Monthly Archives: July 2018

Growing Capital In the Corridor

Source:  Florida High Tech Magazine

Home to more than 383,000 millionaire households and 34 people on Forbes’ list of the 400 richest people in America, Florida has ample funding available. While success stories from across The Corridor exhibit how startups like Orlando’s Fattmerchant, Tampa’s Morphogenesis and Gainesville’s Captozyme have tapped into such wealth, the reality is most entrepreneurs struggle in an increasingly competitive environment.

Fundraising has accelerated rapidly in recent years. While funds grow in dollar amounts, the number of funds has remained relatively the same. This dynamic causes investors to write fewer, larger checks, making it more difficult for smaller companies seeking less capital to benefit unless they boast a disruptive or scalable idea. Indeed, MoneyTree’s Q1 report this year ranked Florida among the top five states for largest deals by dollar amount, with $511 million in financing distributed amongst just 20 contracts.

“On one hand, The Corridor region is a much more credible geographic area to invest in than it was 15 years ago and investors from all over the country now consider investing here,” said Randy Scott, partner at Gainesville’s HealthQuest Capital and advisory board member for the Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research. “On the other hand, the businesses starting here tend to be the ones raising smaller amounts of capital, which will make it tougher to raise capital in this era of bigger deals.”

Randy has been an executive, board member, entrepreneur and investor in health care and medical technology companies for more than 30 years. He recommends smaller companies in The Corridor seek funding from “less traditional sources like angel groups or family offices,” which offer assets from wealthy individuals or families with longer investment horizons.

Tampa’s Ballast Point Ventures, the most active venture investor in Florida over the past 10 years, is not an angel group or family office, yet it does assist companies in earlier stages generating around $3 million in revenue. According to Principal Sean Barkman, who works largely with software-as-a-service companies, this segment of the entrepreneurial ecosystem is underserved by larger funds.

“We are pleased that five of our first 10 investments in Ballast Point Ventures III (a $164-million fund raised in early 2015) are based in Florida and three of those companies are based in Central Florida,” said Sean.

Similarly, IDEA Fund Partners is one of the most active seed and early-stage venture investors throughout the Southeast with stakes in three Florida companies, including one in The Corridor. With offices in North Carolina and Orlando, its managers review over 1,000 business plans a year, but typically make only one investment a month. This scenario is not uncommon among firms, said Founding Partner Richard Fox.

All three investors would agree success stems from investing not only in funds, but also in entrepreneurs. For Florida and The Corridor to advance the entrepreneurial ecosystem, assisting early-stage companies in the competitive environment is key. As Randy explained, venture capital money “chases talent more than technology.”

“We need to turn Florida into a destination for high potential and already successful entrepreneurs to move to.  Then, everything will take care of itself in time.”

Several groups across the region, such as NEXUS and Seed Tampa Bay, are aware of the challenges facing early-stage companies and are working to help company founders more easily access funds. Before entrepreneurs utter one word of their business pitch, however, much preparation is required. Investors are more likely to work with founders who possess strong business acumen, leadership capability, industry awareness and a realistic company valuation. They must also be adaptable.

“In all the companies we invested in that were successful, every one of them had to pivot because of outside influences, surprise competitors and deeper opportunities in adjacent areas,” explained Richard. “It’s not all about the brilliant idea; it’s whether the company has thought through every scenario.”

It’s not unusual, added Sean, for investment firms and entrepreneurs to build relationships long before any capital is raised.

“The most rewarding part of our job is developing relationships with entrepreneurs and working alongside them to help grow their businesses,” he said. “The entrepreneurial spirit is truly unique, and we are thrilled to be part of the growing ecosystem here.”

In the world of venture capital, progress begets progress. As early investments in some of The Corridor’s leading technology entrepreneurs are coming to fruition, the region faces immense potential. Crucial to growth is reinvestment by successful entrepreneurs. We need them to serve as angel investors and advisors for the next wave of pioneers. This cycle proves efficacy, enticing even more investors and entrepreneurs to The Corridor, where a favorable business tax climate, modern infrastructure, talented workforce and lifestyle amenities provide refuge from the rising costs and bloated markets of other high tech hubs.

