The Story of the South Bay Entrepreneurial Center

The South Bay Entrepreneurial Center was formed as a public-benefit corporation in 2011 by a group of civic and business leaders in Torrance and the South Bay. The original founders of the SBEC, Mike Grimshaw and Lee Petillon, wanted to create an environment where founders and companies could gain knowledge and support to build lasting businesses.

Our purpose is to assist startups and emerging growth companies by providing education, resources, physical plant, networking, coaching, mentoring, funding avenues and a supportive collaborative environment – to nurture and grow ideas into reality.

Our seasoned mentor team of professionals, first-class physical facilities and diversified training & advising programs will give the entrepreneurs a strong foundation to launch their organizations and feel confident that they will have an excellent opportunity to be successful.

The success of these new companies will contribute to the growth of the South Bay’s economy, creating jobs and strengthening the infrastructure for economic development.


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Meet the amazing veteran business leaders who help our startup program.

Board of Directors

Get to know the SBEC leadership team our Board of Directors, who guide the overall direction of the Center.

In Memory of Lee Petillon

Lee Petillon: SBEC Co-FounderThe SBEC mourns the passing of our Co-founder and Past Chairman of the Board, Lee Petillon. Lee passed away January 26, 2013 at the age of 84. The SBEC considers Lee a great friend and visionary; he was an accomplished attorney, a caring mentor, prolific author, and a true advocate for early stage start-ups and entrepreneurs.

In the 1990s, Lee and a group of local professional business people (attorneys, CPAs, government leaders, etc.), raised seed funding to build the South Bay Science Foundation as a local business incubator and center for technology entrepreneurship. Due to funding constraints and lack of corporate sponsorships, the center did not progress into the projected facilities but remains in existence as a virtual center.

In 2009, Mike Grimshaw, Lee’s SBEC co-founder, established the South Bay Maverick Angels. During one of their monthly meetings, Mike met Lee Petillon, who shared a similar passion for entrepreneurship; Lee became a sponsor for the group. Over the next few years, Lee and Mike sought the volunteer help of business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, educators and government officials. The combined effort and seed funding was the foundation of The South Bay Entrepreneurial Center. As Chairman, Lee was a tremendous inspiration and motivator.

Lee’s legacy continues through the lives and businesses he touched.