Florida VC Funding Hit $2.9 Billion in 2019
When Vinny Olmstead co-founded Bridgevine in 2003, Florida’s venture capital market was anemic. Olmstead says he had to go to New York and Pennsylvania to raise cash for the Vero Beach-company, which functioned as an Expedia-like concierge selling subscriptions for internet and cable TV services to consumers.
“It’s getting better,” says Olmstead, who sold the company for $75 million last year and now serves as managing director of Vocap Investment Partners, a venture capital fund with offices in Atlanta and Vero Beach that invests in early growth stage tech companies.
Better, indeed. Florida-based companies raised approximately $2.9 billion from 261 venture capital deals in 2019, according to a report from the Florida Venture Forum, a statewide group that connects venture capitalists and entrepreneurs.
That’s about nearly 60% more than in 2018, when Florida companies closed 276 deals worth $1.8 billion, and 564% growth since 2006, according to data from PitchBook, a Seattle organization that monitors venture capital activity across the nation.
Olmstead was one of many veteran entrepreneurs and business leaders sharing advice with attendees of the 29th Florida Venture Capital Conference in Orlando this week. Others included: Suneera Madhani, founder and CEO of Orlando-based payment processor Fattmerchant; Alon Mozes, cofounder of Miami-based Neocis, which develops robotic surgery systems for dental surgery; Patrick Goddard, president of Miami-headquartered Brightline Trains; and Orlando Magic co-founder Pat Williams.
The Jan. 30-31 conference, also spotlighted 14 startups from across the state selected by a committee of active equity investors.
Other key takeaways on Florida’s venture industry:
» Magic Leap, the Plantation–based maker of augmented reality headsets, accounted for $780 million (27%) of the total VC invested in 2019
» The bulk of financing is still centered in South Florida (129 deals were completed in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach metro area in 2019)
» The media early-stage VC deal was $3.5 million
» The software industry dominated the VC market and accounted for 27% of deal volume
» 15 Florida-headquartered venture funds have been created since 2015