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Inside Florida Funders’ pipeline: Companies that will benefit from ‘the new normal’

Margie Manning



Vizetto's Reactive SUITE

Remote video communications between workers has been front and center during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

So Florida Funders’ investment in a technology company with a video conferencing platform to enable remote teamwork is especially timely.

Florida Funders co-led a $3 million seed round for Vizetto Inc. The round was over-subscribed, meaning the company had greater investor demand than anticipated. Other investment co-leaders were Hudson Valley Equity Group in Nyack, New York, and OW Toad, an office run by author Margaret Atwood, who joined the Vizetto board of directors last year. Several family offices and strategic corporate investment funds also participated in the round.

Vizetto is headquartered in Toronto, Canada, and is looking to open an office in Florida this year or early next year, said Tom Wallace, managing partner of Florida Funders, a hybrid venture capital fund and early-stage investment platform in Tampa. Nearly all of the companies in Florida Funders’ portfolio are headquartered in the Sunshine State or have a significant presence here, Wallace said.

Vizetto hasn’t yet determined where in Florida it will open an office, Wallace said.

Vizetto will use some of the new funding for a Florida expansion and to hire additional staff for sales and product development. Most of the new capital will be used to further develop its Reactiv SUITE, a tool used for “reimaging how presentations are given and enabling remote teamwork from anywhere in the world,” a news release said.

“Reactiv SUITE has the opportunity to be the solution for companies to operate and do business globally, reduce travel and allow team members to be productive without having to compromise on the safety restrictions in place for the near future,” said Av Utukuri, Vizetto CEO and founder.

Wallace described Vizetto as “Zoom on steroids.” Zoom, along with Microsoft Teams and other remote video tools for businesses, have been widely used since businesses nationally transitioned some or all of their employees to working from home, to try to control the spread of the virus. “We think what Av has built is taking it to another level,” Wallace said.

Vizetto already has some revenue through a partnership with Ricoh, a business services firm.

Related story: Here are the startup sectors where Florida Funders’ Tom Wallace sees opportunity in a pandemic economy

Vizetto was one of about a half-dozen companies in Florida Funders’ pipeline when the Covid-19 crisis started. “We said let’s just hit pause for 30 days and see how this plays out,” Wallace said. “We didn’t know what the appetite was going to be with our angel investors, our ‘crowd,’ to continue to invest, given the economic uncertainty, the volatility of the stock market, the Covid virus, all that. When we looked at the pipeline — and frankly we have a strong pipeline with companies, almost all of which will benefit from the ‘new normal’ when we come out of this — but Vizetto was at the top of the list.”

Wallace expects Florida Funders to continue to invest in the other companies in its pipeline.

“We’re going to go full board, now that this has been successful,” he said. He expects to present two companies a month through the summer for Florida Funders’ crowd to consider. “Who knows what will happen, if the stock market crashes or there’s negative news out there, we might decide to slow things down, but right now we’re pretty positive. A lot of our investors want to look at deals right now.”

Florida Funders also continues to invest in existing portfolio companies, such as Homee, a Tampa-based on-demand property maintenance service, and Peerfit, a Tampa digital health company, according to April 22 filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Those investments were part of ongoing raises for the firms, Wallace said.

“These are companies that have very high potential, potential unicorn companies, but they also are companies that will be raising money for a long time, and it will take a while to scale them,” Wallace said. “We’re very bullish on both of them.”

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