The tech-networking event known as VenturePitch Orlando may still be a relatively new phenomenon, but it has already helped raise millions of dollars for startup firms from across the state.
Since its inception in mid-2012, the entrepreneurial gathering has played a role – either directly or indirectly – in helping nearly a dozen early-stage companies obtain financing from investors.
Sporting colorful names such as TapShield, Zentila and Fuelzee, 10 tech companies that presented at VenturePitch Orlando have gone on to receive investment from private firms or wealthy individuals, the organization reported.
That's a batting average of about .300 for VenturePitch – not too shabby for only seven quarterly sessions. Overall, 32 companies have been chosen to pitch their ideas to a judges' panel of venture capital experts.
Zentila Inc., a Winter Garden company, landed one of the biggest deals – $1.8 million in venture capital – in the second quarter this year. The company has developed an online convention-booking service.
The most recent deal went to Orlando-based TapShield, which received $750,000 in seed capital earlier this month from public and private investment sources. With its roots in Gainesville, TapShield is using technology developed at the University of Florida to produce mobile tracking technology that reduces emergency reporting and response times.
Other VenturePitch award-winners that obtained financing were Fuelzee Inc. of Orlando (real-time online gas-price system); flexReceipts Inc. of Orlando (retail digital receipts); Meet.com of Orlando (mobile online dating system); 71 Pounds Inc. of Fort Lauderdale (small-business shipping rebate system); Feathr Inc. of Gainesville (convention logistics smartphone app); KeriCure Inc. of Tampa (wound-care technology); Arctico of Miami (prepackaged purified ice); and BitPay Inc. of Atlanta (e-commerce virtual currency).
Moody keynotesat Orlando event
Last month's VenturePitch Orlando meeting featured a keynote speech by Scott Moody, former chairman and chief executive officer of AuthenTec Inc., a Melbourne company that was acquired by Apple Inc. last year for $365 million.
AuthenTec developed fingerprint-sensor-based computer security and other biometric technologies. It was the first publicly traded company to be acquired by Apple. Authentec's fingerprint-ID system was integrated into Apple's Touch ID on the iPhone 5S.
As the CEO of AuthenTec, Moody helped raise more than $70 million in venture capital and led the company's initial public offering.
Lockheed's latest deal with Army
Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control Orlando received a holiday gift from the Army: a contract modification/addition worth $14.5 million to provide engineering and logistics work on a new turret system for the Apache helicopter's advanced weapons-targeting system, known as Arrowhead.
Terms call for the work to be completed by Sept. 30, 2017. All of the work will be done in Orlando. Lockheed received the award from the Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, Ala.
It was the latest deal involving Lockheed's Arrowhead system, also known as the Modernized Targeting Acquisition Designation Sight/Night Vision Sensor. The electro-optical and laser-based system has generated billions of dollars in sales over nearly three decades for the Orlando missiles unit. Hundreds of jobs are tied to the unit's work in Orlando and Ocala.
A next-generation version of the Apache helicopter's original weapons system, Arrowhead essentially doubles the standoff range from which pilots can safely launch precision missiles without a threat from enemy fire.
Nearly a dozen Florida-based aerospace and aviation companies were showcased at the Enterprise Florida pavilion at the Dubai Air Show last month. Deal making at the show resulted in potential sales of more than $67 million for the companies, according to the state's economic development arm. Florida was the only state represented at the fast-growing global airshow. Two Orlando companies made the trip: Airgroup Dynamics Inc. and JBT AeroTec.