Category Archives: florida venture capital conference

Florida Venture Capital and Entrepreneur Interviews

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!

Bobby G: Adventure Capitalist…er Business and Asset Consolidator

I’ve seen people make money in a lot of ways in this world. The MOJO show Bobby G: Adventure Capitalist reminded me of that fact. I thought I was going to see a show about venture capital, but that’s not quite what was on the screen. Upon further research, the show website shares that Bobby’s company is a Business and Asset Consolidator.
Now I don’t know Florida-based Bobby Genovese (although I think Barbados is the legal home of his business), but I have to hand it to the guy. Somehow he convinced MOJO to run a venture capital reality show about him and his company, BG Capital; with the following portfolio:

  1. The Neptune Society: a pre-funded cremation service
  2. Clearly Canadian: OTC stock, enhanced water company
  3. Neptune Memorial Reef: a manmade reef off the coast of Key Biscayne, with the following benefits/uses:
    • A memorial garden for the cremated remains of our dearly departed.
    • The world’s largest and most enchanting man-made reef.
    • An environmental and ecological masterpiece.
    • A world-class destination for divers and explorers.
    • A place for commemorating mankind’s accomplishments.

He seems like a pretty personable guy and he definitely knows how to live the high life. If you haven’t seen his show, give it a look. It’s no Rockstartup, but it will get your head out of Web 2.0 and remind you that there are diverse people and businesses making money out there…

UPDATE: I checked Bobby’s company site (rather than the TV series site) and found some additional portfolio companies. For example, he’s backed the Vancouver International Polo Team. It sounds like he’s quite the polo player:

“Even more remarkable is the talent of Genovese himself. Although an accomplished equestrian, he wasn’t introduced to the sport until 1995 when he took his first lesson. Much to the surprise and delight of both teacher and student, Genovese proved to be a natural.”

Related images: bobby genovese

FVCC Day 1: VC Adventures on Land & Sea

The first day of the Florida Venture Capital Conference typically involves investor activities, and this year was no exception. It started with a 4-person team scramble golf tourney at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort Course and ended with an investor cocktail cruise.

You couldn’t have asked for a better day for golf — not a cloud in the sky and moderate temps throughout the tourney. Although we didn’t score the best, I lucked out with a great team of Louie Laubscher, Kathy Strother and Mark Patten. Everyone did their part, but I have to toss a golden Kangarua Mark’s way — the guy won longest drive AND closest to the pin. How’s that for distance and accuracy? However, our team didn’t place in the money, so you can guess how much support Mark got from the rest of us. Regardless, it was good seeing everyone and an enjoyable day on the course.

The evening brought an investor-only night cruise. I note “investor-only” because more than one entrepreneur highlighted that point when I asked what they were doing tonight. I would provide a “behind the curtain” blow-by-blow of what transpired on the super-secret cruise, but, alas, I wasn’t on it. After being told the yacht cocktails started at 7pm and it would depart the dock at 9pm, I got some lobby laptop work done until 8pm. Within seconds of putting my laptop away for a leisurely stroll to the yacht, I saw it start a slow float away. I literally missed my boat.

I’m sure it was a great evening, capping off a great first day of the 2008 Florida Venture Capital Conference. At least I hope it was…I understand some of the cigars being passed around were $1,600 per box!?!?

Presenting Companies at the 2008 Florida Venture Capital Conference

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

Florida Venture Capital Conference 2008: It’s Gonna Be Big, Again

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!

Florida Venture Capital Conference Recap and Best of Show

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!

Upcoming Venture & Social Media Events

Starting with today, the next two weeks for me will be a whirlwind of good venture capital and social media events — some small, some large, some near, some far. If you haven’t considered them, do so. If you’re planning to attend, let’s try to connect while there.

Today, noon, UF McKnight Brain Institute, Gainesville, FL
Seminar 4 of 4 discussing university research startups
Presenter: me

Tonight, 6:30pm, 28th Floor, 200 South Orange Ave, Orlando, FL
TiE Florida Presents “What Will it Take to Get Funded in 2007
Panel: me (Inflexion), Ravi Ugale (Crossbow), John Hill (Hyde Park), Mike Slawson (ATV)

January 29-31, New York, NY
AlwaysOn Media conference
Congrats to portfolio company PayPerPost, selected as one of the AO Media 100 Top Private Media Companies

February 5-7, Boca Raton, FL
2007 Florida Venture Capital Conference
Congrats to portfolio companies WiDeFi and PayPerPost, selected as FVCC presenters

February 7-9, Miami, FL
We Media Miami
Great program of social media topics, including a “Funding We” roundtable you won’t want to miss (me, Clavier, Calacanis and others)

After all these, I finish up on February 10th with the most important event of all: Family Love Day at my daughter’s school. I’ll understand if you don’t join me at that one… 😉

Selections Announced for 2007 Florida Venture Capital Conference

Congrats to all of the entrepreneurs selected to present at this year’s Florida Venture Capital Conference. The announcement press release is here (list with descriptions included below). Given how many entrepreneurial hotspots exist in the state, it was interesting to see the list broken down by geographies. Many of these names won’t be new to FVB members — we have a talented crop of startups making an impact at home and afar.

Central Florida

  • Avant Healthcare Professionals, LLC (www.avanthealthcare.com), Winter Park: Provider of international nurse and allied health professional recruitment, placement and transitioning services to healthcare systems throughout the U.S.
  • ClearSky Mobile Media, Inc. (www.csky.com), Orlando: Provider of relevant, market-specific mobile data offerings including downloadable content, mobile web browsing, MMS services and managed data services across all wireless technologies
  • Controlled Semiconductor, Inc. (www.consemi.com), Orlando: Manufacturer of lased-based LCD, PDP and semiconductor process equipment
  • Informa Software (www.informasoftware.com), Maitland: provider of specialist information to the global academic and scientific, professional and commercial communities via publishing, events and performance improvement
  • Nanotherapeutics (www.nanotherapeutics.com), Alachua: Biopharmaceutical company that employs its proprietary nanotechnology platform to create innovative delivery methods for new and existing pharmaceuticals
  • Pasteuria Bioscience, LLC (www.pasteuriabio.com), Alachua: Developers of a fermentation process that allows commercial-scale production of naturally-occurring bacteria to prevent crop damage
  • PayPerPost, Inc. (www.payperpost.com), Orlando: The first marketplace for consumer-generated advertising, with a platform that connects advertisers and consumer content creators to deliver marketing messages
  • PlusOne Solutions, Inc. (www.plusonesolutions.net), Oviedo: Provider of software and disruptive business process solutions to manage service networks for retailers, manufacturers and service fulfillment companies
  • PowerPad, Inc., Orlando: The winner of the Florida Collegiate Business Plan Competition, the principal has developed a technology that will unlock the multi-billion dollar wireless power industry with a patent-pending wireless power transmission system designed to power virtually all consumer electronic devices.
  • Quality Assured Services, Inc. (www.ptinr.com), Orlando: Provides fast, accurate, easy to use and cost-effective technology to link consumers with disease conditions that require regular diagnostic monitoring with their physicians, resulting in changing and responsive therapies
  • XOS Technologies, (www.xostech.com), Sanford: Product lines that maximize the value of content, commerce and services for sports organizations and fans by integrating video, data and fan management technologies
  • WiDeFi (www.widefi.com), Melbourne: Fabless wireless communications semiconductor company that develops technology, integrated circuits and reference design products to improve the coverage and performance of wireless systems

Northern Florida and Panhandle

  • Datamaxx Group (www.datamaxx.com), Tallahassee: Designs, delivers and maintains advanced communications and applications technology to the law enforcement, criminal justice, public safety and homeland security markets.

South Florida

  • Blue Frog Solutions (www.bluefrogsolutions.com), Pompano Beach: Provider of software technology and business process outsourcing to the insurance industry
  • BroadBand National, Inc. (www.broadbandnational.com), Vero Beach: Operator of e-commerce platform for comparative shopping by residential and business consumers of digital services
  • DailyMe, Inc. (www.dailyme.com), Hollywood: Allows subscribers to build completely personalized, free, print newspapers, focusing on taking online content to print
  • DayJet Corporation (www.dayjet.com), Delray Beach: Developer of on-demand short-haul jet service of less than 600 miles, designed for regional business travelers, offering reserved individual seats as well as entire planes according to customer schedules
  • Latin3 (www.latin3.com), Hollywood: Provider of “exponential marketing” services in Latin America and the U.S. Hispanic markets, using unique approaches across an array of channels and formats
  • Multiply, Inc. (www.multiply.com), Boca Raton: Distinctive message board that not only allows users to share media and discussions, but also alerts users to everything being shared by people in their network
  • SAF-T-PAY (www.saftpay.com), Miami Beach: Global Internet payment system company catering to the untapped market of non-credit card users around the world who want to use their local currency and also do not choose to reveal personal financial data
  • STS Telecom (www.ststelecom.com), Cooper City: Next generation facilities-based provider of traditional IP and TDM-based voice and data communications services, primarily through T-1 connections

West Central Florida

  • Creative Loafing (www.creativeloafing.com), Tampa: The nation’s second largest publisher of alternative newspapers and websites, reaching 750,000 young, educated readers in the Southeast each week
  • DTI-NanoTech (www.dti-nanotech.com), Sarasota: Division of Discovery Technology International that specializes in the design, manufacture and distribution of novel motorized nano-robotic and nanopositioning systems
  • RedVector.com (www.redvector.com), Tampa: Online education for professionals in the engineering, architectural, interior design, construction, land surveying, building inspection and landscape architecture industries
  • Network Liquidators (www.networkliquidators.com), Tampa: A leading source for buyers and sellers of used networking equipment and accessories that serves more than 8,000 end-user and reseller customers nationwide with top-name manufacturer products that have been rigorously inspected and quality tested by knowledgeable industry-certified technicians
  • Ultramatics, Inc. (www.ultramatics.com), Oldsmar: Sells and delivers highly effective solutions from the position of “best practices through real life implementations” that require complex system integration

Break a leg and check back afterwards to see who garnered a “Best of Show” KangaRua!

