Despite my time off the grid for the holidays it was hard to miss some of the buzz around the recently announced Florida Opportunity Fund. It didn’t hurt that I’ve been following the topic closely for the last year — you can imagine it’s close to my heart. The origin of the Florida Opportunity Fund stems from legislative action in 2007 creating roughly $30M of capital focused on in-state early-stage venture capital: 2008->Chapter%20288->Part%20X”>The Florida Capital Formation Act.
by Dan Rua…just a VC, living vicariously thru entrepreneurs…
Category Archives: florida venture capital
Matt Winn has executed on a mashup idea I’ve had for some time: a VC database, searchable by keyword, partner, location and assets under management. He even has the option of searching for VCs who blog. I’m not sure how he’s accessing the data (scraping NVCA, BOSS, ?) and some of it needs some scrubbing, but the resulting mashup is another great step behind the curtain of raising venture capital.
I really like what Matt’s created and want to encourage/support the “entrepreneur friendly” ecosystem he’s trying to create. Give Matt’s VCDB a spin and help make it better…great job Matt!
Phil Leigh of Inside Digital Media caught me at the Florida Venture Capital Conference and we sat down to discuss the state of Florida entrepreneurship and venture capital. While at the same conference, Phil also sat down with David Bayer, co-founder of Inflexion portfolio company Databanq Media. I’ve included both videos below.
I’ve been following Phil’s broadcasts since we met and I’m impressed with the stream of interviews he puts together. His topics are timely and his videos feel more like talking to a colleague than a typical news/magazine interview. Enjoy!
The following companies were selected to present at the 2008 Florida Venture Capital Conference. I was on this year’s selection committee and have to say the competition was fierce. Congrats to all those who made it through — you deserve it!
2008 CONFERENCE PRESENTERS TO DATE:
AccuDraft, Inc is a 2-year old Software-as-a-Service company that solves critical contract creation and management problems for mid to large-sized organizations. Our solutions revolutionize the contract process – allowing companies to quickly and efficiently produce contracts and documents that follow their business rules, and in the process allow them to track the data within their contracts. For more information please refer to their website www.accudraft.com .
Advantica EyeCare (Allied EyeCare LLC d/b/a Advantica EyeCare) is a privately held managed eye care specialty company which contracts with HMOs, other healthcare organizations and employer groups to deliver high quality, cost-effective eye care services. Formed in 2001, Advantica EyeCare currently provides eye care services to over 2,000,000 lives in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast on a risk basis. The services are delivered through networks of ophthalmologists, optometrists, major retail optical, and ambulatory surgery facilities. Today Advantica EyeCare has built a provider network of over 7,000 eye care professionals comprised of both private independent practioners as well as strategic retail optical partners such as Sears Optical, Pearle Vision Centers, JC Penny Optical, Eye Care Centers of America (ECCA) and For Eyes Optical to provide a national network of providers. For more information please refer to their website www.advanticaeyecare.com .
AuthenTec is the world’s leading provider of fingerprint authentication sensors and solutions to the high-volume PC, wireless device, and access control markets, with more than 25 million sensors in use worldwide. For more information please refer to their website www.authentec.com .
AVANCEN is a company with a mission of Improving Patient Care at the Bedside(tm). The Company’s initial product, a “world’s first” oral PCA (Patient Controlled Analgesia) device, has received FDA clearance, has completed an in-patient clinical trial, and is produced by an FDA-registered contract manufacturer. This patent-protected medical device contributes to better patient comfort and treatment outcomes, and helps nurses become more effective while saving hospital dollars. For more information please refer to their website www.avancen.com .
Banyan Biomarkers, Inc. is focused on commercializing novel biomarker in vitro diagnostic products to address unmet clinical needs associated with organ injury. Our initial diagnostic products will be used for the detection and monitoring of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Banyan research has identified unique and proprietary biomarkers present in the patient’s blood following injury to the brain. Until now, no simple, point-of-care blood test existed for use by physicians in the emergency room or in the hospital to detect the presence and severity of brain trauma. Detecting these biomarkers will provide early indications of brain trauma essential for earlier intervention and management. For more information please refer to their website www.banyanbio.com .
