Category Archives: widefi

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!