Jim Barnish: Florida Funders

Florida Funders is a hybrid of a venture capital fund and an angel investor network that discovers, funds and builds early-stage technology companies. Awarded by CB Insights, it is the most active venture capital firm in Florida.

The Challenge

A small group of investors (at the time, an informal angel syndicate) required effective, scalable processes to build a true deal pipeline and systematically perform due diligence to maximize ROI for investors and grow into a true venture capital (VC) fund. 

Raising capital for a fund is always most difficult the first time around when there is a limited track record of the partners’ investment history and the team’s ability to work together. Thus, the ability to showcase well-thought-out systems and a mature due diligence process is all the more critical at this stage to give validity to the fund and accelerate fundraising efforts.

My Role

Director of Investments

I led the strategy and execution efforts of all prospective Seed/Series A deals and built supporting business processes to evolve the company and get their first fund up and running.

The Work
  • Held multiple strategy sessions to align all stakeholders on targeted focus and messaging.
  • Created systematic operational processes (i.e., due diligence).
  • Established and documented infrastructure and supporting tools/processes to lead decision-making on new pursuits, existing investments, and general communication.
  • Led deal flow efforts for approximately nine months, leading to 10+ investments, including several of the top-performing portfolio companies (e.g., Homee, Peerfit).
  • Now that the foundation was set and validation was occurring, I worked with the team to hire a full-time Chief Investment Officer (CIO) to own the role going forward, and am now purely an investor-partner.
The Outcome

Today, Florida Funders is considered the most active venture capital firm in Florida due to its efficient and scalable deal pipeline management and operational process. We successfully raised Florida Funders’ first fund ($18 million) and now Fund II ($70 million) is currently in motion. They have had multiple exits, such as Pikmykid, 2x return on capital investment, exit as part of Series A financing and Peerfit, 5x return on capital investment, exit to Peloton. 

Florida Funders By The Numbers

Venture capital is both the art and science behind picking an ideal combination of founders, products and teams that coalesce to give a company the best chance of long-term, sustained success. With 75 percent of venture-backed companies failing, VC firms must do everything in their power to find, perform due diligence, and invest in only the very best companies. The best way to do this is through an aligned vision, strategy and systematic execution—and that’s what we built at Florida Funders.

––Jim Barnish, Director of Investments