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.”
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