Saturday, August 18, 2007

Here is the Committee for the Opportunity Fund???

First, let me say - that all of these guys chosen for the Florida Opportunity Fund are very successful, and I am sure very bright. However (with all due respect) - are they the right people to make decisions about where "Early Stage Venture Capital" should go in Florida?

Here is the committee:

Jeff Lyash - Energy Executive
Jeff is an executive at Progress Energy, and has worked with Nuclear Power Plants his entire career according to his bio. No clear Startup or Entrepreneurial experience.

Alan Becker - Lawyer
Alan is a very successful lawyer - with expertise in International Law. Lawyer his entire life. No clear Startup or Entrepreneurial experience.

Cyrus M. Jollivette - Health Care Executive
Cyrus' entire career is in Public Relations with Government and Universities. No clear Startup or Entrepreneurial Experience.

Tim Edmond - Real Estate
Tim has developed real estate for 27 years. No clear Startup or Entrepreneurial Experience.

Medhi Ghomeshi - Banker
Medhi is a banker. No clear Startup or Entrepreneurial Experience.

So basically, no one that has run a VC firm, no one that has started and grown a successful startup, and no one who has embraced innovation and risk.

One could argue that Energy, Real Estate, Law, Banking and Health Care are "high risk" ventures. But that person would be wrong. Dead wrong.

Five members to pick decision makers for VC Fund

This is an article just released by Tampa Bay Biz Journal. You can see my comments below.

Five members to pick decision makers for VC Fund

Tampa Bay Business Journal - 5:23 PM EDT Friday, August 17, 2007
by Danielle Randall

The first state-backed venture capital fund has adopted a committee.
Enterprise Florida Inc., the state's economic development and retention organization, is in the midst of creating a Florida Opportunity Fund. The fund will invest $30 million of its total of $35 million to invest seed capital and early stage venture capital funds.

Tom Kuntz, vice chairman of Enterprise Florida's board and chairman, president and CEO of SunTrust Bank Inc. (NYSE: STI) in Florida, appointed five existing EFI board members to serve on the committee during this week's board meeting.

The committee members are Jeff Lyash, president and CEO, Progress Energy Florida Inc., Raleigh, N.C.; Alan Becker, senior partner for Becker & Poliakoff, PA Fort Lauderdale; Russ Jollivette, senior vice president of public affairs, Blue Cross/Blue Shield Florida, Jacksonville; Tim Edmond, president of CNL Realty & Development Corp., Orlando; and Medhi Ghomeshi, president and chief executive officer of Great Florida Bank, Coral Gables.

These committee members do not exactly seem like entrepreneurial businessmen, considering each of them work for large companies that do not likely work with startups, said Rich Swier, founder of Sarasota-based StartupFlorida, which has an investment concentration in the Tampa Bay region.

"They're executives and bankers, and I don't believe any of these people are rubbing elbows, or working closely with early-stage venture capitalists," Swier said.

During the next three months, the committee will cherry pick a list of potential decision makers for the Florida Opportunity Fund. Its short list of candidates will be voted on at Enterprise Florida's board meeting Nov. 15.

The Florida Formation Act was enacted July 1 in an effort to fuel the economic development of startups and venture capital investments in Florida. As part of the legislation, the Florida Opportunity Fund will be established as part of the legislation and will earmark $30 million of its $35 million to in invest in seed capital and early stage venture capital funds. These investments would not go directly to individual businesses but would be comprised of a partnership with private venture capital funding, or through a fund-of-funds investment approach. Fund-of-funds is a vehicle designed to invest in a diversified group of funds.