Category Archives: uf

What Should Entrepreneurs Look For in Company Counsel?


During a talk today with Dave Felman at UF’s Law School (Professor Danny Sokol‘s class), a student asked what I look for in venture capital counsel.  It was a good question, and the answer for me is similar to what I’d recommend for entrepreneurs vetting company counsel.

dave felman
Although good lawyers come in many packages, there are really four main things I look for:
1) Experience doing venture capital deals: There is no substitute for firms who have done venture captial deals before.  Don’t let them spin “corporate law” into “venture or startup law” because the issues involved can be quite different — not to mention entrepreneurs are unique customers that take getting used to.
2) Business-minded, not legal theory: The best venture lawyers operate like business partners, not lawyers.  They identify and highlight risk, but they know when to trade-off corner-case risk for getting a deal done.  The best I’ve used lay out what can happen and how likely it is to happen, and put it into context against other deal points being negotiated.  Counsel that argues small, corner-case points will cost you more money and possibly cost you closing a deal — with little ultimate risk-reduction upside.
3) Experience on both sides of the table: This isn’t critical, but I like counsel who have done company-side work and fund-side work.  It brings an understanding and an ability to communicate to the other side why particular points are important.
4) Overall style/persuasiveness: This relates to being business-minded, but the best lawyers speak in terms of partnering and win-win; rather than creating conflict by digging their heels in.  The win-win lawyer can still be tough on the important points, but the tone of discussion makes a big difference.

Five Bulbs, One Pad: Real Magic from WiPower

Real magic — wireless power. Staying on my video post trend of late, here’s a quick demo of WiPower‘s technology. I’ve met founder Ryan Tseng a few times and I come away more impressed each time.

Is it just me, or was that 6th bulb there just to tease us?

UF and Alexandria Ink Biotech Labspace Deal

alexandria labspaceIf you aren’t already familiar with Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc., their tagline says it all:

Alexandria = LabSpace

The publicly-traded landlord and developer has been in talks with the University of Florida for a few years and just recently announced a deal to build more than 75,000 square feet of biotech incubator on the UF campus — complimenting great off-campus incubators like GTEC and the Sid Martin Biotech Incubator. This is great news for all of us: biotech researchers, entrepreneurs and investors alike, that call Gainesville home.

Most of the press about the announcement references UF President Bernie Machen and he deserves plenty of credit for aiming high — 75,000-150,000sf equals a bunch of companies. That said, I also wanted to share kudos with the Office of Research and Office of Technology Licensing. Specifically, I’ve had the pleasure of watching Win Phillips, David Day and Jane Muir lay key groundwork for this and other UF entrepreneurial efforts. They’ve been a very supportive LP of the Inflexion Fund, helped create local angel groups and have leveraged the entire Gator Nation to build on UF’s research innovations. I’ve touted UF’s track record on patents and spinouts before, and this labspace deal is another key piece of the puzzle. Great work!

Related articles:
Related images: alexandria labspace, biotech, bernie machen, win phillips, david day

Florida Gators: Top College Basketball TEAM of All Time?

“I’m not saying they were the most talented,” Donovan said of his bunch shortly after the 84-75 win against Ohio State on Monday night at the Georgia Dome. “I’m not saying they were flawless. But when you talk about the word ‘team,’ what that encompasses in terms of unselfishness, sacrifice, playing together, they have got to go down and be considered, in my opinion, one of the best teams to ever play.”

OK, it took me a couple days to compose myself and let it all sink in. I’m now ready to talk about what my family and I witnessed in the Georgia Dome Monday night. Put simply, we saw possibly the best TEAM college basketball has ever produced.

The Florida Gators survived the gauntlet as defending national champs, taking everyone’s best shot all season, and emerged as the 2007 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Champions. I don’t just mean the university repeated as champs, I mean the same 5+1 guys that won it all last year, stayed in school, and made it look easy dismissing Ohio State for the Championship Monday night. Although they always played as a TEAM, their names deserve mention:

  • Taurean Green
  • Lee Humphrey
  • Corey Brewer
  • Joakim Noah
  • Al Horford; and
  • sixth-man-of-the-year Chris Richard

On the heels of dismantling UCLA for the 2006 Championship, at least four of those six could have been drafted by the NBA, with Noah and Horford potential lottery picks. Brewer grew up in a modest tobacco farmer’s home and his ailing dad could have been safer with a son in the NBA. Despite the millions of dollars within reach, the TEAM decided “if one stays, we all stay” — and they all stayed in school.

In an age when too many kids see college as a sports franchise instead of a school, these Gators signed up for another year of homework, tests and grades — in between more Brutal Billy practices and ongoing risk of injury. Why? Because Coach Billy Donovan and their families taught them what being a TEAM means. They lived together and played together, always looking out for each other and getting the ball to their best player: whoever was open for the best shot.

