Category Archives: Venture Capital Industry
January 14, 2020
TAMPA, Fla., January 9, 2020 – Abacode, Inc., a Cybersecurity and Compliance services firm based in Tampa, FL, is excited to announce a $4.85 million Series A growth equity investment led by Ballast Point Ventures. Abacode will leverage the investment to scale its sales, security operations center and project execution teams, broaden its marketing efforts, and further enhance its technology-enabled service offering.
Abacode, a Managed Security Services Provider (“MSSP”), is a five-year-old company that is transforming the way businesses implement cybersecurity and compliance programs throughout the U.S. and abroad. Abacode has specific expertise in proactively monitoring, detecting, and responding to cyber threats in real-time through the Company’s 24/7 Security Operations Center. Abacode also provides a suite of Governance, Risk, and Compliance (“GRC”) Readiness services helping companies prepare for third-party audits and certifications. Among its many other professional services, the Company has a premier vulnerability assessment package along with digital forensic teams to assist companies in case of a suspected incident or breach. Abacode works with organizations ranging in size from mid-market businesses to publicly traded global enterprises.
CEO and Co-Founder Mike Ferris commented, “We are extremely excited to partner with Ballast Point Ventures as we continue our focus on building a world-class MSSP and invest heavily in scaling our service offerings. BPV was the right partner at the right time. Our visions are perfectly aligned in order to add unique value to our clients and partners alike.”
Current and emerging compliance mandates are forcing companies to take a different approach to how they manage internal data risk and cybersecurity needs going forward. This reality, combined with the flood of new technology products in the marketplace, has added additional complexity and confusion and is one of the primary reasons organizations are working with Abacode. “It’s very fulfilling to see so many market-leading companies reach out to us to help them consolidate their cybersecurity programs under one roof. Cybersecurity and compliance isn’t just a component of what we do, it’s our sole focus. We not only help drive enterprise strategy but also deliver and implement the most appropriate services and solutions. This is very unique in the market and the real value is providing client leadership a way to finally make holistic business-driven decisions instead of tactical product-driven decisions,” said Ferris.
“The Abacode team has made great progress growing its customer base, service offering, and organization during the Company’s short history,” said Ballast Point Ventures’ Sean Barkman, who will join the Abacode Board of Directors. “This is an exciting opportunity for BPV to partner with an impressive management team we have known for a few years now who are building a leading compliance-oriented cybersecurity business in a dynamic industry segment,” Sean also commented.
Abacode is a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP). The Company addresses client risk from a business strategy first and cyber technologies second (product agnostic) standpoint. This methodology ensures that technical and non-technical leadership teams are able to make unbiased business decisions that positively impact the entire organization. Abacode has become one of the fastest-growing MSSPs by empowering companies to have a Cyber Capability Maturity Model (CCMM) and consolidate all cybersecurity & compliance initiatives under one roof. Abacode has offices in the Americas and Europe. Learn more at https://abacode.com, https://www.linkedin.com/company/abacode-llc or email@example.com.
About Ballast Point Ventures
Ballast Point Ventures, headquartered in Tampa, Florida, is a later-stage venture capital and growth equity fund founded in 2002 to provide expansion capital for rapidly growing, privately-owned companies, with a particular emphasis on companies located in Florida, the Southeast and Texas. The BPV partners have more than 80 years of combined experience investing in and building high-growth companies in several industries, including software, technology-enabled business services, and healthcare. Ballast Point Ventures has $360 million under management across three Funds and seeks to make initial equity investments ranging in size from $4 million to $10 million. For additional information, visit www.ballastpointventures.com.
December 6, 2019
Florida has hundreds of miles of beaches on both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. It has the Everglades. It has Walt Disney World and all of that theme park’s offshoots, as well as competing parks from Universal and Sea World. And, in case we forget, it has oranges.
These eight tech companies in the Sunshine State have been making waves with their products and practices, and most are currently hiring! If you’ve ever thought about relocating to Florida, getting the lowdown on these companies is a good place to start!
