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Patel, Vinik among first to commit to Florida Funders-USF SEED fund

Margie Manning

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Photo by GotCredit

Healthcare entrepreneur Dr. Kiran Patel and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik are among the first to say they will invest in SEED Florida Early Stage Investment Fund LLC.

Other early investors are Arnie Bellini, founder of ConnectWise; Andy Hafer, founder and CEO of Dynamic Communities; and H.J. Yang, president of Yang Management.

“SEED capital is the front of innovation and opportunity,” Bellini said in a news release about the new fund. “This fund will be used to ignite Florida entrepreneurs and establish Florida as an innovation hub. From Sunshine State to Start-Up State, the climate is right in Florida.”

The fund, a partnership between Florida Funders, a hybrid venture capital firm and crowd-funding platform, and University of South Florida, is focused on investing in high potential, seed stage companies throughout the state, as the St. Pete Catalyst first reported in  January.

The fund had its first closing in November, said Marc Blumenthal, general partner, Florida Funders. It will be available to investors through 2020, Blumenthal said.

The new fund, working in conjunction with The Institute for Commercialization of Florida Technology’s $23 million-dollar fund that Florida Funders manages for the State of Florida, is designed to bridge the gap for capital in early-stage investments for technology, health science and engineering sectors.

“The combination of the SEED Florida Fund, the Institute and our crowdfunding platform has the potential to create millions in capital for seed-stage companies within the next five years,” said Tom Wallace, managing partner for Florida Funders.


Related story: Six Tampa-St. Pete startups are part of a $1.9 billion economic engine in Florida


Wallace and Yang serve on the SEED investment committee. Other members are::

  • Ryan Whittemore, chief investment officer for Florida Funders
  • James McNulty, a CPA and CEO of MY MD Pharmaceuticals
  • Timothy Shedd, director of the entrepreneurship program for Florida Polytechnic
  • Joel Ivers, CEO and venture and angel investor
  • Dr.  Stewart Davis, founder of Locus Walk Partners and CEO of Pristine Surgical

The committee has two special advisors: Stephen Kowski, global manager of technology at Radius and chair of Tampa Bay Technology Alliance, and Tom Stanton, a patent attorney

Blumenthal is an advisor to the SEED Florida Fund. Other advisors are: 

  • Michael Bloom, assistant vice president, USF Corporate Partnerships and Innovation
  • Dr. Christian Brechot, USF Health senior associate dean for research in global affairs
  • Michael Fountain, founding director, USF Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Raghu Misra, CEO, Wired2perform
  • Doug Pace, CEO, Stonehill Innovation
  • Shilen Patel, managing partner, Patel Family Office

NOTE: This story has been updated to include additional information about how long the fund will be open to investors.

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