Experienced Angel Investing Launches in West Palm Beach

(West Palm Beach, FL) January 11th, 2017 -- Florida Angel Nexus (“NEXUS”) launched its first angel investing group in South Florida; the NEXUS Palm Beach inaugural event was held on Wednesday, January 11th, at the West Palm Beach offices of Gunster.

With a breathtaking view of the intracoastal from the Gunster offices on Flagler Drive, five companies presented themselves to qualified investors from Palm Beach, Florida. NEXUS Palm Beach founding members, Beth Corson of Boardwalk Advisors, LLC and A.J. Ripin of Merging Traffic worked alongside NEXUS  Chairman & founder Michael O’Donnell , NEXUS Director & founder Blaire Martin, and Caroline Castille of NEXUS Investor Relations to showcase early-stage companies at the well-received event.                 

As Palm Beach County continues to expand its infrastructure to support startups, we intend to cultivate this strong momentum into long-term sustainability and growth,” said Founding Member of NEXUS Palm Beach, A.J. Ripin.

Investor attendance hit a new record for NEXUS.

We were thrilled to be a part of the inaugural event for the Florida Angel Nexus. We look forward to being a part of future events as the chapter grows in South Florida,” said David Bates, Shareholder and Chair of Technology and Entrepreneurial Companies Practice Group of Gunster.

During this invite-only event, five early-stage companies from around the state presented to Florida’s top investors. The presenting companies have technologies from various industries such as pet healthcare tech, food/beverage tech, and environmental/clean tech.

I cannot overemphasize the important role startup companies – and the investors who drive them toward success – have in building the economy,” said David Day, Director of the Office of Technology Licensing and Vice President of Technology Transfer at the University of Florida. “Entrepreneurs have vision. They see a need and attempt to meet it and work incredibly long hours to make it happen. It’s exciting to see angel investors come alongside and give startups the support they need.”

The five presenting companies included Trimauxil, Actionable Quality Assurance, Intecrowd LLC, Paleoganic, and Aquaco Farms. Trimauxil, AuxThera LLC's flagship product, is a prescription dog food supplement supporting weight loss in companion dogs and addresses the #1 health issue facing companion animals today.  Actionable Quality Assurance is a SaaS technology company that provides a digital, automated platform to minimize food safety risks built specifically for restaurants. Intecrowd LLC is a Workday services and software partner focused on cloud-based system integration. As companies continue to install Workday's enterprise applications, integrating them with other enterprise systems is critical for successful deployments and efficient operations, which Intecrowd builds. PaleoGanic develops and distributes delicious, nutritious soups made of super foods that improve the immune system without harmful ingredients. AquaCo Farms has a grow-out facility designed to be one of the largest, most sought after and credible fish source for Pompano, with zero impact on the wild population. Their aquaculture model can be realized in many other locations as well.

Florida Angel Nexus works with many institutions, accelerators, and incubators to connect early-stage companies with potential qualified investors.

“This is a very exciting moment in the maturation of Florida's innovation economy," said CEO, Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research, Dr. Jackson Streeter. "The new companies and critical products spawning from Florida's great universities is tremendous. The Institute welcomes NEXUS Palm Beach to the community as we all work together to accelerate investment and job growth across Florida.”

Since 2013, NEXUS members have invested $12.1 million into 47 companies, a total of $19.5 million including co-investors outside NEXUS. In addition, hundreds of companies have received feedback, mentorship, and network connections. NEXUS investors are confident in having access to a quality deal flow in emerging growth companies to evaluate. 

Investors can contact caroline@floridaangelnexus.com if they wish to learn more about NEXUS and attend a NEXUS event. Invitations are open to accredited investors only.

FAN FUND COMPLETES INITIAL CLOSING - New Angel Fund Focused on Florida Companies

(Orlando, FL) – FAN Investors I GP, LLC (“FAN”) is pleased to announce the initial closing of FAN Investors Fund I, LP with capital in excess of $5 million. FAN was established to invest capital and seek appreciation in growth-oriented seed and early stage technology and life science companies within the State of Florida.

FAN believes Florida is an emerging market with excellent fundamentals, with particular strength in many key technology and life science sectors, and a growing infrastructure to support entrepreneurial efforts. The Fund intends to target and invest in companies that the Fund's Investment Committee believes will provide favorable returns and that will benefit from a blend of in-state financing and management guidance. FAN intends to continue working closely with organizations like Florida Angel Nexus (“NEXUS”), a not-for-profit entity where the concept of a professionally managed and committed fund originated and whose purpose is to coordinate, educate and grow the community of angel investors and to promote the entrepreneurial environment in Florida.

