Since its early beginnings, the GCVF acknowledged there would be two critical factors in supporting its goal of organizing the angel investor community in Southwest Florida, (i) quality and quantity of early stage deal flow and pursued on (ii) achieving a critical mass of angel members. The GCVF now boasts over 100 members split across the Naples and Sarasota chapters and processes between 250-300 potential applicants a year out of which 14-20 make presentations before these SEC-qualified investors. In the past five years, more than 20 companies have made a connection to funding because they were selected to present to the members of the GCVF.
One of the most significant milestones in the past 10 years has been the creation of the Tamiami Angel Fund I, the first-ever angel fund in Southwest Florida. The Tamiami Angel Fund was a vision of the GCVF which incubated the idea and was the driving force in launching the $2 MM fund in 2011.
The financial angels of the GCVF have gleaned entrepreneurial financial potential from a diverse group of companies, including:
• BioniUSA of Sarasota, which provides intelligent paints, wall covering and coating systems based on nanotechnology.
• NeoGenomics Laboratories of Fort Meyers, which is a specialized oncology reference laboratory providing the latest testing technologies, global/tech-
• StatusStalker.com of Miami, launched in 2009, which is a website featuring humorous social media status updates. In 2010, GCVF investors provided the company with funds to expand in the ever-growing social media industry.
“Receiving Angel Investing not only changed my business but my life,” said Danielle Schwolow, CEO of StatusStalker LLC. “My company was given the opportunity to design and develop our product and since doing so, we have received several inquiries about institutional funding as well as even an acquisition offer. Without the GCVF, this would have never been possible. The rest of my life started the day I presented at the GCVF”
Now in its 10th year, GCVF meets monthly from October to May in Naples and Sarasota with entrepreneurs looking for seed money. It launched its second chapter in Sarasota in 2009, and is considering the formation of a third chapter in the near future.
The Gulf Coast Venture Forum is a Florida 501(c) 6 non-profit corporation. The primary purpose of the GCVF is to promote the success of Southwest Florida’s new and emerging businesses by educating and bringing together the best entrepreneurs and angel investors. It was founded by local business leaders, economic development professionals and university administrators. Their combined goal was to create a more diverse economy for Southwest Florida and create a link between local angel investors and local entrepreneurs in order to launch more high growth companies in the region.
For more information about the Naples chapter, call Brooke Pickard Gabrielsen at 239-821-0250, or for Sarasota, call Sara Hand at 941-228-4033 or visit http://www.gcvf.com.
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Gulf Coast Venture Forum, which connects start-up entrepreneurs from Naples to Sarasota with early-stage seed money, is celebrating its 10th anniversary of strengthening the Gulf Coast small business community.