2007 Florida Venture Capital Conference

Just a get-your-reservations-now reminder for the upcoming Florida Venture Capital Conference at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, February 6-7, 2007. Note that February 4th is Superbowl XLI, being played in South Florida so hotel rooms could be in short supply.

Now is the time to apply if you’d like to present. As a past attendee, sponsor and volunteer ping me with any questions about the conference, presenters, tickets or sponsorship. You can also get the official word at the conference home page.

For a taste of the 2006 conference, check out my recaps here, here and here. FVF Executive Director Robin Kovaleski always runs a great show and 2007 should be no exception!

FVCC 2006, Day 3: Panels, Presentations, and a Sneak Peek

– 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!

FVCC 2006, Day 2: The Big Day of Panels and Presentations (at least those I saw)

– Valuations & Raising Money Panel: nothing too juicy, raising money is hard but getting better and valuing early-stage technology companies is art, science & voodoo.

– Seed, Angel and Early Stage Investing: I participated as the early-stage VC on this panel with a good mix of angels, angel group coordinators and individuals. Themes from that panel included be passionate, get early-adopter customers/references, and expect many “early-stage” venture funds, (not Inflexion) to require $2-3M in revenue before backing you. Al Rossiter of Springboard Capital provided a list of state angel funds, Brian Javeline shared his story of proving doubters wrong by bootstrapping, Peter Hairston emphasized a “change the world” attitude and Rich Swier shared a great analogy during and after the panel on constantly bailing out your “bucket of risk” (e.g. management, market, technology) until investors pull out their checkbooks.

– Lunch Keynote, Brian Swette: Former P&G, Pepsi and eBay COO (and smooth golfer). Brian came across as a great operator/marketer who grew up in a rich P&G farm system. He’s a guy that could help a lot of young (or big) companies. His biggest test was when someone asked him about the soundness of eBay’s multi-billion dollar purchase of Skype — his answer: eBay has driven a ton of value out of their past high-priced acquisitions (e.g. Half.com, PayPal).

– Company presentations: The “Best of Show” KangaRua (picture a small golden kangaroo statue) goes to Visible Assets for a solid presentation and great booth demos. Jay Pierce is a tenured operator that we’ll be spending a lot more time with. Honorable mentions go to later-stage presenter RecruitMax who seems to have built a strong business with a stable of blue-chip customers and MAKO Surgical (Day 3 presenter) for a revolutionary approach to joint replacement. The “Most Passionate Entrepreneur” KangaRua goes to Ren Mohan of Intelligenxia/IxReveal — get that guy a throat lozenge. Proximities got a lot of attention from my peers, but I can’t start my awards with an Inflexion company, can I?

– Dinner w/Capitol Steps: I saw the Capitol Steps many times when I managed a DFJ fund near DC and they were as good as ever Tuesday night. Their ability to absorb current events, wrap them in humor AND deliver them by music/song is thoroughly entertaining.

– Fireworks & Island chip: The fireworks were a great addition to the conference — let’s do it every year. My chip to the Island green was closer the most (5-10 ft), but the prize Nazi was only awarding for a hit. I heard that the only island hits were on second shots after a shank — no prize for those either??

…more to come…

FVCC 2006, Day 1: Duffers and Dinner at Florida Venture Forum


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…

Florida Venture Capital Conference Presenters Announced

Merry Christmas! Florida Venture Forum just anounced their Christmas present to some worthy Florida technology companies — presentations at the Florida Venture Capital Conference at Sawgrass. FVCC is always a great conference with good networking, presenters and golf. I’ve met most of the presenters and this year’s slate looks like one of our best ever. Congratulations to Ron and the guys at Proximities, Inc. (Inflexion company), Sue, Jamie, Jorge, Maurice, Chris, Brent, Jay, Rich and all selected entrepreneurs! It looks like 2006 will be a good year for you all!