"We differentiate ourselves by pairing angel capital and active participation by our principals, advisors, and selected subject matter experts with an objective of seeking capital appreciation for our portfolio companies,” said Mitchel Laskey, managing director of FAN. “Our interests include assisting entrepreneurs in building technology and life science companies here in Florida, economic development by creating jobs, and building a place for our children and grandchildren to stay and take leadership roles”.

The Fund will commence operations and investment activities immediately, but will continue to accept investor subscriptions over the next several months and plans to have additional closing(s).

About FAN Fund:

The FAN Fund was established to invest professionally managed angel capital in growth-oriented companies in the technology and life science sectors in Florida. The Fund’s focus is in companies that that are in seed or early stages. The Fund takes a hands-on approach with its portfolio companies, and works closely with members of the Florida Angel Nexus (“NEXUS”), an entity whose purpose is to coordinate, educate and grow the community of angel investors in emerging companies and to promote the entrepreneurial environment in Florida. For additional information please see http://www.thefan.fund.

We appreciate your support in sharing this information. Please contact us for additional information or to arrange any media interviews.

Mitchel Laskey
Managing Director
(407) 641-5586

NewSci Raises $500,000 Seed Round - Company is First in Tallahassee Nexus Chapter to Receive Funding

Tallahassee, FL, August 10, 2015 – NewSci, LLC, a leading provider of Insight-as-a-Service to the education, healthcare, and social sectors, announced today the successful close of its seed round totaling $500,000 led by members of the Florida Angel Nexus in Tallahassee and Orlando. The company will use the funds to build its sales team and to expand its work with IBM Watson™ cognitive applications.

NewSci, a Findability Sciences Group Company, provides an intelligent platform combining Big Data and Cognitive Computing technology. Since its founding in late 2013, NewSci has worked with major universities, healthcare systems and non-profits including Lehigh University, Mercy Health and United Way agencies across the country.

“As organizations seek to adopt an insight-driven culture, NewSci’s Findability Platform™ provides the technology and domain expertise to support it,” said David Lawson, Co-Founder & CEO of NewSci. “Education, healthcare, and nonprofit organizations need Big Data and cognitive computing to pull together the enormous sets of data created by the many relationships they rely on and to transform that data into actionable insights.”

NewSci is the first startup company to receive funding from members of the Tallahassee chapter of the Florida Angel Nexus, a statewide network of angel investors seeking to invest in high-growth ventures.

“NewSci was clearly a great investment opportunity due to its seasoned management team and large market opportunity,” said Nexus member Matt Johnson. Johnson went on to say that NewSci’s successful seed round is indicative of the changing investor culture in and around Tallahassee. “This is a milestone moment for startups and angel investors in the Tallahassee community,” Johnson said. “Already we are seeing more local startups attracting local investment, which is critical to the long-term growth and vitality of the economy.”


8 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Pitching to Investors

By Rick Frasch Souce: http://www.forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2013/07/09/8-mistakes-entrepreneurs-make-when-pitching-to-investors/2/ 

One of my grown children called me the other day to ask if I knew of anyone who could help review a business plan for a startup technology company. Rather than offer a referral to someone else, I thought it would be easier to provide some fatherly advice and craft the following list of 8 mistakes that entrepreneurs often make when pitching to investors. During the last 15 years living and working in Silicon Valley, I have been a partner in a technology venture capital fund and most recently an angel investor. Before that I was finance and M&A lawyer for 20 years. So I thought my “fatherly advice” would be well received. Imagine my surprise when I received this email the following day: “Dad, I asked you to introduce me to someone who knows something about startups, not give me advice!”

Rather than waste my carefully considered advice, I offer it instead to you:

1. The Elevator Pitch Is Longer Than One Minute

If your “elevator pitch” is longer than one minute, you will have a very difficult time raising money because you will not have enough time to make a compelling investment case. This opportunity will likely arise in an elevator, at a cocktail party, or ever so carefully wedged between small talk with friends and their acquaintances. So you must make the pitch short and to the point, and make sure it showcases your knowledge.

The only way to accomplish all of the above is to have a well-crafted pitch that takes no longer than a minute to deliver in an unhurried — but practiced — manner. Any longer and the potential investor will most likely have moved on either physically or mentally. Needless to say, this is not easy. You must be able to condense all of the information in your PowerPoint presentation (see 2 below) and business plan (see 3 below) into a brief summary.

