Tom Wallace started investing in early-stage companies before "startup" became a part of our collective lexicon. A 25-year veteran of the angel investing world and managing partner of Florida Funders, Wallace has built and sold some major winners, including Tampa's Waldec. He's also invested in and run many other successful ventures (Tribridge, Q-Link, RedVector) in his storied career. But he's no stranger to failure, either. He candidly reminds young founders that two of the companies he founded failed. Candid, passionate and knowledgeable, Wallace brings a nuanced understanding of what it takes for startups to succeed - and he puts that to work each day helping entrepreneurs at Florida Funders.
Years in St. Pete
Organizations involved in
Florida Funders; a multitude of tech organizations; First Tee of Tampa Bay; Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Tampa Bay.
What gets you out of bed every day?
The why - the purpose. The purpose is helping the next generation of tech entrepreneurs. A lot of people helped me along the way and my best opportunity to give back is to help the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Why St. Pete?
It's home, I love it. It's a great place.
What is one habit that you keep?
Red wine - you can't beat it.
who are some people that influence you?
My parents. Neither of my parents graduated from high school, but they were extremely hard working people, insisted that me and my siblings get an education. Locally, Chris Sullivan, Bob Basham have been huge influences on me. Steve Raymond, Tony DiBenedetto to name a few.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
Trust your gut, always believe in yourself and listen to your inner voice.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
How important it is once we invest in a company to really help that company be successful. It's something we're still working on at Florida Funders. Not just giving entrepreneurs and founders money, but helping them be successful.
At Florida Funders I'm very involved with running the business, and I want to get out of the day-to-day of running the business and more helping that next generation of entrepreneurs, because that's my passion.