Cloud Computing|SaaS|Cloud Management
Location: Orlando, FL
PowerDMS provides a cloud-based solution that helps organizations reduce risk and liability with a comprehensive compliance and content management solution. It provides the practical tools necessary to organize and manage crucial documents and industry standards, maintaining compliance for organizations.
November 21, 2019
Source: Tampa Magazine
By: McKenna Kelley
Tampa’s Symphonic Distribution helps the songs you love get from the recording studio to streaming platforms around the globe
You’ve probably listened to music on a streaming service like Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora or Amazon at some point recently (and considering the Recording Industry Association of America reports that streaming accounted for 80% of the music industry’s revenue in the first half of this year, that is a strong probably). But have you ever wondered how the music ended up on that service in the first place?
For a growing number of musicians, the answer is the Tampa company Symphonic Distribution. Founded by CEO Jorge Brea in 2006, Symphonic helps independent artists and record labels get their music on streaming platforms and into the ears of listeners around the world. Musicians upload their audio files, artwork and metadata once to Symphonic’s system, and Symphonic distributes those files according to each streaming platform’s specifications. Royalties are also collected and distributed in one place, saving artists time and energy across the board.
“For the artist, that means they can just focus on their art form,” instead of the business side of music, Brea says. For consumers, a simpler method of distribution means more music is available to discover than ever before. “[Listeners’] tastes will evolve and become much more advanced because there’s much more new music from different regions that’s easily getting on these platforms,” Brea adds.
Brea was born in the Dominican Republic, and his family moved to Tampa when he was 7. Drawing on his Latin American roots, plus his background as a DJ and producer, Symphonic first focused on distributing electronic and Latin artists. A number of them have become global superstars; Symphonic distributed some of the early works of Daddy Yankee (who has more than 43 million monthly listeners on Spotify), Ozuna (more than 30 million, and one of the industry’s fastest-rising Latin stars) and J Balvin, Spotify’s fourth-most streamed artist in the world last year. The company has also worked with artists like Black Thought of The Roots and Deadmau5. “We’ve always been kind of in the beginning of these folks’ careers,” Brea says.
Beyond just distributing music, Symphonic helps its artists with marketing and social media to grow their brands and platforms. Artists and labels must apply to work with the company. Brea says his team typically looks for musicians who are already gaining traction on streaming — with around 50,000 to 100,000 monthly listeners — and labels with a deep existing catalog.
“Those are great starting points for us because those are [groups] we feel we can just turn up to 11, so to speak, and then grow,” Brea explains.
As Symphonic has expanded to have offices in Brooklyn, Denver, Nashville and Bogotá, Colombia, as well as a presence in China, Brea says he’s proud to have the opportunity to introduce others in the music industry to Tampa. One way Symphonic does that is through the annual Vibes of the Bay music festival, which highlights some of Tampa’s best up-and-coming talent each year in Ybor City.
“Our entire client base is finding out about these artists from Tampa, and we’re very proud to be able to do that,” Brea says.
Brea sees the education of artists in Tampa and beyond as one of Symphonic’s most crucial roles. The company is starting to host artist-focused panels and lectures on topics like industry trends, plus how-tos on monetizing your music. As they make a strong push into the hip-hop genre, Symphonic made a splash earlier this year with their inaugural Rap Con in New York City, which featured a keynote address by Killer Mike from the Grammy-nominated rap group Run the Jewels.
“I think there’s a lot of great talent [in Tampa], and I just think there isn’t enough education yet,” Brea says. “We’re trying to do our best to do that, in terms of how to get the music out there, how to properly develop and establish your brand. We’re not the type of company that wants to just put music up. We want to actually add value and educate and help guide individuals through their careers.”
Symphonic got a boost in late 2017 in the form of a $4 million investment from Tampa’s Ballast Point Ventures. Brea says that funding has helped him hire the senior staff the company needs to become increasingly competitive and raise Symphonic’s profile around the globe. Now that the industry has stabilized in the post-CD and digital download world, Brea says Symphonic plans to continue growing alongside the music business and Tampa.
