For tech startups in Florida, these venture capital firms offer the best sources of capital and operational support in the region.
Over the last few years, the conversation around funding and where you can scale startups has been slowly changing. The narrative has shifted away from the belief that successful startups can only be born and scaled in Silicon Valley or New York. With eyes elsewhere in the country, Florida is also jumping into the spotlight.
Florida’s startup landscape has nearly 500,000 accredited investors at different stages — from seed to late-stage series. Angel and seed rounds make up 59 percent of all the venture deals in Florida. These founders are fostering innovation in virtual reality, AI, blockchain, autonomous vehicles, and IoT industries. Each founder is able to tap into Florida’s more than 60 incubators and accelerators to grow their idea into a scalable product.
The state’s growing tech ecosystem is capturing the attention of large enterprises and veteran tech leaders and investors. In 2016, Bill Gates and Jeff Vinik came together to make significant investment in Tampa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The Nielsen Foundation currently powers Tampa Way Wave’s TechDiversity 90-day Accelerator for underrepresented founders.
Former AOL CEO Steve Case, who now travels the country in the Rise of the Rest tour to meet startup founders in often overlooked cities, added Miami to his tour and dispensed an investment to a local startup.
The entrepreneurial hustle in the area is electrifying. A study recently found that the city is home to the most co-working spaces in the country. Several innovation centers and mentorship programs have set up in Miami, including internationally acclaimed Endeavor. After investing in two startups, venture capital fund Silicon Valley’s 500 Startups opened an office downtown. Most recently, South Florida saw a high-profile exit with online pets goods retailer Chewy.com.
It’s not hard to see why Florida is moving up. As a startup founder with an early-stage SaaS startup with a strong A-team in place, it can be difficult to enter the growth stage without funding.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the top early stage and growth stage investors in the state of Florida and a little more about what they’re looking for. This list is not exhaustive by any means, but it will give you a high-view of the VC players in the state—and please bookmark the article and keep an eye out for additions in the months to come.
PS27 Ventures (Jacksonville)
Venture capitalist firm and accelerator PS27 Ventures specializes in investments in early-stage startups in SaaS, health tech, e-commerce, and fintech startups. With values like think big, be real, embrace failure, and remember why — PS27 Ventures supports founders through it all. For its accelerator, the firm brings in select startups to work side-by-side and support them with resources, mentorship, and connections.
"PS27 not only provides capital, we also provide content designed for startups and connections to industry experts," PS27 Ventures' founder, Jim Stallings, told us. "Startup teams typically spend an entire year in our program mastering the basics of their financial model and refining their go-to-market plan. The founder is surrounded by our team of experienced professionals working side by side every day to ensure their success."
Ballast Point Ventures (Tampa)
Growth-stage firm Ballast Point Ventures focus on startups in healthcare, business, communications, information technology, financial services, and consumer/retail industries. The team puts a strong focus on the Southeast and finding exceptional startup founders in their backyard. They're looking for companies that have a proven business model, well-built leadership team, and promising road map toward growth.
Axioma Ventures (Tampa)
With a focus on expansion capital, venture capital firm Axioma Ventures looks to accelerate the growth of the startup it works with. While a relatively new firm in the Tampa area, the team comes with great pedigree from Fortune 100 executive leadership, including the former CEO of Publix.
Ocean Azul Partners (Miami)
Early-stage venture capital firm Ocean Azul Partners was founded in 2017. The firm seeks long-term partnerships with passionate founders with innovative solutions to problems within agtech, marketing, biotech, and others. Transparency, resilience, teamwork, and commitment are values they look to share with the founding team. The funding from Ocean Azul Partners should be earmarked for growth after initial traction.
Krillion Ventures (Miami)
Venture capital firm Krillion Ventures seeks companies that are "one in a krillion." Although they started industry agnostic, the early-stage firm now heavily invests in startups solving issues in healthcare, financial services, and real estate.
In a Miami Herald interview, managing partner Melissa Krinzman shared what they're looking for in a startup founder: "We have backed entrepreneurs who believe passionately in their goals to solve a problem but who, at the same time, are willing to learn and be flexible. We believe that passion, tenacity and fearlessness are essential. But if not mixed with the ability to accept and process feedback, we’ve seen these three attributes quickly become negatives."
Quixotic Ventures (Miami)
Led by long-time entrepreneur Mark Kingdon, early-stage firm Quixotic Ventures focuses on social media, e-commerce, and digital media platforms. He currently has four companies with a billion-plus evaluation each in his portfolio. "When I look at a company, I can pretty quickly understand the size, dynamics and attractiveness of the market, the uniqueness of the company’s proposition and the strengths of the team," Kingdon says in one of his blog post.
Las Olas Venture Capital (Ft. Lauderdale)
Early-stage fund Las Olas Venture Capital focuses on enterprise software, digital healthcare, tech-enabled business services, fintech, and edtech — mainly on solutions that can optimize the way the world runs. The firm has made 50+ investments with three successful exits, with a preference for startups that have already shown product market fit to help them scale.
DeepWork Capital (Orlando)
Previously known as FAN Fund, venture capital firm DeepWork Capital is committed to help high-growth, disruptive companies in cloud computing, healthtech, on-demand services, and business solutions. The Florida-based team has a hands-on approach to mentoring and investing the select startups in their portfolio.
Venture firm Arsenal shares that their focus is on "execution risk." They look for founders attempting to grow new technologies with recurring revenue and high growth opportunities in enterprise, logistics, and healthcare IT. The firm's investments have also gone through acquisition and exit paths multiple times.
Based in Winter Park, venVelo focuses on early-stage startups with a high touch approach to mentoring. They look for startups with early revenue, open to coachability to set up effective go-t0 market strategies and mentoring.
Even the best business ideas can fall flat if the team doesn't have fundraising power to help them with development and bringing their product to market. The VC firms listed above each offer a strong approach to supporting startup teams and providing valuable connections and guidance to expedite business growth. They're a testament to the fact that you don't need to move Silicon Valley to connect with resources to grow your startup—look to the Sunshine State instead.
(Are we missing your Florida venture capital firm? Send us a note with more info at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll be happy to consider it for inclusion.)
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