Opponents attacked the Gators differently each game and the Gators responded — sometimes with inside banging, sometimes by raining 3-pointers, sometimes on the backs of subs stepping up and sometimes, particularly this weekend, helping the Final Four Most Outstanding Player (Brewer) work some magic of his own. Brewer’s post-game quote about the MOP award sums up his focus: It means a lot. But, you know, it’s all about my teammates. I’d give it to each and every one of my teammates if I could break it apart because if it wasn’t for those guys, what’s MOP mean?”

Playing as a true TEAM means that no one was a stats superstar — even though the Gators led the country in shooting percentage. Will that hurt them in the NBA draft? Possibly, but the commitment and teamwork they embraced will pay off for life. These lessons apply to family, friendships, business and sports.

I’ll end my post of praise with a huge thanks to basketball coach Billy Donovan, football coach Urban Meyer and Athletic Director Jeremy Foley (the real mastermind behind the Gators 2006-2007 basketball- football- basketball domination). The amazing accomplishments of the Gator Basketball and Football programs start with recruiting the right kind of role models to the coaching staff and teams. Congratulations to the coaching TEAM that made this all possible, from the biggest TEAM of all: The Gator Nation. GO GATORS!!

Other coverage of the Gators repeat includes:

Gators Put on A Show(case)

Yesterday was Pro Day in the Swamp as draft prospects from the National Champion Gators put on a show for over 100 NFL coaches and scouts. It sounds like Reggie Nelson (running a 4.3 40), Chris Leak (completing 64 of 65 passes) and others left a pretty strong impression on those in attendance. That show, however, is not what this post is about.

Last Friday I attended the University of Florida Technology Showcase 2007, A Celebration of Innovation. The birthplace of Gatorade, Sentricon, Trusopt and Regeneration Technologies has become a nursery of world-changing technologies busting at the seams, with entrepreneurs and investors completing the spinout equation. The Showcase brought together over 200 entrepreneurs, investors, researchers and corporate partners to network, matchmake and gather feedback on this year’s top prospects.

UF’s Vice President of Research Win Phillips and UF’s Office of Technology Licensing dynamic duo of David Day and Jane Muir deserve every kudo they received on Friday, having created a refreshingly open and proactive approach to licensing and company-building. My experience with other university licensing offices pales in comparison. If you’re an early-stage entrepreneur or investor and you haven’t met David or Jane, you should. They’re an investor in our fund and I’ll gladly make the introduction if you ping me with an email.

After various welcomes and introductions, the show started with a diverse set of 3-minute technology briefs — some of UF’s youngest technologies, looking for a partner or entrepreneur. Following that, the core agenda involved two concurrent tracks of presenting companies: Technology and Biomedical.

Because I couldn’t be in two places at once, I focused my time on the Technology track that included:

  1. Prioria (Bryan daFrota): Unmanned aerial vehicles and visual navigation
  2. Pervasa (Sumi Helal): Sensor network adapters and middleware
  3. ChaoLogix (Eric Buffkin): Chaos-based run-time reconfigurable chips
  4. DsPherical (Don Beech): Signal recognition/extraction
  5. GrooveShark (Sam Tarantino): Legal P2P music sharing
  6. ViewRay (Will Wells): Full-motion radiation therapy
  7. Underground Fiber (Huikai Xie): Underground power fault detection
  8. Walleye (Chris Adams): Portable X-ray camera/viewer (yes, like Star Trek)

In parallel, the Biomedical track included:

  1. AxoGen (Karen Zaderej): nerve regeneration
  2. Sabine Neurotechnology (Ryan Kern): DBS surgical guidance system
  3. Ruperion (Chris Stevens): Pancreatic cancer treatment
  4. NeuroPoetix (Caroline Popper): Regenerative medicine therapeutics
  5. Breast Cancer Targeting (William Cance): FAK-based therapeutics
  6. Innovative Diagnostics (Weihong Tan): Chemical biomarker discovery
  7. Ixion (Robert Harris): Cellular therapy for disabetes
  8. Neurological (Anatoly Martynyuk): CNS treatments

I’d seen some of these before, while others were new. On the whole, they did a great job of sharing their excitement and explaining the business opportunities well beyond the science. After canvassing some of my fellow attendees, I’d have to give “Best of Show” golden KangaRuas to Will Wells of Viewray for a very strong presence and presentation, and to Ryan Kern of Sabine for sharing what’s possible when Deep Brain Stimulation moves from disjoint guidance tools to a dedicated, integrated probe guidance system. New readers should see my post last year covering DBS-patient Tyler Staab‘s fight against Dystonia and his Tyler’s Hope for a Dystonia Cure Foundation.

The day ended with an interesting lunchtime talk by Edward Iacobucci, co-founder of Citrix and current President and CEO of DayJet. He seems to savor the entrepreneurial fight at DayJet as much today as he did when founding mega-success Citrix.

Overall, the show was very well run and I feel lucky to live in a town creating this much good stuff. Congratulations to all the entrepreneurs that presented and here’s hoping your first round fortunes shine as bright as Reggie Nelson’s 😉

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… 😉

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