Saturday, August 18, 2007

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.

No comments: