Thursday, April 16, 2015

Three Quick Things We Can Teach Entrepreneurs

By Allen H. Kupetz

The views expressed may not reflect the opinions of venVelo’s board or its investors.

I wear two hats. One is a professor who teaches entrepreneurship courses. The other is COO of a multi-million dollar early-stage investment fund. When investors find out I also teach, I’m often asked, “Do you really think you can teach entrepreneurship?”

“No,” has been my historical reply. “You are either born with it or you are not.”

A better answer would be, “No, I can’t teach someone to be an entrepreneur. But I can teach many things to someone who is an entrepreneur.”

Three Quick Things

1. Never confuse knowledge and wisdom.

I’ve written often about the difference between knowledge and wisdom: knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing never put it in a fruit salad. Institutional investors are likely betting, among other things, that you have more knowledge than they do. But the hundreds of years of wisdom listening to your pitch and writing you a check can still teach you a lot.
Listen. Execute. Repeat.

2. Talk the talk.

Entrepreneurs need to truly understand the language of venture capital. Debt vs. Equity. VC vs. PE. Options vs. Warrants vs. Shares. Common vs. Preferred. Prefs. Don’t rely solely on your attorney or accountant. Read a couple of books. Follow the blogs of Mark Suster ( and Fred Wilson (
Read. Learn. Repeat.

3. The world is flat, but the entrepreneurial community is even flatter.

Most funds you pitch are going to turn you down – that is simply the math behind the game. But a no now doesn’t always mean no never. Learn something from the questions and feedback you get at every pitch. Never ever dis your local investment community because word gets around. 
Learn. Grow. Repeat.

A Closing Thought

“Frying-Pan Jack and I were in that camp, that's where he said to me, he'd been tramping since 1927, 'I told myself in '27, if I cannot dictate the conditions of my labor, I will henceforth cease to work.' You don't have to go to college to figure these things out, no sir. He said, 'I learned when I was young that the only true life I had was the life of my brain, (so) what sense does it make to hand that brain to someone for eight hours a day, for their particular use, on the presumption that at the end of the day they will give it back in an unmutilated condition? Fat chance!” 
- Utah Phillips

Monday, January 12, 2015

Enterprise Florida and venVelo partner to assist Florida small businesses

Monday, January 12, 2015
Leading tech investor will support early-stage small and minority entrepreneurs
ORLANDO, Fla. – Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI) today announced that itsMinority and Small Business Entrepreneurship Capital (MaSBEC) program is investing funds from the Florida Small Business Technology Growth Fund (FSBTGF) in venVelo, a Winter Park, Florida early-stage venture fund. Through this investment, several Florida-based early-stage small and minority businesses within venVelo’s portfolio will receive much needed capital to help ensure their continued growth.
“Small and minority businesses make up a large portion of Florida’s economy and we’re happy that our MaSBEC program can assist them as they grow,” said Secretary of Commerce and president & CEO of Enterprise Florida, Inc. Gray Swoope. “Support like this helps small businesses within high-growth sectors in Florida get more of the help they need in order to succeed.”
The investment expands support within the stages of venture capitalism for target-industry businesses that are transitioning from seed to early stage and allows venVelo to continue supporting more Florida-based companies. Currently, venVelo’s portfolio consists of all Florida-based companies including flexReceipts, GENICON, Kairos, mCast Networks, Spectrum Bridge, Splyt, Thrive Ice Cream, Vigilant Biosciences and Zentila. venVelo was named the 2014 Tech Investor of the Year by the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission.
“We welcome this direct investment by Enterprise Florida,” said Allen H. Kupetz, COO of venVelo. “These funds will contribute to venVelo’s 2015 goals of continuing to support our current portfolio, identifying new investment opportunities and building relationships across Florida with like-minded funds and angel networks.”
Funding for the investment came from the FSBTGF, which is managed by MaSBEC.
MaSBEC partners with outside organizations that provide small, minority, and entrepreneurial companies with training, development and financing options and assistance. Additionally, MaSBEC capital programs offer loan support, venture capital and small research, as well as development grants for submitting Phase I proposals through the Small Business Innovation Research program and the Small Business Technology Transfer program.
“EFI’s investment in venVelo will positively impact several Florida-based companies in high-growth sectors as well as Florida’s thriving economy,” said Bill Spivey, Vice President of Capital Programs for EFI. “venVelo shares EFI’s mission to help small and minority businesses grow and succeed, which means the return on this investment will likely be immeasurable for our state.”
The fund was created by the Florida Legislature to provide financial assistance to businesses in this state having high job growth and emerging technology potential and fewer than 100 employees. More information regarding the fund, including which businesses may receive assistance, can be found by visiting the technology fund statute page online.
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Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI) is a partnership between Florida’s businesses and government leaders and is the principal economic development organization for the state of Florida.  EFI facilitates job growth for Florida businesses through recruitment and retention, international trade and exporting, promotion of sporting events, and capital funding programs to assist small and minority businesses.
About venVelo
venVelo, the premier early-stage venture fund in Florida for innovative companies seeking capital and mentoring, was launched in 2012 and quickly established itself as one of the most active venture funds in central Florida. It was named the 2014 “Tech Investor of the Year”. In addition to its investments, venVelo board members have been frequent speakers, panelists, and venture competition judges around the state. venVelo also has donated money to a variety of organizations working to develop the central Florida entrepreneurial ecosystem. See for more information.