Former California Insurance Commission Steve Poizner has joined UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management as its inaugural entrepreneur in residence.
Poizner founded three high tech start-ups in Silicon Valley between stints as a politician. Two of his companies were acquired by Qualcomm, which brought Poizner to San Diego.
Since he left Qualcomm in January, Poizner has been working with start-up incubator EvoNexus to select companies for admission and mentor those that are already there.
As entrepreneur in residence, Poizner will work with students in UCSD’s Lab to Market courses, as well as support students and alumni involved in mystartupXX and StartR accelerator and incubator programs. He will hold office hours to mentor students.
“One thing about the UCSD business school, it’s a startup itself,” said Poizner in an interview. “It’s only been around for a little over 10 years, which is not long in the business school world. If you look at their mission statement, they zero right in on training world-class entrepreneurs with a focus on innovation and startups.”
Poizner’s first company was Strategic Mapping, an electronic desktop mapping outfit. That was followed by SnapTrack, which put GPS receivers in cell phones and was acquired by Qualcomm.
Later, Poizner founded EmpoweredU, a technology platform to help schools and universities bring mobile technology into the classroom. Qualcomm also acquired EmpoweredU in 2014.
Poizner was the senior vice president of emerging businesses at Qualcomm for two years after the acquisition, managing about a dozen young companies inside the wireless technology giant. He left earlier this year and began discussions with UCSD.
“Steve Poizner is an exceptional entrepreneur who will bring valuable insights to Rady School students,” said Rady School Dean Robert S. Sullivan. “We are privileged to have such an experienced and successful leader as the Rady School’s first Entrepreneur in Residence.”
Poizner was California Insurance Commissioner from 2007-2011. He was a White House Fellow from 2001-2002, working in the National Security Council Office of Cyberspace Security with a focus on infrastructure protection. He also volunteered as a high school teacher at a low-income public high school and wrote a book about the experience.
Poizner committed to serve as entrepreneur in residence through the fall quarter but is open to continuing in the role, he said. In addition to founding and running his own startups, Poizner has been an angel investor and board member of other young firms.
“There is nothing like having that hands on, in the trenches experience,” he said, “worrying about making payroll next week, having to raise venture capital. I am proud to be their first entrepreneur in residence.”