Yes! My name is Rachel Carpenter, the CEO of the financial data company, Intrinio. Now, to be fair, I raised my original Angel fundraising round for Intrinio several years ago, and things have certainly changed. But at the time, there were tons of tailwinds in Florida.
Our state had no lack of capital, that’s for sure. But it was all concentrated in low-tech areas like restaurants and real estate. This created two massive problems: a mismatched risk profile and a severe lack of investor education.
Pitching these investors was a nightmare. They would ask about EBITDA and profitability, didn’t understand machine learning, and took forever to make decisions. The timeline was particularly damning - many didn’t understand the need for speed and competitive pressure that tech companies were under.
It took one local angel investment group six months to tell me “no.” Once, they told me they would put me in the “parking lot” for later as if that’s how fundraising rounds worked!
I watched this same group give a local entrepreneur a million dollars at a 2 million dollar valuation - absolute highway robbery. This was because we developed a serious “unionization” issue with local angels. Maybe it was because they realized their own limitations, but they banded together.
These angel groups became the only source of early-stage capital, eliminating any bargaining power for the founders.
Other startup organizations and incubators took most of their funding from the government, in order to keep getting their paychecks, they had to “check the boxes.” But the government was designing the boxes, and what do they know about entrepreneurship?
I beat my head against the wall down here in Florida for over a year before finally spreading my wings.
I spoke at a conference in Singapore and brought on 4 high-level financial services executives as angel investors while I was there. I met a fintech VC firm in California that believed in us.
And I started to meet some wall street retirees locally who understood what we were building at Intrinio. I was starting to feel the first tailwinds of the tech investment community in Florida. The wall street exodus already began far before COVID-19, with retirees seeking out sunshine and even younger execs seeking tax benefits. The rise of the rest sent institutional investors and VCs searching down south. And finally, COVID-19 was a huge boost for tech in the south.
Today, because of these tailwinds, things are improving. Founders that are fundraising today have it a little bit better. Independent, privately funded investment groups and VCs are starting to pop up. Investor education is improving, and tech is getting more attention.
My advice to entrepreneurs who are fundraising in Florida is to cast a wide net and don’t be limited by the constraints of your hometown.
Investors all over the world want to hear from you.
And, if you are talking to investors in Florida, do your homework. Ask lots of questions. Don’t sink too much time into the wrong people or organizations.
If you have more fundraising questions, contact our experts!
Good luck out there!