Florida Funders, a company that connects early-stage Florida businesses with accredited investors, has moved into newly renovated office space in Tampa’s Westshore district, expanding its collaborative workspace.
“Our own staff is growing, our investment base is growing, the number of collaborative meetings, early stage companies are growing,” says Marc Blumenthal, CEO.
Now located on the first floor of the Austin Center in some 5,000 square feet, it is better prepared to work with companies that come to make their pitches to investors.
“They specifically built this for us not only to have a better bigger space ... but to have lots of open work space,” Blumenthal says.
The new space was “completely gutted from the floor to the deck of the ceiling” under the direction from Jonathan Levy, managing partner for Redstone Investments, the center’s owner.
It outgrew space it shared with Quantum Capital Partners at nearby Tower Place.
“We already have about 15 companies in our portfolio,” he says. “That grows by 10-20 a year.”
Florida Funders has six on its staff full-time and another two part-time. It will be creating an Ambassadors’ program to broaden its networking in other communities throughout Florida this year, he says.
The Ambassadors will be volunteers well connected in their community. “We’re going to do all the heavy lifting. They’re the eyes and ears on the ground for us,” he explains.
Additionally, Florida Funders is planning a partner’s program, which may involve a Funders’ liaison to sit on the board of a portfolio company. “Most of those opportunities will have some form of remuneration from the portfolio company,” he says.
The funding company has invested some $4 million in 17 deals in the last two years and is expecting to pump an additional $5 to $7.5 million into start-ups in the next year.
“Our business model is really associated with the success of our investment. It’s a long-term view,” he explains. “Every year we’ll be investing more capital.”
Ultimately, Florida Funders wants “to see our best and our brightest stay here,” he says, and encourage other bright people to choose to live here for the climate, ease of doing business, and accessible business capital.
“Florida Funders is priming that pump. We think we’re taking the lead on that with some other great people across the state,” he says.