Tech Trends in the Sunshine State
February 06, 2018
By Christine Gagnon
Entrepreneurs, private equity investors, venture capitalists, and angel investors recently filled the room at the 2018 Florida Venture Capital Conference. The program included a panel on venture capital and the state of the industry – and it’s no wonder the room was packed. Moderator Dave Felman, shareholder of Hill Ward Henderson, asked the VC panelists what they found most attractive about Florida and they had much to say.
There is much more to Florida than just sunshine and oranges; Florida is the third-most populous state in the United States and it ranks in the top 10 for states in terms of attracting private investment companies. The state is considered an important breeding ground for entrepreneurs due to the favorable tax environment and strong domestic and foreign markets. It is considered a business-friendly state and many entrepreneurs see this as a reason to start their companies here. The state has high ranking universities and colleges and many recent graduates plant roots in Florida after graduation. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Florida is a hot spot for technology, and it seems health care is one of the most popular areas. VC panelist Wayne Hunter, managing partner of Harbert Venture Partners, believes that in particular, “health care will be a real strength of the state.”
At the conference, 18 companies had the opportunity to present before an audience of active equity investors, all hoping to win the cash prize of $100,000 offered by Space Florida. It was easy to see why Hunter noted that health care is a strength of the state – one third of the presenting companies were in the health care industry, with the real estate industry following close behind. Although Hunter says that Florida is not the easiest market to cover due to the geographic challenge of it being so spread out, he reiterated that Florida is one of the largest and fastest growing states in the country and it is a great place to grow a business. He said “There is great deal flow here in Florida and some really great entrepreneurs are based down here.” The Sunshine State continues to be a hot spot for the tech industry and the outlook for 2018 and 2019 is positive, which should result in some cutting edge and leading technology companies home grown in Florida.