Full article: https://tampamagazines.com/symphonic-distribution/
September 23, 2019
Source: South Florida Business Journal
By: Emon Reiser
July 1, 2019
TissueTech, Inc., the pioneer in regenerative medicine utilizing human umbilical cord and amniotic membrane, today announced the closing of an $82.25 million round of Preferred C equity financing led by EW Healthcare Partners (formerly Essex Woodlands) and followed by the third round of continuous investments from Ballast Point Ventures.
The funds will primarily be used to pursue regulatory approvals from the FDA for several of its development projects to comply with the agency’s new guidance documents and support ongoing commercial development. Investments will be made to transform technical operations to Good Manufacturing Practice to produce biologics products. A part of the funds will be used to liquidate a previous preferred investor and recapitalize some common shareholdings.
As part of the transaction, Martin Sutter, Managing Director and Co-Founder of EW, and William “Bill” A. Hawkins, III, Senior Advisor at EW and former Chairman and CEO of Medtronic, have joined TissueTech’s Board of Directors. Matt Rice, who is a partner of Ballast Point Ventures healthcare practice, will continue to serve as a Board member, and John Arnott, an accomplished global healthcare executive, will continue to serve as an independent member of the Board.
“TissueTech, and its wholly owned subsidiaries Amniox Medical, Inc. and Bio-Tissue, Inc., have pioneered the research, development and clinical application of umbilical cord and amniotic membrane technology for use in the ophthalmology, optometry, musculoskeletal and wound care markets,” Sutter said. “We have followed TissueTech’s impressive growth over the past few years and are proud to now be able to partner with them as they look to further scale up and transform from a tissue-based manufacturer to a biologics therapy provider. We’re excited about the significant opportunities ahead for the company.”
“The closing of this round of equity financing provides us with additional resources not only for research and clinical trials supporting product development but also to strengthen our commercial efforts,” said Amy Tseng, founder and Chief Executive Officer for TissueTech. “We’ve seen great results to-date with our clinical studies. I am very pleased to have an opportunity to partner with EW and Ballast Point, firms with great expertise in the field of regenerative therapies. I look forward to working with Marty Sutter and Bill Hawkins and am greatly appreciative of Matt Rice and John Arnott’s continuing endorsement of our mission to help build TissueTech into a world-class regenerative biologics company in the coming years.”
TissueTech’s portfolio of currently available commercial products are designed to provide better surgical and therapeutic outcomes for ocular surface injury and disease, chronic and complex wounds, orthopedics, sports medicine, spine, urology, gynecology, plastic and general surgery. The company’s Bio-Tissue portfolio of products contains the only cryopreserved amniotic membrane that has been designated by the FDA as anti-scarring, anti-inflammatory and anti-angiogenic on the ocular surface. Clinicians have performed more than 500,000 human implants with the company’s products and more than 300 peer-reviewed studies supporting its platform technology have been published.
About TissueTech, Inc.
TissueTech, Inc., the parent company of Amniox Medical, Inc. and BioTissue, Inc., pioneered the development and clinical application of human placental tissue-based products. Founded in 1997, Bio-Tissue markets products for the ophthalmology and optometry markets; and Amniox markets products for use in the musculoskeletal and wound care markets. Clinicians have performed more than 500,000 human implants with the company’s products and published more than 300 peer-reviewed studies supporting its technology platform. The Company’s first product, AmnioGraft®, is the only tissue graft designated by the FDA as homologous use for promoting ophthalmic wound healing. Learn more at http://www.tissuetech.com.
About EW Healthcare Partners
With over $3.0 billion under management, EW Healthcare Partners is one of the largest and oldest growth equity firms pursuing investments in pharmaceuticals, medical devices, healthcare services, and healthcare information technology. Since its founding in 1985, EW Healthcare Partners has maintained its singular commitment to the healthcare industry and has been involved in the founding, investing and/or management of over 150 healthcare companies, ranging across sectors, stages and geographies. The team is comprised of over 20 senior investment professionals with offices in Palo Alto, Houston, New York, and London. For more information, see http://www.ewhealthcare.com.
