An investment fund that has put money into a handful of Florida tech companies – including one in Orlando – has its initial founding group.
The 14 founding members of SeedFundersOrlando include several entrepreneurs with early stage business experience.
They have invested a total of $400,000 in the group.
The money will go toward investments into young companies, while the founding group will also provide mentorship where needed.
SeedFundersOrlando is one of three in Florida, with partner organizations also operating in St. Petersburg and Miami.
SeedFundersOrlando will help young companies seeking investments beyond “friends and family,” CEO and cofounder Dennis Pape said.
“There is a gap there,” Pape said. “Oftentimes, you either have rich friends or you turn to organizations like SeedFundersOrlando. This has been a major problem in Florida.”
Access to capital a challenge
Access to capital has been one of the major challenges for young tech companies across the U.S.
SeedFundersOrlando will seek investments in companies that have gained traction with their minimum viable product
That means potential customers who indicate they would support the idea and pay for it.
Pape has been a longtime advocate for Orlando’s tech scene, having run a coworking space downtown for several years.
He also ran an accelerator program that supported and mentored young tech companies downtown.
So he has seen his share of companies fizzle out in Central Florida.
“There have been a lot of startups that get funded by friends and family and then die,” he said. “They can’t get through the gap.”
The group has invested in five companies – ViewStub and Blue Halo BioMedical of Orlando, along with Rx Live, Intelligent Observation, and Safe Zone – since its first meeting in November.
Its stated mission is to “provide investment capital, mentoring, and connections to” tech companies.
“To build investment grade businesses here we need to get promising startups the early capital they need to begin scaling. It has been gratifying to see the progress SeedFundersOrlando has made in contributing to our mission,” said Richard Milam, a SeedFundersOrlando member and chairman of the board at Entrepreneurs Alliance of Orlando.
The stage of business beyond friends and family represents one of the more-crucial for startups. That’s because it’s a time to prove that people beyond your own circle want to use or buy your product or service, Pape said.
“You can develop the greatest thing in the world, ” he said. “But if nobody buys it, it’s irrelevant.
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