Editorial Intern- Tampa Bay Business Journal
ST. PETERSBURG – It’s the eve of Startup Weekend, a 54-hour event where developers, designers and business development people come together to pitch an idea and launch a business, all in one weekend.
It provides opportunities to test startup ideas, meet potential co-founders, and develop the entrepreneurial community in Tampa Bay.
The gap from startup to thriving business can be an enormous chasm without money.
While there has been a lot of progress in the last few years, Tampa Bay entrepreneurs, startups and incubators have had to sustain their businesses with little venture capital funding.
This year’s Florida Venture Forum Early Stage Venture Capital conference in Orlando in May featured companies from all over Florida and provided some hopeful signs in the form of high-quality presenters, said Tim Cartwright, chairman of the Tamiami Angel Fund. The conference was full.
The Tamiami Angel Fund invested in one of the startups at the event, Fort Lauderdale-based 71 Pounds, in February. The fund is currently in due diligence with another attendee. Tampa is important when it comes to his fund’s deal flow, he said. While he is yet to make investments in Tampa startups, 93 of the 454 Florida proposals the fund has received have come from Tampa.
Two Tampa companies stood out: KiteDesk and Innovatia Medical Systems, both of whom presented at the conference. KiteDesk is currently finalizing an application for funding from the Tamiami Angel Fund, he said.
Entrepreneur David Etheredge has received funding from three investors, including two in the Tampa Bay area, since his company SavvyCard joined Tampa Bay WaVE’s FirstWaVe incubator in March, but cannot reveal their names. WaVE is a non-profit organization that provides members with networking opportunities and workshops.
Many investors keep their names hidden because they do not want to receive hundreds of proposals for funding, Etheredge said.
Being a successful entrepreneur involves networking, said Etheredge. Most startups assume their ideas are so brilliant that investors will seek them out.
“Maybe that happens in the movies,” Etheredge said, “but for the vast majority of startups, nothing could be further from the truth.”
Almost as important is attitude.
Those aspiring for funding should not carry a defeatist attitude despite the lack of venture capital, Joy Randels, a Sarasota entrepreneur, said.
“We have challenges here, but we have to stop whining and crying about the fact that we don’t have any [venture capital] money,” Randels said in a presentation at this year’s Ignite Tampa Bay. “Go and build a product, invent a product and the money will come.”
For the complete article:
By Nancy Dahlberg
With interest in early-stage investing heating up, more than 200 investors, entrepreneurs and service providers came together last week for the Florida Venture Forum’s Early-Stage Conference in the Orlando area. Eighteen startup companies presented at the conference at the Reunion Resort, including five with medical devices, biotech products and health-tech applications, and four with solutions for the bar and restaurant industry. Presenting from South Florida: Arctico, a company offering purified ice in patented single-serving, tamper proof containers; Bookigee, which creates a new breed of tools and analytics for the book publishing industry; LearnerNation!, a cloud-based learning platform in the hot education-tech space (pictured below); Maxx Technologies, which saves bars money in liquor “shrinkage”; and 71lbs.com, a "set-and-forget, then collect" system for small businesses to easily collect unclaimed shipping refunds. Also exhibiting at the conference: spendLO, a name-your-price platform for services. Most of the companies were trying to raise funding of $750,000 to $2 million, some more.
Their goal: Turn the heads of a few investors and hopefully score a follow-up meeting or two.
The Florida Venture Forum, the state's oldest and largest statewide support group for venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, said it was a record attendance for the Early-Stage Conference, now in its sixth year. For many of the attendees -- VC members who don't typically invest in early-stage companies -- it was an opportunity to view what's in the pipeline and make connections.
For angel investor attendees, it was all that -- plus potential opportunities now.
“I was impressed with the presentations, and they seem to get stronger every year,” said Tim Cartwright, chairman of Tamiami Angel Fund I. In the last year, the fund has made six investments, generally $250K to $1 million, including into 71lbs.com, he said. “More than likely we’ll invite one if not two of the companies to present to our fund.”
Cartwright said he’s seeing a dramatic increase in the number of education-technology business plans, and there were some resenting Wednesday, including Miami's LearnerNation! In the next week, Tamiami Angel Fund will be closing on an investment in Via Response, an Orlando ed-tech company, he said. Tamiami Angels, with 40 members, provides deal flow analytical graphs on its website, www.tamiamiangels.com (under resources), which show a clear spike in the last year. The single most active area is South Florida, he said, noting that nearly a third of the deals his group has looked at are from this region.
“We’ve never seen the quality of deals we are seeing now, companies with revenue, teams that are almost complete -- it’s a great time to be an angel investor,” added Rhys Williams, president of New World Angels, a group of 38 members whose latest investment was Bioceptive. “We have two term sheets out right now and may issue a third shortly, and that hasn’t happened in
a very long time. That speaks to the quality of the deal flow we’re seeing and that our members are very engaged.”
To kick off the event, winning teams from eight universities faced off for the Florida Venture Forum's annual collegiate competition. That included Chill-N Ice Cream, a team from University of Miami’s Launch Pad program that has seen steady, steep revenue increases at its first store in Pinecrest and is actively looking for sites for its second and third locations now. Winning the collegiate competition was a team from Florida Gulf Coast University for a company called AquaRamp.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/05/19/3405301/startups-take-the-stage-at-statewide.html