would you do if you could not fail?” “Balancing across the legal professional: From having it all to leaning in,” and “Work-life balance and the realities of being a lawyer in the 21st century,” These and other such topics can make a positive difference in the professional and personal lives of thousands of women, including mine.
Lawyers Club’s Professional Advancement Committee (PAC) addresses its namesake in a smaller group within Lawyers Club’s 1,200-plus members. PAC presents cutting-edge programs to inspire and equip female lawyers to succeed at the highest levels of the legal profession through innovative training, networking and professional growth opportunities.
Recent PAC programs, include, “Increase Your Visibility: How to Enhance Current Client Relationships and Build New Ones,” and “How to Leverage Self-Evaluations for Professional Advancement.” Beyond planning these programs, PAC’s monthly meetings include discussions of professional advancement topics with accomplished members of the legal community, networking with other like-minded, highly motivated individuals, and discussions of professional and motivational literature, including this quarter’s book selection, “Lean In,” by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer.
Spearheaded by Shalini Kedia and Cassandra Hearn, the PAC couldn’t have better leadership. Both women head their own practices, mediation and criminal defense respectively, and both have the talent to bring together a diverse group of women from all areas of law, not to mention those of us from other industries, into a cohesive, highly functional group.
“The success of PAC programs is directly attributable to the members who comprise the committee and the leaders in our industry who step up to support the Lawyers Club mission,” Kedia said.
So, how does all this benefit others who may or may not be a lawyer or a woman? Glad you asked.
First of all, Lawyers Club’s mission and goals are not proprietary; they are universal and extend well beyond its membership into society. It takes the entire community to fulfill Lawyers Club’s mission to advance the status of women in the law and society. We all have a stake in achieving gender equality and balance if we’re to live in a society where everybody has the full potential to succeed and contribute.
Then there’s our future. I, for one, believe Lawyers Club’s commitment to reach back to our young people will result in a future generation of lawyers who can and will make a difference in tomorrow’s world. That begins with educating our society so that future high school and college coeds, both women and men, can proudly don the feminist label and know that it stands for equality.
For more information on Lawyers Club of San Diego, please visit www.lawyersclubsandiego.com.
This op-ed originally appeared in the San Diego Daily Transcript.
- enjoy the journey
- fifty countries and counting
- good clean living
- martha in the making
- southern california living
- working girl under thirty