Tampa-based Florida Funders has recently invested in two Miami-based startups, and plans to invest in many more.
Florida Funders, a venture capital fund with an angel investor network that’s recognized as the top VC in the Southeast region by Pitchbook, has invested in eMerge Americas, Miami’s longest continuously running tech conference, and fintech company Marco Financial.
The investments took place following Florida Funders’ recent expansion to Miami, where the group works with investors and companies. Miami has been at the forefront of the startup ecosystem as many relocate to South Florida due to the thriving tech scene and amount of investors.
“We’ve spent time in Miami throughout our existence. As Miami started taking off as a tech hub in 2020, we recognized we wanted to make a significant investment in the community,” Saxon Baum, vice president of investor relations at Florida Funders, told the St. Pete Catalyst.
“The newer players in Miami were reaching out to us asking how to get involved with Florida Funders. It’s nice to have this collaborative feeling in working together compared to bigger firms in Miami and getting plugged in.”
Florida Funders has a small team based out of the Wynwood area of Miami, including three full-time members and two scouts that hunt for startups to invest in. Florida Funders is currently seeking another office space to move into within the Wynwood area.
eMerge Americas, one of the companies the group invested in, is a venture-backed platform focused on changing Miami into the tech hub of the Americas, and Marco Financial is a fintech company focused on small and medium-sized businesses in Latin America that export their goods to the United States.
Florida Funders was the sole local investor supporting Marco Financial’s $82 million seed financing round to support Marco’s technology and expanding its sales in Latin America.
“Marco Financial is a deal we’ve seen several times,” Baum said. He explained the group looked at Marco on different occasions and gave them another final look after a friend strongly urged them to.
“There’s a big player in the space called Pipe and we saw the evolution Pipe had in the marketplace and thought this could be the same type of trajectory,” Baum said about the growth potential.
The Miami-based Pipe startup allows companies to transform their recurring revenue into upfront capital for scaling without debt or dilution. It is a rapidly growing company in Miami and recently raised $50 million.
“The company has come a long way in what they are focused on, and Jacob is a hard-working entrepreneur. We love what he is doing,” Baum said about Marco Financial.
Jacob Shoihet, Marco Financial’s co-founder and CEO, said the funding round this week was a rolling close and that he may soon look to raise Series A funding.
“Our mission is to help support underserved businesses that trade across Latin America and need financing,” Shoilet said, adding how he was first introduced to Florida Funders through a mutual friend.
The other investment was with eMerge Americas, which is a leader in Florida when it comes to events around innovation and technology, similar to Synapse.
“We’ve known eMerge Americas for a while and the opportunity arose. This was an amazing way to partner with a stellar organization and continue that growth in South Florida,” Baum said.
Florida Funders led its closing investment round this week in an undisclosed amount.
Marking the close, Marc Blumenthal, general partner at Florida Funders, will assume a board seat.
eMerge Americas and Florida Funders will capitalize on this partnership by hosting La Casa, an exclusive in-person event gathering investors and startup founders in Miami in the fall.
Florida Funders was also part of another recent deal with Miami-based Lula.
Lula, an insurance infrastructure startup, raised $18 million in a Series A round of funding earlier this month.
Founders Fund and Khosla Ventures co-led the round, which also included participation from SoftBank’s SB Opportunity Fund, hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, Steve Pagliuca (Bain Capital co-chairman and Boston Celtics owner) and others. Existing backers included Nextview Ventures and Florida Funders.
Scouting for startups
“We are able to cherry-pick the best deals,” Baum said. “We don’t want to just stay in our backyard.”
Baum explained the organization, which only invests in tech-based companies, looks to work with startups throughout the southeast in competing metros such as Atlanta, where Florida Funders has an existing relationship with Venture Atlanta, which hosts the premier venture capital event in the state of Georgia every year.
He said Florida Funders seeks out companies in different buckets. One bucket could be a company with $100,000 in reoccurring revenue,while another bucket may be for early-stage companies earning between $250,000 and $2 million in revenue.
“We look for disruptive technology, who the founders are – but over anything, it’s the team and personnel and if they have the passion, desire to make this company a success,” Baum said.