2. The PowerPoint Presentation (aka “the Deck”) Is Too Long
If you have been successful in the elevator pitch, you must be able to present a slide presentation in about 15 minutes, then leave time to answer questions within another 15 minutes (see 8 below). Although you may be granted more time, you must also prepare for the possibility of lesstime, so you need to ensure you get your main business points across before the investor conveniently excuses himself due to a “prior commitment.” Bottom line: 15 minutes of presentation means no more than 12 to 15 slides.Professional investors, such as venture capitalists and serious angel investors, do not have long attention spans. The reason is not necessarily that they have attention deficit disorders but that they need to consider, evaluate, and choose among so many startup investment proposals that 30 minutes of uninterrupted time is all you can reasonably expect to have to present your proposal.

3. Not Having a Factually Supported, Well-Written Executive Summary

At the end of the day, the key to raising money is to have a carefully thought-out summary of the investment proposal (aka “the executive summary” or, the longer form, “business plan”).

When raising money, you need to interest VCs or angel investors with the elevator speech and PowerPoint presentation, but you only close on the money after the investor reviews, questions, and buys in to your entire business plan. So you must spend a significant amount of time drafting a coherent and persuasive executive summary or business plan that sets forth, among other things:

  • the problem that the startup will be solving
  • the size of the market the startup will be addressing
  • a sustainable competitive advantage
  • the expected revenues and costs of the startup that are supported by realistic and detailed assumptions and projections
  • a description of the startup’s management team
  • the exit for the investors (see 4 below)

The best elevator speech in the world will not result in any money unless you can deliver an analytical and believable business plan explaining how an investment in the startup will make its investors rich.

While there are a few experienced entrepreneurs out there who can do this in an evening, you should plan to spend weeks, if not months, perfecting a business plan — otherwise the time spent on the elevator speech and PowerPoint will have been wasted.

4. Overlooking a Realistic Exit Strategy for Investors

An entrepreneur’s thinking process is often to make the world a better place, create a long-term business that will keep him or her engaged and richly employed, and bequeath a legacy that will take care of the entrepreneur’s children and their children. In contrast, the investor’s thinking process is usually “How do I make a lot of money in a short to moderate time frame (3 to 7 years)?” Guess whose thinking process controls whether the entrepreneur closes on an investment?

Therefore, you must ensure your PowerPoint presentation and business plan address how the investor will make money (aka “the exit”) from investing in your business proposal. Many entrepreneurs never address this basic need of investors. To avoid this oversight, you must be prepared to answer an investor’s questions about how the investment will be monetized through, among other things, licensing agreements with larger companies or a strategic sale of itself to a larger company, not just an IPO scenario in which you see yourself becoming CEO of a Fortune 500 company (something that almost never happens).

Unless the entrepreneur has a business idea on the order of “Son of Google,” most professional investors, including both VCs and serious angel investors, will not sign an NDA because they know that there is a strong likelihood that they will have seen the idea before and will likely see it many more times in the future. Consequently, they cannot sign a document that will surely lead them to a lawsuit in the future from either this particular entrepreneur or another one.5. Asking for a Non-Disclosure Agreement

Almost all entrepreneurs are convinced their business idea will result in enormous wealth and, therefore, is at risk of being stolen by an unscrupulous investor. So their first thought is to have the potential investor sign a “bulletproof” non-disclosure agreement (“NDA”). But for many professional investors, such a request is a non-starter, meaning there is no longer any reason to see the 12-slide PowerPoint or incredibly detailed business plan.

6. Submitting Investment Proposals “Over the Transom”

Raising money is all about building credibility with investors. No investor wants to invest in a deal that nobody else is interested in pursuing. Investors are very herd-like and often need the validation of others investing with them before they will “pull the trigger.”

Given the herd mentality of investors, you should never attempt to raise money by purchasing or collating a mailing list of VC firms or angel investor groups and then just mailing a proposal in the hopes someone will contact you to set up a meeting.

This is not to say that there are not many entrepreneurs who, in fact, do mass mailings. My point is that such an approach is likely to be D.O.A. Venture capitalists and serious angel investors are often deluged with unsolicited proposals, which sit in slush piles waiting to be opened. The only real reason they might be opened is because a friend or professional acquaintance has alerted the investor that the proposal deserves a read. In other words, someone has acted as a reference or provided a recommendation, preferably before the proposal has been delivered. Only then do you have a serious chance at receiving that special phone call.

