SeedFundersOrlando has invested $100,000 in ViewStub, an Orlando startup with event streaming and ticketing technology.
SeedFunders in St. Petersburg participated in the funding.
There’s a lot of uncertainty in the investment landscape now, due to the impact of efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus. That brings both opportunity and reason for caution, said Dennis Pape, CEO of SeedFundersOrlando, which — like the St. Petersburg group — invests in early-stage technology companies.
“There’s clearly going to be a shakeup in the way we as a society interact and behave. We see that virtual activities are going to be on the rise as healthcare concerns are becoming more paramount. There are market sectors that are going to benefit and startups that will capitalize on the changing environment,” Pape said. “Being poised to capitalize when the market comes back is critical.”
But the due diligence process is changing.
“There’s more uncertainty in how you evaluate a startup and so we’ll be asking more questions,” Pape said.
Three months ago, a question about how a startup would handle a downturn in the market was hypothetical. Now it’s a reality. There also are likely to be more questions and more scrutiny about how funding will be deployed and about future investing
“It’s a changing dynamic. We’re not going to slow down in evaluating startups, but it remains to be seen how much activity is going to happen going forward,” Pape said.
Pape initially met ViewStub co-founders Spencer Elliott and Patrick VanDusen after they started Beyond 360, a 3D virtual tours and 360-degree video live streaming company in 2018.
They participated in several Orlando startup programs including the VentureScaleUp Accelerator that Pape previously ran, before they pivoted to ViewStub.
SeedFunders started talking to ViewStub about an investment in late 2019.
Prior to the pandemic, the events business was bifurcated, Pape said. While corporate webinars and seminars often were virtual, organizers of many physical events had little interest in having virtual attendees. Event organizers were losing out on a potential revenue stream from people who couldn’t attend in person, so ViewStub developed a platform for virtual attendance.
ViewStub initially pitched the idea to SeedFundersOrlando late last year. A lot has changed since then.
“A lot of events have been cancelled, so there is no virtual attendance because there is no event. But certainly the wave of the future is going to be this dual (attendance),” Pape said. “It will be a slow ramp up over the next six months to a year. There will be a big push for virtual attendance, and how is that going to settle out a year from now? I think we’ll combine virtual and physical attendance. We think they are poised to capitalize on this changing dynamic.”
The pandemic accelerated SeedFundersOrlando’s decision to invest, he said.
SeedFundersOrlando, established last June, is a separate company from SeedFunders in St. Petersburg, although there’s overlap in leadership. David Chitester, founder and CEO of SeedFunders in St. Petersburg, is chairman of SeedFundersOrlando, and Irv Cohen, managing director of Innovations Capital Group and a partner in the St. Petersburg SeedFunders, is a member at SeedFundersOrlando.
St. Pete Catalyst Publisher Joe Hamilton is a partner in SeedFunders in St. Petersburg.