By Nikki Cabus

Florida Venture Forum and South Florida Tech Hub partner for a Venture Capital Mid-Year Review

Read Time 4 Minutes

Florida Venture Forum and South Florida Tech Hub partnered to host the Venture Mid-Year Review in downtown Ft. Lauderdale at the beautiful The Main Las Olas bringing together startup founders, investors, and entrepreneurs from Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Boca Raton and across the state.

As VC funding to startups is on a steady decline across the country, the state of Florida is certainly not immune. The fundraising environment isn’t getting easier for technology startups.

According to the Q2 2023 Pitchbook-NVCA Venture Monitor Report, startups in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties secured just under $400 million from venture capital investors over 79 deals during the second quarter. Compared to the same period in 2022, that’s a major decline from the $1.2 billion that investors directed to local companies.

Although fundraising is difficult in the current market, there are still opportunities for companies that are able to execute on their plans. Many hugely successful startups were born during a down market. This was the consistent message from the event’s expert panel of investors who discussed the state of raising capital in South Florida and if it’s time to be cautious or a great time to invest.

Panelist and entrepreneur turned venture capitalist, Mark Volcheck, told South Florida Tech Hub that “2023 seems like a great time to invest in startups! So, I’m puzzled by all the VC firms that are pulling back and waiting on the sidelines. What are they waiting for?” Mark is also a Founding Partner at Las Olas Venture Capital based in Ft. Lauderdale.

“2023 has been a very dynamic year, with the market environment changing rapidly.  Provisioning an update mid year on the state of the VC industry was very timely when many entrepreneurs are wondering what direction the market is moving. There were many key takeaways from the panel,” said Mark.

He continued, “First off, valuations and revenue multiples have come down dramatically in most sectors over the past 18 months.  However, funding is still available for companies that are growing and solving real problems.  The bar is higher than it has been in a long time, but many of the best companies are started in tough times!”

The other panelists included Tim Cartwright, Partner of Fifth Avenue Family Office in Tampa, Kathy Chiu, Founding Managing Partner of Deep Work Capital in Orlando,  and David Zinn, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Ocean Azul Partners in Miami. 

The panelists agreed that the decline in fundraising is due to a number of factors, including interest rates, the lack of IPOs, and the general economic uncertainty. However, they also stressed that there are still investors who are willing to write checks, but it’s important to be realistic about the challenges you face and align your expectations with investors.

Kathy Chiu emphasized the importance of finishing what you start and of focusing on achievable milestones. She also warned against trying to do too much at once and suggested that startups should focus on the areas where they have a competitive advantage.

Nate Vasel, Partner at Las Olas Venture Capital, shared similar advice in an interview with South Florida Tech Hub stating that “Founders should focus on getting to breakeven, improving their operating margins, and extending their runways.

“They should also be realistic about the challenges they face and align their expectations with investors.”

The panel discussion was a valuable opportunity for entrepreneurs to learn from experienced investors about the current state of fundraising and how to position their companies for success. The panelists’ advice is clear and concise and provided valuable insights for startups that are looking to raise money in the current environment.

Here are the takeaways from the panel discussion:

  • The fundraising landscape is challenging, but there are still opportunities for companies that are able to execute on their plans.
  • Investors are looking for companies that have a clear path to profitability and that are able to demonstrate traction.
  • It is important to be realistic about the challenges you face and to align your expectations with investors.
  • Focus on finishing what you start and on achieving achievable milestones.
  • Don’t try to do too much at once.
  • Focus on the areas where you have a competitive advantage.

Pat Schneider, VP of Florida Venture Forum said, “The willingness of the VC panelists to share their knowledge and insight; coupled with the engagement level of the audience was the best part of the event. Plus, taking guests out to walk on the glass sky deck of The Main, while gauging their level of courage, was fun and a good ice breaker!”