St. Petersburg isn’t trying to replace Silicon Valley, but the startups migrating to blockchain and tokenization have investors adapting the way they go about investing, according to Florida Funders’ Marc Blumenthal.
Blumenthal, one of the partners at the Tampa-based angel investment group, shared his take on the enticing blockchain industry emerging in Tampa Bay with St. Pete Catalyst publisher Joe Hamilton during the Bitcoin and Blockchain Summit last week at Amalie Arena.
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Florida Funders has been focused on more traditional business-to-business, tech-enabled companies from the seed to A-round stage. Blumenthal said Florida Funders started working with Stratos Technologies, a multi-strategy venture capital firm with expertise in financing and advising technology businesses, to add more blockchain to its portfolio.
“If you really think about defy [decentralized finance] today or into 2022, it is really a fintech company of three years ago. It happens to be on the blockchain and token economics tend to make it more interesting and scale more quickly,” Blumenthal said regarding the appeal.
“You have more complex analysis when you look at blockchain because you have to understand the token economics, the scale and try to imagine how the community is going to come together and onboard the business who will get the business value from it,” he said.
Florida Funders evaluates 2,500 companies a year with a team of 18 people. The VC firm invests in 20 to 30 of them with roughly a quarter of them in the early seed round.
“We do bet on founders and their team early on even in pre-revenue at times, and we are confident they understand the market and we place a bet on them,” he said.
As far as the region blossoming into a Silicon Valley-like environment, Blumenthal said Silicon Valley can never be replaced, but the Covid-19 pandemic has shifted more interest into Tampa Bay.
“I think post-Covid, there is a flexible work environment where the C-suite decides where the HQ is based on where they think they can have the most fun, build the best life,” he said.
Blumenthal along with local entrepreneurs recently created HiTampaBay, which is meant to serve as a landing page to help interested tech companies with relocating while highlighting the area’s assets and news articles on tech-related business news.
“We spun HiTampaBay and that’s a way you can raise your hand and learn about the region,” he said.
The HiTampaBay.com members can help educate prospective transplants about the startup ecosystem, and make introductions to officials and tech-focused businesses so the interested party can be formally educated on making the big decision to locate in Tampa Bay.