DataBanq owns and operates a network of sites across the financial services (mortgage, insurance, credit) and real estate sectors which provide both consumers and businesses (brokers) an open marketplace to engage and transact. Consumers have access to expert level market research written by local brokers in addition to in-depth broker profiles and reviews. Brokers have the ability to upload real estate listings and video, publish blogs, and create their own lead generation forms. The company is adapting its technology for expansion into healthcare Q2 ’08. For more information please refer to their website www.databanqmedia.com .
Field Forensics in 2006 introduced the ELITE Explosives Detection Kit. The ELITE has now been tested by the US Army, FBI, RCMP and several other organizations and is being used by several police agencies, including the FBI, several cruise lines, nuclear power plants, and public transportation networks. The disposable kit covers a broad range of explosives, has a very low false positive rate and long shelf life. It is manufactured significantly under contract at good margins even with relatively small manufacturing runs. For more information please refer to their website www.fieldforensics.com .
GeneEx is developing rapid, point-of-care diagnostic tests for infectious diseases capable of detecting virulence markers produced ONLY during active infections. Unlike current diagnostic assays, GeneEx’s tests can detect pathogens in action as opposed to when they are just harmless colonizers. GeneEx will focus its initial commercialization effort on infectious diseases like periodontitis, group A strep and systemic fungal infections. The company has patent-protected its core technology, and has de-risked kit production and marketing through strategic alliances with key manufacturing and distribution partners. For more information please refer to their website www.geneexinc.com .
Health Integrated delivers innovative health management solutions using a whole-patient approach. Our healthcare programs help members live healthier, more productive lives while enabling employers and health plans to reduce costs by deploying resources more effectively. Health Integrated confronts health, productivity and cost challenges by integrating behavioral health and behavior change into medical and disease management activities. For more information please refer to their website www.healthintegrated.com .
Management Company for InnoVision, a regional provider of eyecare and eyewear through 8 vision centers in the Tampa Bay area. InnoVision is distinguished by it’s patient care driven operating model; business development strategy with low patient lead cost; technology and data base orientation; unique merchandising approach; and the training of team members. For more information please refer to their website www.InnoVisionEyecareOnline.com .
Intezyne Technologies, Inc. is an early-stage biotechnology company that focuses on the development of advanced, synthetic polymers for the encapsulation and targeted delivery of therapeutic compounds. Intezyne has developed the IVECT™ drug delivery platform to make targeted drug delivery a reality. The IVECT™ platform represents a radically different approach to drug delivery whereby the polymer structure can be tuned to encapsulate a wide range of therapeutics (e.g. small molecule drugs, proteins, DNA/RNA, and diagnostic agents). This modular system offers opportunities to pursue many disease targets and products, and current efforts aim to demonstrate the versatility of this technology. For more information please refer to their website www.intezyne.com .
Lehigh Technologies manufactures and distributes high quality industrial polymers that enhance the value proposition and in many cases improve the performance characteristics of tires, tire products, extruded and molded rubber goods, paints, coatings, sealants, plastics and other industrial goods. Lehigh’s ultra fine rubber powders are re-engineered from industrial waste rubber using a proven patented cryogenic process. The Company sells these powders into an established but severely undersupplied market at price points that generate operating margins in excess of 35%. The management team brings high level relationships and substantial experience in the industries served by the Company. for more information please refer to their website www.lehightechnologies.com .
Moka provides real-time multi-protocol and multi-lingual messaging applications and services that help people communicate across platforms and borders. Moka’s core service enables any wireless subscriber to engage in a SMS based real-time chat with multiple participants on any mobile device, across different IM platforms or the web and in multiple languages without having to download an application to the handset. Moka provides the only real-time multi-protocol and multi-lingual person-to-person and group messaging application in the market. Our unique communication solution will help people interact and communicate more effectively around the world. For more information please refer to their website www.moka.com .
