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HEARD ON THE BEAT

Venture Capital Finding a Home in O.C.

May 13, 1997|Patrice Apodaca

Money in someone else's pocket was the Harvard conference's other big draw, however. More than half the attendees were entrepreneurs hoping to find venture capitalists to invest in their fledgling companies.

One such entrepreneur--the classic started-in-his-garage variety--is engineer Chris Nunez. He founded Garden Grove-based CenTor Software Corp. with his brother and expects $1.5 million in sales this year. But to attract venture capital, he said, they need to find professional management--another reason he was scoping out the conference.

"To raise $2 million to $4 million, they won't look at me," he said. "What they want is someone with 20 years in the industry."

Nunez might take heart in a new survey by the accounting firm Coopers & Lybrand that showed venture capital investment in Orange County businesses totaled $41.2 million in the first quarter. That was down from $63.7 million in the fourth quarter of 1996, but well above the $16.2 million raised in the year-earlier period.

More important, said Luis M. Puncel, Coopers & Lybrand's partner in charge of high-tech services in Orange County, is that venture capital activity has been increasing. "There's a lot more money coming into Orange County," he said.

Patrice Apodaca covers economic issues for The Times. She can be reached at (714) 966-5979 and at patrice.apodaca@latimes.com

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