About Ballast Point Ventures
Ballast Point Ventures, headquartered in Tampa, Florida, is a later-stage venture capital and growth equity fund founded in 2002 to provide expansion capital for rapidly growing, privately owned companies, with a particular emphasis on companies located in Florida, the Southeast and Texas. The BPV partners have more than 80 years of combined experience investing in and building high-growth companies in several industries, including healthcare, software, technology-enabled business services and consumer. BPV has $360 million under management across three funds and seeks to make initial equity investments ranging in size from $4 million to $10 million. For more information, visit http://www.ballastpointventures.com.
June 17, 2019
By: Billboard Staff
The independent music sector is larger and stronger than ever.
As the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) convenes Indie Week in New York June 17-20, executives and artists can celebrate the growth of the worldwide indie music business.
Independent labels generated $6.9 billion in global music sales in 2017 (the most recent estimated figure), up from $6.2 billion the previous year, according to a report released late last year by Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), an umbrella organization for indie trade groups, including A2IM.
JORGE BREA, 34
Founder/CEO, Symphonic Distribution
“Independence is the ability to be reactive [and] pivot,” says Brea, who knows a thing or two about pivoting. Moving early in his life from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic to Tampa, Fla., Brea spent his teen years working as a DJ-producer and releasing original music on vinyl, which inspired the creation of Symphonic Distribution when he was only 21. Today, he connects indie acts of all genres to streaming platforms and recently announced that his company had expanded its presence in Nashville and Bogota, Colombia. “We’ve been able to grow 35% year over year for the past five years,” he says, adding that while one of the strongest regions for streaming is Latin America, new artists are breaking out from African countries and the Middle East.
Full Article: Billboard
June 4, 2019
Source: The Post and Courier
By: Mary Katherine Wildeman
A communications technology firm has tripled its office space in Charleston on the heels of a first fund-raising round and a growth spurt.
Avoxi’s CEO said it grew out of an office overlooking the Cooper River and plans to expand its team. The move comes as the company has put its focus on building its inventory.
Avoxi provides an alternative to pricey land lines by selling subscriptions to so-called virtual numbers that enable businesses and customers worldwide to communicate relatively cheaply via the internet. They also sell cloud software that helps companies manage their call centers.
These phone lines appeal to businesses looking to expand their reach overseas. Many companies sell the numbers, which don’t require a traditional telephone with a dial pad and receiver.
A bigger inventory of those phone numbers up for sale on the Avoxi website has helped to spur growth.
Avoxi has set up in a new office on upper King Street, sharing a parking lot with The Daily coffee shop and Atlatl, another local tech firm. The move from its former offices triples the company’s space.
The Atlanta-based company says it has built the world’s largest coverage area, now selling phone numbers in 160 countries, up from 20 in January 2018. The numbers are now available to buy from Japan to Pakistan to Kenya. Companies that want to expand overseas can buy phone numbers through Avoxi with an area code familiar to locals, improving the chances they will be able to reach customers.
“For our clients, this gives them the ability to reach those markets instantly,” David Wise, Avoxi’s CEO, said.
David Wise is CEO of Avoxi, an Atlanta-based company with a growing presence in Charleston.
Building the company’s footprint and inventory has had the intended effect, Wise said. In the last six months, he said the company has grown its customer base by 50 percent.
The company was founded in Georgia and expanded to Charleston in 2015. Wise, who is from Mount Pleasant, splits his time between Atlanta, where Avoxi employs about 50 workers, and the Lowcountry.
He plans to hire 10 more employees at the Charleston outpost, bringing the total by the end of the year to roughly 30 employees in the area. The company employed fewer than 10 people in Charleston in 2016.
A transformation for the company came in 2015 when it decided to make a move to Charleston, Wise said. Back then, Avoxi was still selling software it didn’t make itself. When the Charleston office opened, Wise said the company resolved to create its own products. The firm has developed software that helps to manage call centers, also sold on a subscription basis.
Founded in 2001, the company waited nearly 20 years to take any startup funding. In December, the firm announced it had secured $10 million from Florida-based Ballast Point Ventures, which has invested in close to two dozen tech companies in the Southeast and Texas, according to its website.