NovaMin Technology Inc. (“NTI”) is marketing its proprietary material, NovaMin®, as the next generation active-ingredient foundation for consumer oral health care and professional dental products. NTI supplies the ingredient for use in existing products as a branded ingredient. NovaMin addresses rapidly growing, unmet oral care needs of adults and seniors. It does this by amplifying the natural biological defenses and repair mechanisms of the oral environment – resulting in teeth and gums that look and feel noticeably healthier. For more information please refer to their website www.novamin.com .
NovaVision, Inc., headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla., develops and provides scientifically based, innovative neuro-stimulation medical devices and comprehensive solutions to noninvasively restore the vision of patients with neurological visual impairments. While other rehabilitation modalities have been considered a standard of care for stroke and traumatic brain injury patients (collectively called acquired brain injury patients), NovaVision Vision Restoration Therapy (VRT) addresses vision, an important missing rehabilitation. When diagnosed, neurological vision loss has historically been treated with techniques to compensate for injury rather than restore function. For more information please refer to their website www.novavision.com .
ON-CARD. Inc. On-Card creates and strengthens relationships with personalized gift cards and photo cards. For more information please refer to their website www.on-card.com .
Persystent Technology Corporation is an independent software vendor that offers Persystent Enterprise (PE), a next generation automated PC repair and policy enforcement solution. PE keeps PCs working the way YOU want, all the time, On or Off the network. As a true PC lifecycle management offering, PE automatically enforces IT policies and delivers unparalleled system availability, compliance, and control of PCs. For more information please refer to their website www.persystent.com .
Prioria designs and develops embedded systems for autonomous and robotic applications. Prioria is the creator of the MAVERIC UAS, a hand launched, squad level, fully autonomous unmanned aerial system with the ability to fly in cluttered aerial environments. Prioria also creates advanced, embedded systems for use in the defense, homeland security, and medical device industries. For more information please refer to their website www.prioria.com .
ReDesigning Women is a place to explore the many issues and concerns you face in all facets of your life as you contemplate, navigate and complete the divorce process. The goal is to provide access to practical, emotional, social and physical support, information and encouragement. ReDesigning Women is the winner of the Florida Collegiate Business Plan Competition. For more information please refer to their website www.RDWCommunity.com .
Solicore is a worldwide leader of embedded power solutions, offering its Flexion® product portfolio of advanced, ultra-thin, flexible, lithium polymer batteries for powered cards, RFID, and micro medical devices. Solicore has developed an advanced battery technology that is ultra-thin, flexible, and environmentally safe, which significantly enhances the capabilities of lithium-based batteries. This technology provides a high-energy and high-power density embedded power solution that operates over a wide temperature range and is ideal for high temperature lamination manufacturing processes. Solicore develops, manufactures and markets these ultra-thin, flexible, lithium polymer batteries. Solicore also provides technology integration services that enable customers to accelerate their time to market and increase product design efficiencies at its headquarters, located in Lakeland, Florida. For more information, please visit their website www.solicore.com .
Spectrum Bridge Inc. (SBI), is focused on providing a new wireless communication system technology to allow real time auctioning of FCC licensed radio spectrum. The company’s unique, patented technology creates a new paradigm for the efficient use of spectrum for enterprises, consumers, public safety, and defense users. Spectrum Bridge makes radio spectrum a commodity by creating a real time market for spectrum owners and users to exchange spectrum in a structured and policed environment. For more information please refer to their website www.spectrumbridge.com .
The Kramer Group, Inc. is an information technology company providing “web based” quality assurance services for heallthcare institutions around the country. Our services focus on the providing data quality assurance for registration, billing, coding and collection functions throughout the revenue cycle of a healthcare institutions and their business office operations. These services are sold on a recurring revenue subscription model under multi-year agreements. For more information please refer to their website www.kramergroup.com .
