Peter Polydor – entrepreneur, tech investor, and Eureka Building founder – was involved in his first payroll at 13 years old when his entrepreneurial father taught him how to manage a business and people. “It was a great experience growing up and having that exposure to different businesses,” said Polydor. The Toronto native’s initial experience building and selling a web services company led him to focus on the tech and cleantech industries. His liberal arts education at Occidental College in Los Angeles was filled with courses from biology to economics to international law in an effort to ensure he could speak the language of engineers and techies. “I have always wanted to build and create something,” said Polydor, who has focused on the venture capital side for the past six years to invest in entrepreneurs. “I’ve always wanted to help the entrepreneurial community wherever I was. I love helping entrepreneurs create companies that augment people’s lives. That’s been a lot of my motivation as to why I wanted to get into the VC investment industry and also one of the big reasons why I wanted to do the Eureka project.” The Eureka Building is the 41,000 square foot, three-acre brainchild of Polydor that will launch in Irvine by the end of 2013. The mission of the Eureka hub is be a resource for the entrepreneurial and creative community in Orange County to help foster innovation. Members go through a simple application process and pay a flat rate membership fee. The hub, in partnership with OCTANe, will also partner with Canadian companies to accelerate their early growth and leverage Orange County’s unique networks and resources. Polydor says the all-inclusive co-working space has something for everyone: entrepreneurs trying to build something, small to medium enterprises looking to innovate their businesses, and established tech giants and organizations that need a venue to host events. It took Polydor about a year to find the creative structure he was looking for in the former aerospace company’s office building that is now Eureka. “It was already cool and creative. All we did was renovate and revamp and reposition it so it’s a resource for the tech community. People want to be excited to show up to their office where they work and be happy,” said Polydor
On what brought Polydor to Orange County, the founder said he had the opportunity right out of college to work almost four years as vice president with SAIL Capital Partners, a cleantech firm he initially connected with while doing research on how the private sector can benefit from the public sector through investments in new technologies, companies, and cleantech opportunities. Polydor was drawn to cleantech because it focuses on three things everyone needs and uses: water, food, and energy – and how we can get to the same goals by using less resources. “SAIL itself was one of the pioneers in the cleantech industry. I was very fortunate to get linked up with them,” said Polydor.
The accomplished entrepreneur shared some of his wisdom and top recommended resources for startups:
Find and surround yourself with the right people.
If you’re lucky enough to work with people that love what they do, that’s always amazing. That’s fantastic because when you love what you do, you pay more attention and go that extra mile. It’s not easy. When you’re starting your own company, your own firm, your own project, the problem is the ball starts and stops with you usually. Whatever I’m doing, if I’m growing my business for instance, I need to find people that are more excited, more passionate, and more confident, meaning smarter than me at doing what they’re doing. You always want to be at the bottom of the totem pole because you’ll have the opportunity to learn from others and build something great.
Connect with organizations that allow you to accelerate your network.
You gain from the experience and knowledge of other people, especially advisors. Learning from other people’s mistakes is always cheaper than making your own and having to learn from them. I was fortunate that I was always surrounded by good mentors and had access to good advisors. In Orange County, if you’ve got a company and you’re looking to build it, OCTANe’s one of the best organizations around. They have great events, great learning opportunities, and a huge annual conference called “VC in the OC” that draws big crowds, people from outside of Orange County, and VCs from all over.
Additional recommended resources for startups
- Startup Weekend
- Startup Grind – Startup Weekend and Startup Grind are great for when you’ve got an idea and you don’t know how to develop it.
- Meetup – great resource to find out what other organizations are in your area and what they’re up to
- OCTANe events, a number of which will be hosted at Eureka hub