ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 1, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- VentureScaleUp, an Orlando mentorship-driven accelerator, announced today that it is partnering with the online investment platform Florida Funders to provide access to seed capital to support the startup companies accepted into its 2016 Spring and Fall programs. The accelerator is leveraging the highly selective Growth Accelerator Fund award it recently received from the U.S. Small Business Administration as well as access to the large number of Florida accredited investors on the Florida Funders platform. Additionally, the accelerator opened applications for its 2016 Spring program.
VentureScaleUp launched a pilot program in August with seven startups. The program provided one-on-one mentoring with successful entrepreneurs who have previously scaled and exited companies, focused workshops, and the opportunity to pitch at its investor-focused demo day event. "The results have been gratifying," said Dennis R. Pape, founder of the accelerator. "Two of those companies have since received venture capital funding and others are in talks with VCs. We are excited with this opportunity to provide our entrepreneurs with some extra runway to accelerate their startups." David Chitester, Florida Funder's CEO, said, "I first became familiar with VentureScaleUp during its pilot program as a workshop leader. Most recently, we listed one of the VentureScaleUp pilot program companies on our platform and they have already raised significant capital. Now we will be able to give our investors access to all of the accelerator's companies in 2016."
Pape also announced that the accelerator will benefit from the knowledge and expertise of an Investor Advisory Board, a group comprised of experienced private investment professionals from around Florida who will evaluate companies for the accelerator program and advise their founders on fundraising. The board includes Richard Licursi, Managing Partner at venVelo, a Winter Park seed stage venture capital fund and Tim Cartwright, Chairman of the Tamiami Angel Funds, a Naples family of angel funds. Licursi was a mentor in the VentureScaleUp pilot program. Licursi said, "I am thrilled to continue my involvement with VentureScaleUp. I was a mentor for the pilot program which gave me an opportunity to work directly with the cohort companies. We've since made an investment in one of those companies and are evaluating others. I expect there will be other great investment opportunities with VentureScaleUp companies in the future that will benefit from the access to capital that the accelerator could provide."
"Central Florida is home to many high-growth entrepreneurs in a position to scale their companies," said Dave Porter, SVP of Business Development at the Orlando Economic Development Commission. "As a long time economic developer in the City of Austin, I've learned that an entrepreneurial ecosystem is critical to the long-term growth and diversification of a region's economy. And VentureScaleUp fits this existing gap in the Orlando region by providing high-growth entrepreneurs with other experienced serial entrepreneurs, something the Orlando Economic Development Commission supports."
Dennis R. Pape