XSell, LLC was founded in 2004 with the sole focus of enabling a new, more effective sales channel: Customer Interaction Marketing. The XSell Interaction Marketing Platform, applicable to a wide variety of industries and organizations, was designed to leverage customer-initiated interactions and transform these into sales opportunities. XSell’s service oriented architecture delivers targeted cross-sell content to common customer interaction channels. The XSell interaction hub ensures that sales offers are consistent across channels and allows customer responses to be linked across channels including contact centers, consumer facing web sites and mobile devices. All reporting is consolidated across channels as well as available for each specific channel. For more information please refer to their website www.goxsell.com
The 2008 Florida Venture Capital Conference is gearing up for another record year. If you are an entrepreneur, investor or startup service provider in the Southeast, this is a can’t-miss conference. Last year’s conference had over 1,200 attendees (record attendance), including over 180 investors. You can see my wrap-up posts from the last two conferences at Florida Venture Capital Conference 2006 Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Florida Venture Capital Conference 2007.
This year’s conference is being held January 29-30, 2008 at the Renaissance Vinoy, St Petersburg, FL. If the venue is any indication, this will be a first-class event.
I’ll provide a list of presenters in my next post, but wanted to congratulate Inflexion portfolio companies Databanq Media and Persystent Technologies on being selected as presenters for this year’s event. Come see what they’re up to, and many others. I hope to see you there!
Now that Inflexion Fund is well into it’s life, I spent some time today reviewing how our reserve approach is working out across the portfolio (short answer: great). When I say reserves, I mean the amount of money or “dry powder” a fund mentally reserves for follow-on rounds in their companies. It’s a concept that isn’t immediately obvious to some entrepreneurs and even many investors.
As an early stage investor, I like to reserve at least $2 for every $1 of initial investment. Many funds focus on a $1 to $1 reserve and some funds may hold as much as $10 dry powder behind their initial $1 invested. Entrepreneurs would do well to ask potential investors about their reserve approach (as part of their overall investing strategy).
In particular, if an investor stumbles on the question or holds minimal reserves (or zero), consider it a big red flag. It typically means the investor hasn’t done enough early-stage investing or they just sprinkle money around with a goal of heavying up in only one or two favorites. Their money is still green, but you might have mismatched expectations going forward — especially when you need that extra little support that the investor never budgeted for. An investor that doesn’t reserve properly can also impact your ability to raise future capital, because lack of insider reserves can signal weakness to new investors.
So, have you faced this issue before? What happened?
It’s been a couple weeks since my last post and I feel really bad about it. I’m hoping to make it up to you by awarding a couple “Best of Show” KangaRuas in today’s post.
2007 Florida Venture Capital Conference wrap-up
Boca Resort venue was awesome, particularly for those who participated in the resort course golf tourney. For those who didn’t hit the links, there was even a manicured croquet course (sweet!). I guess the drawback of such a nice place was the $300-$500/night room cost — something I solved via HotWire (5 minutes away, $84/night).
Day 1 started well for me, thanks to my golf scramble team and a 2nd place, 62, on a blustery day. We’re also claiming 1st place because the winning score, 59, was delivered by a team including two scratch golfers shuffled together at the last minute. Jon Cole was on that team so I’m sure it was no accident 😉
Monday night included dinner, wine tasting and gambling, aboard a yacht docked behind the resort. I was looking forward to the evening, but some late portfolio company work consumed my night (see why here). Those that did attend had great things to say, even if some of the poker tables deteriorated into who could pull off the biggest cheat. Between golf, wine, and gambling the venture banks Square 1 Bank, Silicon Valley Bank, and RBC Centura sponsored a great kickoff to the conference.
Day 2 was a whirlwind of meeting new companies, seeing old friends, and discussing existing portfolio companies. Speaking of old friends, one of the publications I remember reading when I was a kid growing up in Tampa was a presenter: Creative Loafing — kinda weird to see a 20+ year old company at a venture conference. Our lunch speaker was Florida CFO Alex Sink, who did her best fielding venture-related questions less than 30 days into office. Questions about the state’s emphasis on entrepreneurship and legislative efforts to promote venture capital were answered with a hearty “I’m supportive and want to learn more.”