Presenting companies include:

Central Florida –
Applied Genetic Technologies (www.agtc.com), Alachua: Holds the rights to a portfolio of strategically vital intellectual property in the application of Adeno-Associated Virus (AAV) to gene therapy.
AxoGen (www.axogeninc.com), Gainesville: Provides surgeons a biological solution to repair and regenerate peripheral nerves, restoring functionality to patients who suffer peripheral nerve injuries.
Brijot Imaging, Inc. (www.brijot.com), Orlando: Delivers an automated concealed weapons detection system that can detect and identify weapons under a person’s clothing.
ForHealth Technologies (www.fhtinc.com), Daytona Beach: Combines human intelligence with robotic performance to create advanced drug preparation technologies that improve patient safety and reduce cost.
Proximities, Inc. (http://www.proximities.com/), Melbourne: Develops and markets applications for its GO™ RFID wristband, which allows venue and entertainment patrons to quickly and securely gain access to restricted areas, purchase concessions without cash and verify their age.
SkyCross (www.skycross.com), Melbourne: Designs, develops and manufactures next-generation RF and antenna technology for cellular, WLAN, UWB, GPS and mobile video markets.
XStream Systems, Inc. (www.xstreamsystems.net), Vero Beach: Provides revolutionary material identification equipment for the public security markets such as aviation, law enforcement and military.

Northern Florida and Panhandle –
Cogon Systems Inc. (www.cogonsystems.com), Pensacola: Provides patient safety and clinical efficiency through data integration and mobile technology using its MOMENT OF CARE ™ Information System.
Intelligenxia (www.intelligenxia.com), Jacksonville: provides Unstructured Data Analysis Solutions to enable enterprises to lower costs, increase revenues and customer satisfaction by mining the 80 percent of data that is unstructured and currently untapped.
Payformance (www.payformance.com), Jacksonville: Delivers optimal solutions for corporate payments through a range flexible payment products and services. Recruitmax (ww.recruitmax.com), Jacksonville: Manages the entire employee lifecycle, including planning, acquiring, deploying, developing and optimizing, and provides products and services built on best practices, experience, creativity and knowledge.

South Florida –
Comerxia, Inc. (www.comerxia.com), Hollywood: The world leader in cross-border eCommerce services, providing merchants in more than 49 countries with the ability to quickly, easily and with little risk, enter foreign markets and generate immediate incremental revenue.
Data Protection Solutions (www.ezd2d.com), Hollywood: Provides patented disk-to-disk (D2D) data protection technologies: mirroring backup and restore solutions.
Latin Node, Inc. (www.latinode.com), Miami: A global player in the VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) market, Latin Node carries more than 3 percent of global VoIP long distance traffic with its world-wide network of call termination points.
MAKO Surgical Corp (www.makosurgical.com), Hollywood: Develops advance medical devices and procedures for the rapidly emerging orthopedic minimally invasive total joint market.
US Spine, Boca Raton (www.us-spine.com): A spinal implant and device manufacturing company committed to advancing the science of spine and creating the best solutions for patients through the integration and collaboration of surgeons, scientists and engineers.
Visible Assets, Miami (www.visible-assets.com): Using proprietary low frequency RF technology and systems, Visible Assets provides market intelligence, supply chain management and patient safety solutions that reduce the cost and improve the quality of healthcare delivery.

West Central Florida –
Avalon Healthcare Holdings, Inc. (www.avalonhealthcare.net), Tampa: An innovative new health insurance company offering consumer-directed health plans to employers and individuals who need affordable healthcare and live and work in Florida.
CareMedic Systems (www.caremedic.com), St. Petersburg: Offers a comprehensive suite of revenue management applications and enables clients to accelerate their revenue collection process with nearly all payers so they can get paid faster than previously possible.
Carry A Tune Technologies (www.carryatune.com), Tampa: Develops and publishes software products that use specialized computer-aided pitch tracking to teach people how to sing in tune and on tempo.
Highwall Technologies, Inc. (www.highwalltech.com), Sarasota: Provides a comprehensive, patent pending solution that secures a network from wireless vulnerabilities and protects wireless networks from threats and attacks.
Ideal Image, Inc. (www.idealimage.com), Tampa: Developer and owner of the proprietary IDEAL IMAGE operating system and brand, which is the premier system and brand for operating upscale laser hair removal centers across the country.
Real Digital Media, Inc. (www.realdigitalmedia.com), Sarasota: Provides a technology solution and associated services designed to enable dynamic digital signage (narrowcast) networks. The narrowcasting solution is a system that includes media player appliances and hosted management software.
Skyway Software (www.skywaysoftware.com), Tampa: The award-winning provider of Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) design and delivery solutions. The Skyway (SOA) Platform enables companies seeking a competitive advantage to design and deliver custom software applications and services faster and cheaper.
The Gemesis Corporation (www.gemesis.com), Sarasota: Produces gem-quality diamonds in a state-of-the-art diamond growth production facility in the U.S. Gemesis has proprietary, production-ready Split-Sphere High-Pressure High-Temperature (SSHPHT) technology that cost-effectively and consistently produces high-quality diamonds.