Venture capitalist David Cremin, 44, is co-owner of the two-year-old Santa Barbara--based firm DFJ Frontier Fund, which has invested around $25 million in several emerging companies. Among them is Poway's OnTech Delaware, Inc., which makes self-heating food containers, soon to hit the market. "It's going to make the microwave obsolete," says Cremin.
In 1989 Cremin played keyboards for the pseudo-metal band Baton Rouge, who hit the charts with "Walks Like a Woman." The onetime engineering student at University of Connecticut, Stamford, was dumped by the band in 1990. He promptly formed a digital music company, Vis-a-Vis Entertainment, which he sold in 1998 to BMG Music Publishing, providing him with capital. Cremin founded the investment fund with two other partners. Together they raised $25 million in cash commitments from wealthy individuals and institutions, including the California Public Employees' Retirement System. DFJ Frontier has done well, reviewing around 1000 pitches a year and funding around a half dozen, allotting $300,000 to $500,000 per investment.
The food canisters produced by OnTech use an inner container filled with calcium oxide to heat edibles upon activation. They will be introduced to the market at Kroger Co. stores in January. According to the DFJ website, a Fortune article this month (12/13) writes, "The best recent packaging innovation is the self-heating plastic containers that encase Wolfgang Puck's new coffee drinks. At the press of a button, calcium oxide and water in a self-contained core react to heat the coffee to 145 degrees in six to eight minutes. The drink stays hot for half an hour."
Cremin says his new endeavors provide more security than rock and roll. "A lot of people can write songs and record them, but how can you tell who's going to sell?" he asks. "However, no one else can make self-heating food packaging that really works.... [OnTech] will turn a profit from the first quarter."