The morning and afternoon company presenters did well overall, with very few needing the music to accelerate their closing slide. The opportunities were pretty diverse, with a few concentrations around business process automation, telecom services and online lead generation. My “Best of Show” KangaRua for Day 1 goes to Kelly Smith of Pasteuria Biosciences, for presenting a big but obscure opportunity (nematode control) in a clear, interesting way. Congrats Kelly! Hopefully, CFO Sink’s lunchtime reference to nematodes led to some extra investor interest.
Dinner was great, but political satirist/pianist Mark Russell could have been better. I really enjoyed last year’s Capital Steps show, but found myself checking my Treo too often this time around.
Day 3 went pretty quickly with only a half-day of activities. The morning “State of Venture Capital” panel was full of the usual fund sales pitches, but included some nice tidbits around growing exits. As a VC who typically builds with entrepreneurs to strategic M&A or IPO, it was interesting to hear how other firms have sold their positions to private equity/LBO/hedge funds. I’m not sure if that is a growing trend or a geographic anomaly for funds looking to exit quicker and raise their next fund.
The day’s presenters also did well, with a couple Inflexion companies, WiDeFi and PayPerPost, fielding significant inbound interest — maybe it was Ted’s Michael Jackson leg-flip. Taking my companies out of the mix, I’d have to give Peter Pezaris of Multiply.com a “Best of Show” Kangarua for his business-like, but compelling presentation of the company he’s built. I will share that I’m biased because I’ve covered Multiply a couple times at FVB before — they continue to grow with their focus on connecting real-world networks.
Final thoughts: This FVCC was the largest one ever, with over 1300 attendees. It was very well run, thanks to the terrific leadership of Robin Kovaleski and her team. I still believe the forum’s board payola scheme puts service provider and later-stage fund interests ahead of entrepreneurs, and I heard similar sentiments from peers at the conference. I also heard that the 3-day length was tough for many investors to commit — although I’m not sure how to shorten it without a golf/presentation day (tough) or fewer presenters. Some of the conference’s panel content could have been stronger, but overall it was a great showcase for Florida startups. I look forward to the 2008 Florida Venture Capital Conference, January 29-30, at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort and Golf Club in St Petersburg, FL — save the date now!
– Venture Capital State of the Industry: Mark Heesen of the NVCA, as usual, brought a mound of stats and declared the state of the venture industry was good with growing company and fund investments. The majority of funds either raised in the last 24 months or will in the next 24 months. The panel was a bit sedate (at least compared to bio) but all participants brought some nuggets of wisdom.
Themes: more early-stage investing will come with new funds being raised, Florida is getting a lot of attention from outside funds, funds are syndicating with FL/non-FL synergies, more talk about services than I usually hear.
Nifty nugget: west coast VCs talking about simplified devices for the masses, but particularly seniors — think FireFly for grandma.
– Presentations: no blow-by-blow, see prior post for “Best of Show”
– Bio and Life Science State of the Industry: Great panel moderation by Jeff Clark of Aurora Funds on a panel that went deep on bio lingo. Donny Strosberg from Scripps Research was a fresh new voice in the region who should win a lot of supporters for a biotech incubator near Scripps’ ultimate location.
Themes: new treatments actually curing disease not symptoms, personalized medicine (at high price points) continuing to grow, bio taking a long time (5+yrs) but better not take too long (8+yrs), Florida as bio-hub coming but requires more research, capital and entrepreneurs (Jeff told us these guys were smart)
Best question: pretend you are Jeb, how do you make it happen for Florida? Trick question because Jeb announced Tuesday a major new tech/research/development/venture program that was hinted at in earlier news articles. The Governor’s plan probably isn’t perfect, but will make a major impact on Florida’s entrepreneurial ecosystem — if Florida’s legislature can see the vision. The panel response by Will Brooke of Harbert wins my “Best Panelist” KangaRua for shear inspiration and believability — Will’s got a future in politics.
