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Blaire Martin of Florida Angel NEXUS & FAN Fund

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Blaire Martin and Florida Angel NEXUS & FAN Fund

The whole of the southeast, not just Florida in particular, accounts for only 10 percent of the Angel investment in the United States. This is especially surprising considering Florida has more accredited investors (investors who meet criteria as defined by the SEC) than almost any other state. However, like a train that has been straining on an upward grade and begins passing over the crest, understanding the importance of angel and venture investment and its significant potential for return is gaining momentum throughout the state. The connection between available capital, a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem and overall economic growth have begun to gain wide recognition and acceptance.

Blaire Martin
Blaire Martin

Blaire Martin of Florida Angel Nexus or simply “NEXUS” and the FAN Fund is one of the rising young stars of early stage investment. “We are engaging these potential investors to get them off the sidelines and involved in our growing pipeline of scalable ventures,” Martin shared. “Many of these investors are serial entrepreneurs and experienced executives that can support ventures through the early stages of growth with mentorship and network connections. NEXUS along with its partners, is building the infrastructure to start

and support angel communities across the state based on geography, industry cluster, and affiliation. In Q3 of this year, NEXUS will begin launching industry cluster chapters like: Health Innovation, Advanced Manufacturing, and Education/Simulation.”

Martin began working with Michael O’Donnell, who manages the UCF Venture Accelerator as well as launching NEXUS and the FAN Fund, to evaluate personal venture investments in 2010. She then met Dr. Tom O’Neal (see story) at an event and subsequently started working in the UCF Venture Lab assisting early stage technology companies with the kind of information required to launch and grow successful companies. This included market research, competitive analysis, commercialization, growth and funding strategies and investor pitch preparation.

As part of O’Neal’s mission to continually advance Central Florida’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, he asked O’Donnell to start an angel network or fund, to provide mentorship, network connections, and early-stage investment capital for top ventures scaling in the region. O’Donnell agreed as long as Martin was sponsored to support him in the launch. Martin described how it evolved, “We interviewed accredited investors around Central Florida and found they were not ready to commit capital to a fund; they needed more information about the venture pipeline and Florida’s ability to support growing companies.” So they launched an angel network, recruited likeminded people, hired a seasoned consultant from California and according to Martin, “did a ton of research.”

In January of 2013, they unveiled the Florida Angel NEXUS brand and in 2014 it became a 501(c)6 nonprofit membership organization, partnering with the Corridor and the Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research (FICPR) to go statewide.

Florida_Angel_Nexus copyFor Martin, NEXUS and the FAN Fund provides a platform for her to work with, “brilliant and persistent entrepreneurs, investors who are giving back with the capital” and to be a resource provider for both investors and community leaders who are passionate about supporting entrepreneurs and their region. According to Martin, research shows that Qualified Persistent Entrepreneurial Teams + Subject Matter Investors + Interconnected Community of Resources = Wealth creation for everyone and the economy. It is an equation that could have a significant impact on moving the needle of the region’s innovation economy.

Her claims, like her work, are always well documented and well supported, like the rationale behind supporting and attracting technology ventures.

The Leading Think Tank

The Bay Area Council Economic Institute is focused on the economic and policy issues facing the San Francisco/Silicon Valley area, the world’s leading center for technology and innovation.

ONE: For each job created in the high-tech sector, approximately 4.3 jobs are created (multiplier effect) in other local goods and services sectors across all income groups, including lawyers, dentists, schoolteachers and retail clerks, among many others.

TWO: New technology jobs outpaced all others by 27:1 from 2001-11.

THREE: According to the National Bureau of Economic Research as of May 2012, technology workers earn 30-50{bfd614f294d07c51b84c8dad33a56885001f0ed7300088ac66752d3246377d5a} more than the median wages.

FOUR: According to the SBA, 64{bfd614f294d07c51b84c8dad33a56885001f0ed7300088ac66752d3246377d5a} of all new jobs are created by small businesses and 40{bfd614f294d07c51b84c8dad33a56885001f0ed7300088ac66752d3246377d5a} of all new jobs are created by startups.

Florida Angel NEXUS & Fan Fund

FAN_Fund copyIn January of 2013, Michael O’Donnell, Randy Fields, Blaire Martin, and seven accredited investors launched the Florida Angel NEXUS brand and the NEXUS Orlando chapter in order to provide mentorship, network connections, and capital to top ventures located in Florida. Founding sponsors: University of Central Florida, Gray Robinson, and a private investor.

The Florida Angel Nexus (“NEXUS”) powers angel investment groups statewide, by solving challenges common for these groups: deal flow, due diligence, portfolio management, and need for broader context. NEXUS enables investors to invest in small groups of their own choosing and meet highly specialized goals while enjoying the efficiency of a large investment entity. Prospective companies undergo a rigorous vetting process, leveraging NEXUS’ extensive network of industry experts, enabling investigations to better understand the market, the product, and execution risk of investment opportunities. Selected companies gain exposure to a large number of investors from angel groups across the state who co-invest to meet the company’s fundraising goals; the angel groups gain far more insights than they can generate on their own. It’s a win-win situation.

chartTHE NEXUS OBJECTIVE

To achieve higher returns with less risk than typical angel groups by combining Florida’s community resources, including the state’s vast university systems, with the business acumen of NEXUS members and partners.

Applicants who successfully obtain angel funding typically demonstrate key traits, including: Strong management team; technology or company that solves pressing needs; niche dominance; high growth potential; sustainable competitive advantages; exceptional return on investment and strategic use of funds.