Orlando VC News
R.I.P. "Florida Angel Nexus", "FAN", "Nexus", "FAN Fund"
Here’s some history – abbreviated and I’m sure missing some facts and drama! It all started in 2013 when Michael O’Donnell and Blaire Martin formed an angel investment group in Orlando, called Florida Angel Nexus, or FAN. The group expanded, forming chapters in Tallahassee, Ocala, and Palm Beach. The group was instrumental in coalescing accredited investors together in these communities and investing in startups. FAN morphed over the years into a non-profit and added on support activities for other early-stage investment groups in Florida, and, along the way, shortened its name to Nexus. In 2018, Nexus, facing business model and financial challenges with shrinking state and university support, was acquired by Florida Funders. In 2015, Michael, along with FAN members Ben Patz, Mitch Laskey, and Kathy Chiu, created a committed capital fund in Orlando they called FAN Investors Fund I or FAN Fund. They raised $7M and deployed this capital into early-stage companies throughout Florida. As it turns out their management entity is called DeepWork Capital and last month they decided to retire the FAN Fund name and rebrand as DeepWork Capital. So "Florida Angel Nexus", "FAN", "Nexus", and "FAN Fund" are all gone - but their legacy lives on.
DeepWork Capital (fka FAN Fund)
Fresh off raising another $11M last Fall, DeepWork Capital is back at work investing. Last month they made their first investment out of their new fund - $1.5M into Streann Media in Miami. We've also learned from CB Insights that DeepWork Capital was the most active VC firm in Florida over the last 5 years. Right here in downtown Orlando! And another VC firm with an Orlando office, IDEA Fund Partners, was the most active VC firm in North Carolina.
venVelo is a long-time early-stage investment group located in Winter Park which has invested in Orlando startups since 2014. Its last new startup investment that we know about, however, was in 2017. We hear that the group is taking a break and, in VC parlance, gone into "harvesting mode" - managing its current portfolio and seeking liquidity events. We hope to see them back when they achieve some exits!
FireSpring Fund is a nonprofit evergreen fund now associated with StarterStudio and its seed stage accelerator program and invests in startups accepted into its accelerator program. It invested $25K in each of 10 Orlando startups in its cohorts in 2016 and 2017. The fund did not have capital to invest in its 2018 Orlando cohort of startups. A new partnership and an EDA grant win with Tampa Bay Wave along with (rumored) organizational changes will hopefully result in funding for its 2019 Orlando cohort.
Rally Social Enterprise Fund
The Rally (or EIA) Social Enterprise Fund is a relatively new fund associated with the Rally Social Enterprise Accelerator and invests in startups winning a pitch competition at the end of its accelerator program. It has invested $25K each in Omnimodal and Yaupon Brothers Tea - startup winners in its first two cohorts.