– Post-FVCC Sneak Peek: After the show, huddled in a small, nondescript conference room, seed/early-stage life science investors got a peek behind the curtain at some of Florida’s life science research engines. Presenters from UF, Moffitt, UMiami and even Mayo were on hand to provide a sneak peek at what’s coming for cancer diagnosis, differentiated tumor treatment, periodontitis diagnosis, drug delivery, asthma treatment and others. Because of our university relationships, I’d seen many of these technologies but they stepped it up for this forum. I especially liked the opportunities where an entrepreneur was coupled with the inventor/scientist, and look forward to watching these companies mature into the next generation of Florida Venture Capital Conference presenters…
So that’s it…I hope you enjoyed it and feel free to comment with any of your FVCC 2006 observations!
If the 2006 Florida Venture Capital Conference is any indicator, the venture vibe is up in the sunshine state. The conference ran Mon-Wed of this week and was full of good presenters, networking and activities. I’ve jotted down a few thoughts from Day 1 of the conference below and will cover Days 2 and 3 in separate posts:
– Investor golf at TPC Stadium Course: Beautiful course, tight, not too long, plenty of balls in the water. I had the pleasure of playing the scramble with Gary Andresen (RBC Centura), Jonathan Cole (Edwards & Angell) and opening keynote Brian Swette. Although we scrambled the whole day, our 7-under came close to the money — all thanks to my teammates.
And, yes, I put two in the drink aiming for #17’s island green. Having a Chivas Regal sample table at the #17 tee was either a cruel prank or welcome solace, I’m not sure which. Despite the distraction, John hit an amazing shot that landed near the left fringe and spun immediately right, stopping 6ft from the hole and winning closest to the pin!
– Visiting VC Dinner: Inflexion hosted a dinner for out of town investors and syndicate partners that evening and had a great mix of funds: large and small, life science and IT. Good deal talk and general networking, I even heard an “inside” rumor that Oprah might run for President in ’08?!
…more to come…
PWC/NVCA/VentureEconomics/[insert brand here] MoneyTree report came out just after E&Y/VOne with same Florida story, different numbers. Florida venture investing hit $361M for 2005, up from $318M in 2004 — not as big a jump as reported by E&Y. Deals were just a nudge down, with 55 in 2005 vs. 58 in 2004. It was the largest year for Florida venture investing since 2002 and after a 2004 of zero VC-backed IPOs, 2005 saw three reach the public markets.
MoneyTree numbers show continued strength in FL venture investments, although expansion/growth deals continue to outpace seed/early. Greed is slowly catching Fear on the chart — hopefully fast enough for those entrepreneurs with great ideas, pursuing first institutional dollars.
Interesting VC stats show 46% increase in FL venture investments, but in fewer deals. Likely cause: a couple more later/larger stage investments. We’re seeing good activity on the early-stage front, but institutional dollar supply still doesn’t meet demand.
“Venture capital investment in Florida in 2005 soared 46 percent to $389 million versus the previous year — its best showing since the dot-com days of 2002, according to the Quarterly Venture Capital Report released Monday by Ernst & Young and Venture One. Despite the uptick, investors closed on just 35 deals in 2005 — one less than in 2004. Nationally, venture capital investment was up 2 percent at $22.1 billion in 2,239 deals — the best showing since 2001.”
This article from the Miami Herald, about biotech/Scripps, makes another mention of legislative interest/support for more local venture capital:
“Atwater believes legislation will be offered in the next 60 days to help remedy the problem. It will come in the form of state-supported venture capital, subsidized laboratory space or some modification of existing incentive programs, he said.”
Let’s hope these dots connect to form a picture of more seed/early-stage money for Florida entrepreneurs. We shall see…
It looks like Jeb has something coming for entrepreneurs. In announcing a FL Space agenda, there was this VC snippet:
“Not in today’s budget proposal but coming soon: a request to expand a current $10 million “closing fund” the governor has broad discretion to use to lure new business ventures to Florida, and a venture capital fund to help launch new companies.”
Details to come…