Wise called the funding “go-go money.” The company is spending it on expanding its inventory and customer base. It’s a notable sum for the Charleston area, where venture capital for tech firms is in short supply.
Avoxi’s rates range from about $4.50 to $71 per month.
May 6, 2019
We saw this column by our friend, Frank Williamson of Oaklyn Consulting, in the Memphis Business Journal and thought it was excellent. Frank captures well the way we, and many others in the Southeast, like to do business and both the importance and pleasure of focusing on building long term relationships.
Source: Memphis Business Journal
As a Southerner by birth, I grew up in a culture where manners were of paramount importance.
When interacting with authority figures and peers, I came to understand the social benefits of maintaining proper eye contact, saying “please” and “thank you,” and having a firm handshake.
Yet, out in the professional world, I’ve been struck by how the continued value of these and other niceties isn’t commonly discussed. According to some studies, social skills are 85 percent responsible for personal success, as opposed to 15 percent from learned technical skills.
Out of the 10 U.S. cities boasting the highest levels of business growth, seven are located right here in the South, according to a recent CNBC article. The past five years have seen huge levels of business and employment growth in Southern cities, including Nashville, Orlando, and Charleston, South Carolina.
I don’t think this is a coincidence. Although our region’s economic success certainly can’t be attributed to solely etiquette, as a Southern business owner, I feel that it has played a part in businesses deciding to establish themselves here.
With civility seemingly on the decline in our world, it’s worth thinking about how we can incorporate this general attitude of courtesy into both our work and personal lives.
Respect in the negotiation process
First impressions are everything. When you treat a business partner with a lack of respect during the process of making a deal, you shouldn’t count on the relationship continuing. But, by bringing a different attitude to the negotiation process — treating it as an opportunity for both sides to solve a problem rather than as a situation where only one side wins — you have the potential to build a relationship that extends beyond a single deal and may result in a more mutually beneficial agreement.
In my experience, those who adopt the attitude of a hard bargainer are being short-sighted, trying to extract some kind of immediate value from a deal instead of seeing it as the first step in a lasting partnership. Naturally, you have to prioritize your interests in any negotiation, but empathizing with what the other party hopes to achieve can make a huge difference in the way you relate to each other.
I saw this dynamic play out recently with a client, a family-owned business that was up for sale. One buyer stood out from the others by the level of consideration he showed toward the family, which was understandably concerned with continuing its legacy. The buyer’s approach took into account the benefits of maintaining a strong, lasting relationship, while keeping his own business interests in mind. In the end, both parties felt the sale was a positive experience.
Balancing work and life
Some business owners may disagree with me, but I believe that the time we spend away from work is as valuable as the time we spend building our businesses. It may not always seem wise to leave work undone just so you can make it home for a family dinner. But, there’s a good argument to be made that the Southern tradition of keeping a healthy work/life balance has the long-term benefit of setting up the next generation for success.
I’m not advocating giving short shrift to business matters. However, there is real value to leaving the office at 5 p.m., staying largely offline during dinner and through the evening, and letting your home life be your primary focus until the next morning.
A major part of Southern civility is our continued devotion to passing on our values to each successive generation, both in our families and through nonprofits. By putting time and effort into this, we raise up a new generation that will eventually enter adulthood with an understanding of how Southern etiquette can be applied to their personal lives and business relationships.
Memphis Business Journal Article: https://bit.ly/2PQLV7v
April 18, 2019
The individual income tax-rate cuts of the 1980s helped make LLCs the default business structure for startups – but the 2017 reduction in corporate tax rates, coupled with the capital gains tax rate increases in the 2010s, have changed the dynamic.
As last week’s Wall Street Journal explains in “Startups Discover the Allure of the C Corporation,” in some circumstances the ‘C’ structure creates potential tax benefits for entrepreneurs and their investors:
For years, Mr. Bisges started ventures using limited-liability companies, known for their flexibility and tax advantages. But when Mr. Bisges and his nephew, Aaron, started planning StillFire Brewing, their accountant suggested the C corporation.
