venVelo Helps Startups Go the Distance
It is a common cliché that “their name says it all,” but in the case of Winter Park-based venVelo, the cliché couldn’t be truer. Venture and velocity are the key components in their strategy of “Innovative People Accelerating Innovative Companies.” Their website, venVelo.org, opens with one of the first algebraic equations, many of us learn: Distance = Rate x Time (D = RT), explaining that the unsolved problem is, “How can startups go the distance? They need time to learn what they don’t know, to raise enough money to build their products and services, mature their processes and find customers before their funding runs out.”
Stepping into the gap, to not only provide the seed capital needed to start a company, but the expertise and guidance to see it from gestation to birth and beyond is venVelo’s leadership team, including Richard Licursi, whose success stories include raising over $70 million from investors and providing a return of more than $600 million through companies like MeshNetworks. He works alongside Allen Kupetz, the Executive-in-Residence at the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College; Pat McNair, their CFO, who worked with Licursi at MeshNetworks; and Peter McAlindon, Ph.D., the founder and CEO of Blue Orb, Inc., in addition to being the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Crummer.
Kupetz described venVelo also as a startup: “The best kinds of startups see something lacking in the current ecosystem, a product or service that needs to be created, and they try to fill it. As Kawasaki is famous for saying, ‘If you find a headache and create an aspirin, you’ll be a wealthy man.’ We saw there were some big stage capital groups in Florida, but they wanted to invest in, and rightly so, companies with viable products, existing revenue and supply chain and had filled their major management positions. A few of us who had an entrepreneurial background and had some success and resources decided to put together venVelo, as an accelerator. Our goal is to get a company ready to raise professional institutional money.”
“When you’re trying to raise money, regardless of the company, it is an interesting process. If you have a credible team and a reasonably good idea, it isn’t that difficult; there is money around. The more difficult thing is finding the right money, what we call the ‘Greener Money.’ These are the capital investors who are going to give you the kind of assistance, support, contacts and mentoring that you need, along with the funding,” Licursi explained.
Kupetz chuckled as he described the importance and sometimes the resistance that people can give to the most obvious advice. “I reviewed a pitch deck that had many grammatical mistakes. I told the entrepreneur that some investors might take that as a sign he lacks attention to detail. His email reply was dismissive and ungrateful. Investors are generally betting on the jockey, not the horse, so being a horse’s ass won’t help you get funded.”