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Women-led companies dominate in local venture capital deals in Q2

Margie Manning



Area startups founded or co-founded by women entrepreneurs received more than half of the total early-stage funding for local companies in the second quarter of 2020.

The companies — Telepathy Labs, Venuetize and Base Culture — drew a combined $18 million in funding, according to the newly released Venture Monitor, a quarterly report from the National Venture Capital Association and Pitchbook.

Altogether, six firms headquartered in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area received a total of $30.22 million in venture funding in the second quarter of 2020, Venture Monitor said.

It was the lowest number of deals in a quarter since Q3 2013 and the lowest deal value since Q3 2018 for the metro area.

Nationally, deal value and deal count also were down compared to the same quarter a year ago.

“The second quarter of 2020 was truly unprecedented for the venture capital industry, as the COVID-19 pandemic, nationwide lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, and a major economic downturn shook the entire country,” the report said. “Venture firms generally became much more conservative around dealmaking as the pandemic hit the U.S. in March and early April, leading to a downturn in both VC invested and number of deals completed in Q2.”

Venture investing began to pick up in May, the report said. Valuations did not decline as much as many industry professionals expected, and the ample dry powder in the industry — committed but unallocated capital —  has allowed VCs to continue making investments during the second quarter, Venture Monitor said.

Here’s a closer look at the five local deals Venture Monitor highlighted.

Josselyn Boudett, founder and CEO, Telepathy Labs

Telepathy Labs, Tampa

Deal size: $13 million

Deal type: Angel (individual)

Close date: June 29

Industry sector: Information technology/software

Telepathy Labs’ artificial intelligence platform helps people and computers interact more efficiently, founder and CEO Josselyn Boudett told the St. Pete Catalyst.

The company filed two disclosures with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in late June, indicating it raised $6.6 million and $6.4 million.

Ed Buckley, founder and CEO, Peerfit

Peerfit, Tampa

Deal size: $10 million

Deal type: Later stage VC

Close date: April 30

Industry: Consumer products and services

Peerfit, led by founder and CEO Ed Buckley, is a digital health company that uses technology to provide wellness benefits through both commercial or employer-provided health insurance coverage as well as Medicare Advantage plans. The company raised $10 million in January in a funding round led by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Virgo Investment Group, a San Francisco-based investment firm and previously reported by Venture Monitor. It was not immediately apparent if Venture Monitor was referencing the same investment or a different one in its report on Q2 funding.

Chris Sullivan, Omnivore chairman

Omnivore, Clearwater

Deal size: $4 million

Deal type: Angel (individual)

Close date: May 14

Industry: Information technology/software

Omnivore is a restaurant software company with a platform that allows restaurants to easily participate in ordering and payment technology. Omnivore Chairman and Outback Steakhouse co-founder Chris Sullivan, insurance executive Lowry Baldwin and ConnectWise co-founder Arnie Bellini participated in the most recent funding round.

Karri Zaremba, founder and COO, Venuetize

Venuetize, Tampa

Deal size: $2 million

Deal type: Later state VC

Close date: April 28

Industry: Business products and services

Venuetize is a mobile technology company with a platform which allows people attending sports and entertainment events in stadiums or arenas, or at hotels or casinos, to make payments, get rewards, find parking, buy tickets and see videos and photos, among other things, through an app on their phone. The company was founded by Jon Romm, who is CEO, and Karri Zaremba, who is chief operating officer.

Jordann Windschauer, founder and CEO, Base Culture

Base Culture, Clearwater

Deal size: $1 million

Deal type: Later state VC

Close date: May 27

Industry: Consumer products and services

Base Culture makes baked goods consistent with a paleo diet. Base Culture was founded in 2012 by Jordann Windschauer, who is CEO.

Venture Monitor did not disclose the sixth area company to receive funding in Q2.

Statewide, there were 58 deals totaling $607.3 million in Florida in the second quarter of 2020, according to Venture Monitor. Among the other major metro areas in Florida in Q2, the Miami metro had 31 deals totaling $522.8 million, and the Orlando metro had 10 deals totaling $36 million. There were no deals reported in the Jacksonville metro area.

A separate venture capital report, MoneyTree from PwC and CB Insights, said there were 21 deals totaling $434 million in Florida in Q2 2020, led by a $350 investment in augmented reality firm Magic Leap in Miami. MoneyTree did not list any Tampa-St. Petersburg area deals among the top deals in Florida.

MoneyTree counts only actual dollars invested in a quarter, while Venture Monitor tags a broader array of deals.

See the full MoneyTree report here, and the Venture Monitor report here.

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