Mr. Bisges is pinning this part of his business plan on Section 1202 of the Internal Revenue Code, an underused provision expanded under Mr. Obama, and one that is gaining new attention after the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made it more attractive.
The strategy is particularly advantageous for business founders who expect to start small, keep earnings inside the company, make annual profits and then cash out. If a taxpayer holds C corporation stock for five years and follows the technical rules, capital-gains taxes on a subsequent sale get erased—on gains up to $10 million or 10 times the original investment, whichever is greater.
In a nutshell, the article argues that it may now be tax advantageous for entrepreneurs to realize their profits in the form of long-term capital gains instead of ordinary income because they can exclude from federal income tax 100% of the gain from the sale of qualified small business stock.
LLCs, S-Corps, and C-Corps each offer different advantages and restrictions, and choosing poorly can lead to expensive and difficult changes down the road. There are many complexities and issues to consider and no one right answer. Just as people shouldn’t decide to have children for the tax benefits, we advise founders to not view tax considerations in a vacuum when choosing the legal structure for their businesses. They need to think hard about the long term goals for the business and seek expert advice on the optimal legal structure.
You can, however, reduce the number of future headaches (and possibly legal bills) if you choose the structure that is most appropriate for both your current situation and your long-term objectives. Aside from avoiding personal exposure to business liabilities, the main considerations when choosing from among the three structures are tax consequences and corporate governance issues.
We ourselves have invested in both C’s and LLC’s, and have found the defined governance structure of a C-corp is almost always preferable. For a more expansive view of our thinking on the subject, we recommend you check out our 2010 white paper, To LLC or Not to LLC.
March 20, 2019
Source: Prepaid Technologies
Deal more than doubles Prepaid Technologies’ purchasing card portfolio, adds exciting new product enhancements for the business payments leader
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., March 20, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Prepaid Technologies, a leading provider of business payment solutions, announced the acquisition of Karmic Labs’ dash™, the San Francisco-based purchasing card portfolio and expense management solution, as well as other select assets.
The deal, which closed on March 1, 2019, adds several members of Karmic’s key personnel to the Prepaid Technologies team, with team members now operating throughout North America. The addition of the dash platform also adds a robust expense management solution and extensive card portfolio to the Prepaid Technologies suite of offerings, including payroll programs, business purchasing cards, reward and incentives and per-diem card offerings. Current Karmic and dash customers will benefit from an expanded range of services, products, and resources including Prepaid Technologies’ dedicated customer support.
“Integrating the dash purchasing card structure into our existing portfolio increases efficiencies and enhances our growing suite of solutions for businesses and payments service providers,” said Prepaid Technologies CEO, Stephen Faust. “This cardholder portfolio more than doubles our existing expense management business, elevating purchasing to the level of our payroll, incentive and rewards lines of business.”
Prepaid Technologies’ solutions provide customers with a mobile-focused platform enabling business owners to move money in real-time to individual cards and accounts for everyday purchases. It also empowers administrators with key insights into spending, providing better control in the expense reconciliation process. These solutions are significantly enhancing traditional payments for many business segments, particularly universities and municipalities.
“The addition of dash is another prime example of how we’re fulfilling our commitment to provide the broadest suite of payment solutions to our partners and commercial clients, with a focus on quality,” said Faust.
Over the next several months, Prepaid Technologies will integrate the dash portfolio into its service offering, working diligently to transition existing clients, while also providing them with access to additional payments and business management solutions including:
- Revolutionary payroll card programs that improves bottom-line performance and provide value to employees.
- Reward and incentive cards to support stronger customer and employee relationships.
- State-of-the-art API Payment Integrations that transform internal operations, speed-up payments and create operational efficiencies.
For the past 20 years, Prepaid Technologies has built an extraordinary reputation as a trusted partner and advisor in prepaid payments, helping bank partners and clients deliver efficient and meaningful payment experiences, from concept to cardholder. Learn more at in-prepaid.com.
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.
Prepaid Technologies is celebrating 20 years as a leader in the business payments space. Learn more about our history and vision for the future at https://www.in-prepaid.com/prepaid-technologies-marks-20-years-of-prepaid-innovation-and-success/