 

Dick Brandewie, co-founder of Ballast Point Ventures in Tampa, remembered for ‘intellectual curiosity’ and love of people

Source:  Tampa Bay Business Journal

By:  Ashley Gurbal Kritzer

Dick Brandewie hadn’t been active at Ballast Point Ventures since 2012, but his colleagues at the Tampa private equity firm still invoke his one-liners on a regular basis.

Brandewie, who co-founded the firm in 2001, died July 14 at the age of 63 after a long illness, according to an obituary published Friday.

Full Article:  Tampa Bay Business Journal

 

Prepaid Technologies Appoints New President, CEO and Executive Chairman

Source:  Prepaid Technologies


BIRMINGHAM, Ala.July 10, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Prepaid Technologies, a leading provider of payment and rewards solutions announced multiple leadership changes today. Long-time prepaid industry executive Steve Fussell was hired as president and former president Stephen Faust has been promoted to CEO. Company founder and CEO Thomas Mcculley will now serve as executive chairman.

Steve Fussell is an industry leader whose extensive operations and technology experience is essential at a time when we’re investing in and experiencing immense growth,” said Thomas Mcculley. “As Steve concentrates on enhancing our technology offerings to support our entire product suite, Stephen Faust will accelerate his focus on growth, business development and key account management.”

“We’ve driven steady 20-30 percent year-over-year growth for the past five years, pacing well above industry growth estimates of 3-12 percent,” added Faust. “Steve’s expertise will bolster our ability to sustain this growth through the delivery of innovative business payments and reward products.”

Fussell is known for creating best-in-class operations and process solutions. His experience includes management of transaction processing, operations, credit, and prepaid in both startups and large public companies. He has held executive positions at UniRush, FSV Payment Systems, Netspend and Macy’s, among others. Most recently, Fussell consulted investment groups in the evaluation of financial service and technology companies.

“Prepaid is driving more innovation than any other payment platform today and will continue to be the rails for growth in virtual, contactless and peer-to-peer payments among others,” said Fussell. “As a provider of some of the most diverse payment and reward solutions across payroll, expense management and incentives, Prepaid Technologies is uniquely positioned to capitalize on market opportunities and I’m excited to lead the team as we support this growth.”

Since third quarter of 2017, the Prepaid Technologies team has also made several key hires in Birmingham as well as the addition of national payments leaders including Brian Thornsberry, who joined in November 2017 as senior vice president of business development and marketing.

About Prepaid Technologies

A pioneer in financial technology, Prepaid Technologies has been providing innovative electronic payment solutions including payroll, expense, gift, reward and incentive card products to employers, financial institutions, and government agencies for more than 20 years. Learn more at www.in-prepaid.com.

 

Up-and-coming Tampa musicians featured in six new Downtown Tampa playlists on Spotify

Source:  ABC Action News WFTS Tampa Bay

By:  Sean O’Reilly

TAMPA, Fla. — It just became easier to jog down Bayshore Boulevard or do yoga in Curtis Hixon Park while listening to up-and-coming Tampa musicians.

Symphonic Distribution and the Tampa Downtown Partnership worked together to create six new public playlists music on Spotify. Each playlist on the music streaming service offers a different experience for people living, working and playing in Tampa’s downtown neighbor.

“After moving our operations to the downtown area, we quickly realized that there is a great opportunity to connect this vibrant and dynamic area with the music that is being created in it,” said Janette Berrios, Director of Marketing for Symphonic Distribution.

The playlists features music from up-and-coming Tampa musicians, local favorites, indie music from around the globe and people performing in the monthly downtown music series, Rock the Park.

“We hope that listeners discover and experience the diversity, culture and incredible talent that our Tampa Bay area has to offer,” said Berrios.

Rock the Park is among the six playlists created by Symphonic. The others include Study Sessions, Tampa Riverwalk Run, Yoga in the Park, Zumba in the Park, and Pre-Game Party which is a tribute to Tampa Bay Lightning fans.

To view all the playlists, visit Tampa Downtown Partnership’s profile on Spotify at downtowntampamusic.com.

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