(ORLANDO) — UCF’s burgeoning entrepreneurial support system has added a key component – an initiative dedicated to supporting qualified early stage companies with financial capital.
Over the last year the Florida Angel Nexus (FAN) network has been quietly lining up accredited investors and promising early-stage companies and has succeeded in closing three deals, on target to meet its goal of investing $1million in early stage companies in FY 2013.
Michael O’Donnell, executive director for the UCF Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and founder of the FAN, says the initiative not only fills a significant need at UCF, it has the potential to help bring additional investment into the state.
“This is a new and exciting era for job and wealth creation. The number of growth companies and the amount of available resources are both on the rise,” O’Donnell said. “There are many people working to close the known gaps. The resulting opportunities that this creates for everyone involved will be substantial,” he added.
While FAN works with UCF’s entrepreneurial network to identify and cultivate promising companies, it is also a member of the Angel Capital Association Southeast Syndication Network, giving it the ability to connect its best investment opportunities to capital from South Florida to Tennessee.
The companies presented to investors are vetted by FAN advisors and are presented in a consistent format for individual evaluation. Companies do not need to have a UCF connection; however many in the early pipeline have taken advantage of UCF’s suite of services for entrepreneurs, said Blaire Martin, FAN’s Coordinator.
Most members of FAN’s Investment Group are experienced entrepreneurs, investors or seasoned executives. “It is great to have such a diverse group of successful people, because members typically have area expertise that aligns directly with potential investment opportunities,” said Martin. FAN is recruiting additional angels to enhance this strength.
FAN’s largest investment to date was into AZZLY, a company based in Vero Beach, that delivers web-based patient care and revenue management services to small and mid-sized doctor’s offices and health providers. AZZLY recently won best pitch at the Florida Venture Forum’s 2013 Early Stage Venture Capital Conference and was a client of UCF’s GrowFL economic gardening program.
“AZZLY was attractive to FAN because of the company’s market and user-friendly technology platform,” said Martin. FAN helped the company to identify additional markets and develop a strong sales strategy.
FlexReceipts, another FAN investment, participated in the Igniting Innovation Thorpe Capital Acceleration Network, as part of the 2012 Cleantech to Spacetech multi-showcase event, in partnership with the Florida Cleantech Acceleration Network (FL-CAN). The company offers consumers and vendors an online receipt management system that eliminates the need for paper. Retailers are interested in the product because it also offers analytic data on customers’ buying patterns and targeted direct marketing options.
The latest FAN investment was with ConvergTV, a UCF Business Incubation Program client. ConvergTV offer consumers the ability to choose customizable television content created by independent producers seeking to monetize their quality content through the company. ConvergTV recently announced a partnership with Vidora, a mobile video aggregation service, to offer programming live and on-demand on mobile devices.
Early-stage companies that have revenue and aggressive plans to scale can learn more and apply to FAN through the website. Once a company begins the application process, they can potentially gain access to the UCF Mentor Network. FAN’s advisors and community partners can also assist companies to research their markets, refine their plans, align pro forma financials, define their financial/intellectual capital needs and perfect their pitch, as well as to develop a cohesive presentation to potential investors and/or strategic partners.
In addition to qualified scalable companies, FAN is seeking accredited investors, mentors, and investment groups. For more information visit floridaangelnexus.com, email info@FloridaAngelNexus.com or call (407) 716-8563.
About Florida Angel Nexus (FAN): The Florida Angel Nexus (“FAN”) is a state-wide network of investors and investment groups. FAN’s mission is to connect qualified companies with aggressive growth plans to investors from the Florida community. FAN focuses on businesses that already have some proof of concept and revenues but assists all applicants with resources to eliminate obstacles for growth. The objective is to achieve higher returns with less risk than typical angel groups by combining Florida’s community resources, including the vast university systems, with the business acumen of FAN’s members and partners. The group strives to improve Florida’s funding environment to become a prominent investment corridor that attracts and retains the best talent and high paying jobs for our state. www.floridaangelnexus.com