The courtship ritual of most couples does not start with a discussion of how much each person will be worth seven years from their first date, and how it will be divided between them if and when they part. And neither should an investment presentation begin with a similar discussion.7. Discussing Valuation Too Early On in the Negotiations

The reason an entrepreneur often seeks an investment from VCs and experienced angel investors is to get a reliable indication of the value of their startup, which is what experienced investors do for a living. So there is no real point in preempting the process by insulting the VC or angel investor with an unwarranted starting point for a valuation.

As some would say, you should just “let nature takes it course” and wait for the investor to begin the discussion of valuation and pricing with a term sheet. Any other approach risks an early termination of negotiations.

8. Failure to Listen

You need to “leave your pride at the door” when making an investment presentation and be open to the investors’ suggestions. The fundraising process can be grueling because experienced investors tend to ask numerous questions that likely have been posed to you before, questions that test your business model and technology platform so all parties might realize the best way of structuring an investment.

Most of the time, the questions are offered in the spirit of openness to justify the investment of such a large sum of money. But rather than viewing the questioning process as an exploration of alternatives by an investor who is obviously interested in the startup (otherwise why else would the investor have met with the entrepreneur in the first place?), some people reactively resist suggestions to consider changes to their business model or technology platform. Such a reaction is likely to cause a thoughtful investor to move on. You should instead take the time to consider the investor’s questions and suggestions, and view the process as useful insight into his or her thinking.

I end with number 8 because such a “failure to listen” was the chief mistake made by my own child. But I guess my own mistake was forgetting that children never listen to their parents either.

5 Things Investors Want to Know Before Signing a Check

by Daniel Bukszpan from CNBC. Source: http://www.entrepreneur.com/slideshow/230715 

Pitching your idea to investors, regardless if they are bankers, VCs or angels, can be intimidating, so prepare by putting yourself in the investor’s shoes. What do they look for when evaluating your company? Here is a list of the five most important things that an investor wants to know before sinking money in a company.

1. Financial performance. You need to know your numbers. Prove to potential investors that your company has excellent financial performance, especially if you are seeking funding from a bank. Venture capitalists will look for a potential of high returns and a clear exit opportunity.

Prepare to answer questions about the financial stability of your company. Investors will ask if your company shows signs of growth and if you have plans such as issuing shares or borrowing money to stimulate growth. Your debt repayment plan should also be properly presented. Prove your business is capable of handling its financial obligations.

When pitching to investors based on your company’s financial performance, it’s advisable to show proof that your current assets are enough to cover current or short-term liabilities. Expect investors to evaluate your revenue streams, acquisition cost and turnover rates.

2. Background and experience in the industry. Investors don’t want entrepreneurs to make mistakes on their dime. Investors look for experienced entrepreneurs and management teams with a track record of high performance and leadership in the company’s industry or in prior ventures. Most investors will research your business experience and your background in the industry. Passion and commitment should be evident to inspire confidence in investors and stakeholders.

“Investor fit” is particularly important to angel investors compared to venture capital fund managers.  Angel investors place great importance on “chemistry” between themselves and the entrepreneur because they generally take a more hands-on approach in the businesses they invest in.

Tim Ferriss, an entrepreneur and angel investor, has mentioned that he looks for founders who have ideally done something high stress when failure or rejection is constant on a small or large scale almost everyday.

3. Company uniqueness. Your product or services need to be unique. Prove to your investors, with concrete evidence, that your market potential is big enough to make investing worthwhile.

Venture capitalists’ are influenced by product characteristics such as proprietary features and competitive advantage. Investors look for features that distinguish you from potential competitors and give you some sort of advantage, such as intellectual property protection, exclusive licenses and exclusive marketing and distribution relationships.  (2,3,4)

4. Effective business model. Your company will start to display its strategic value as soon as it begins to generate profits. Present the business model that you are currently using and prove that it will help your company become more profitable.

Different types of investors seek different attributes from a business plan. It’s important to customize your business plan and pitch to each investor. For example, venture capital fund managers and angel investors tend to put more emphasis on both market and finance issues, so those are areas that you should focus on when approaching these types of investors.

5. Large market size. Angel investors typically invest in solutions that address major problems for significantly large target markets. On the other hand, venture capitalists look at market characteristics such as significant growth and limited competition when investing.

The larger and more stable customer base that your brand has, the stronger competitive advantage you will have when pitching to investors. A larger and more stable customer base will serve as proof that your company has a great impact to its target market.

Investors look for companies that can grow quickly and manage this high growth scale. Investors must see that the company can generate significant profits beyond the initial product idea with adequate financial projections and a plan to include multiple sources of revenue.