Matching Companies, Investors Venture Capital Forum Showcases Local Firms

By Bryant-Friedland, Bruce | The Florida Times Union, March 4, 1997 | Go to article overview

Matching Companies, Investors Venture Capital Forum Showcases Local Firms


Bryant-Friedland, Bruce, The Florida Times Union


More than a dozen Northeast Florida companies with dreams of

becoming the next corporate giant will get the chance this week

to pitch their plans to people with their own dreams of buying

into a hot new company.

It's all part of the 1997 North Florida Venture Capital Forum,

an annual gathering designed to showcase regional firms,

particularly high-technology companies, with high growth

potential.

Venture capital is the term used to describe the investment

funds that focus on start-up enterprises. By buying a share in

an emerging company, these investors hope to make a killing if

these new businesses take off and go public.

If the enterprise fails, however, the venture capitalist is

left with nothing.

The head of Enterprise North Florida, one of the hosts of the

meeting taking place at the Omni Jacksonville Hotel tomorrow and

Thursday, says the event fits closely with his non-profit

economic development agency's efforts.

"Jacksonville is not noted as a Silicon Valley area," said Alan

Rossiter, the non-profit's president and chief executive

officer.

Economic development on the First Coast has concentrated on

providing marketing assistance, aiding firms in selling their

products overseas and recruiting well-established companies to

relocate to North Florida, he said.

Recruitment in Jacksonville often has involved the use of

government incentives.

Rossiter wants this to change.

"We intend and expect to balance what has been the traditional

focus of Jacksonville," he said.

Fast-growing high-technology companies provide the kind of jobs

needed to secure a vibrant economic base in the 21st century, he

said.

At a series of forums to be held on Thursday, 14 companies from

North Florida will present the details of their businesses to

representatives of more than a dozen venture-capital firms.

Jacksonville Jaguars majority owner J. Wayne Weaver is

scheduled to be the speaker at the forum's luncheon on Thursday.

In addition to the presentations, the forum also will feature

35 exhibition booths and a series of four one-hour seminars

geared to offering early-stage entrepreneurs insight into what

they need to know in order to get their business off the ground. …

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