Plans underway for Florida Early Stage Capital Conference

As it gears up for its 2021 Florida Early Stage Capital Conference October 7 and 8, Florida Venture Capital Forum is accepting applications from companies who want to pitch to investors and vie for $100,000 in cash prizes.

The deadline to apply is September 10. There is no charge to apply or attend the conference, if you are chosen to present. Other attendees pay $199 if they sign up in August; September 1 the rate rises to $249.

The event is scheduled at the Westshore Grand Hotel in Tampa. 

“We’re looking for those companies with growth potential,” says Pat Schneider, VP of the Tampa-based Florida Venture Forum. “We want to make sure they have some kind of competitive advantage.”

Early stage companies have a higher maturity level than startups, with dedicated management teams and something unique for the market. They are operational and are likely making money.

“We like to look at all of the applications. I wouldn’t really discourage anybody,” Schneider says. “They have absolutely nothing to lose by applying,”

A committee of 12 investors will choose about 20 companies to make presentations. The firms selected will pre-record a five-minute pitch, to be available on an app, and then participate in a six-minute, live question-and-answer session onstage with an investor.

The event has been planned as an in-person event. “That’s the opportunity: being there on the exhibit floor,” Schneider says.

They likely will be offering the conference virtually through livestream because of COVID-19; that decision won’t be made until after Labor Day, she adds.

The event facilitates fundraising for early stage companies by giving them an opportunity to present to and meet angel investors and venture capitalists.

Space Florida is offering its Accelerating Innovation Award of $40,000 to a grand prize winner, with $30,000 given to the runner up and $20,000 to the second place winner. Winners are chosen from among eligible Florida companies and those looking to relocate to Florida or establish a business presence here. They should be related to aerospace or related technologies such as information technology, artificial intelligence, adventure tourism, agriculture research and development, cyber security, and clean/alternative energy applications.

Winners will be selected at the event by investor judges and Space Florida staff.

Additionally, two $5,000 awards will be given to students representing some eight to 10 Florida universities at the Collegiate Startup Competition being held concurrently at the venue.

The conference program, still in development, is to include a four-hour Optimizing Investor Engagement workshop, which has an $65 add-on fee. An angel investor panel and presentations are anticipated.

Some 50 companies already have submitted applications, out of 80 to 100 anticipated, Schneider says.

This is Florida Venture Capital Forum’s 14th early stage capital conference and the 11th collegiate competition. Some $354 million has been raised by the early stage firms, with an additional $326 million raised by student companies.

To apply or register to attend, visit Florida Venture Capital. While companies are urged to apply early to present at the upcoming conference, applications are considered year-round for review by active investors.
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Read more articles by Cheryl Rogers.

Cheryl Rogers is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys writing about careers. An ebook author, she also writes Bible Camp Mystery series that shares her faith. She is publisher of New Christian Books Online Magazine and founder of the Mentor Me Career Network, a free online community, offering career consulting, coaching and career information. Now a wife and mother, Cheryl discovered her love of writing as a child when she became enthralled with Nancy Drew mysteries. She earned her bachelor's degree in Journalism and Sociology from Loyola University in New Orleans. While working at Loyola's Personnel Office, she discovered her passion for helping others find jobs. A Miami native, Cheryl moved to the Temple Terrace area in 1985 to work for the former Tampa Tribune