On this episode, we speak to Bob Rief, the Executive Director of San Diego Sport Innovators, one of the top accelerator programs in the country. The program has graduated 86 companies, created nearly 550 jobs, and raised nearly $80 million in capital. Having run brands like Nike Golf, Merrell Footwear, Callaway, and Reef Sandals and many more, Bob and his network have quite a few experiences to pass on to younger generations.

In this podcast, Bob speaks about a new short film San Diego Rising launched by the San Diego Sport Innovators community and JIVA VR that sends a positive message of enjoying the outdoors with social responsibility. NBA legend Bill Walton, surf legend Rob Machado, and golf pro Tiffany Joh are featured in the film.

Podcast Highlights

4:15 – What is San Diego Sport Innovators?: “San Diego Sport Innovators is a business accelerator group that’s focused on companies that are in the San Diego lifestyle. That San Diego lifestyle, as you know, exists in many places, it doesn’t require an ocean. For instance, in Boulder or Melbourne or Sydney or Portland we have 100 companies in our group, we represent 1,200 companies in the country that are in the San Diego lifestyle. And we account for about $3.2 billion in economic activity on an annual basis and have 42,000 employees in the space.”

7:10 – Being Patient with COVID: “Let’s just be patient. Let’s listen to the compliance angel and not the defiance devil and get back to sanity here in a sane way, sane and safe.”

9:50 – San Diego Rising campaign with Bill Walton, Rob Machado and Tiffany Joh: “You can see a little bit about the spirituality behind this man [Bill Walton]. [Rob Machado] has become a great leader, certainly with his water program for schools and for his music, and surfboard manufacturing store.”


San Diego Rising Video Link

16:05 – The need to come together: “Getting outside is what our collective goal is here. The need to be outside is pretty fundamental to a large portion of the population. So we really want it. Get back outside and stay there.”

18:21 – Citizen vs residents: “There’s residents in the community and there’s citizens in the community. They’re not the same thing. A resident lives there and basically takes the benefit of what citizens do, which is assume their responsibilities for leadership in their community.”

20:15 – Getting back to the San Diego Lifestyle: “We’re just trying to provide stability and a little bit of inspiration and urging people to rise up and to resist the devil. If you can, as long as you can.”

21:17 – Advice to getting companies back on track: “So we got in touch with community bankers who could provide leadership on how to access funds. We suggested to all of our members to access funds, make it happen. If it can’t happen, call us, we will help you make it happen.”

24:05 – SDSI’s success: “We’ve matriculated now 98 companies raised, around $90 million. Those companies have about an 85% success rate. And 51% of them are female founded.”