Home Venture Capital Venture group launches regional network from St. Pete • St Pete Catalyst

Venture group launches regional network from St. Pete • St Pete Catalyst

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An Irvine, California-based venture capital group is expanding its national reach and has chosen St. Petersburg to host its southeastern network’s headquarters.

TCA Venture Group recently announced the launch of TCA Southeast to foster startup ecosystems in Florida and Georgia. The firm was formally known as Tech Coast Angels and changed its name to reflect an operational shift.

Chairman emeritus David Friedman explained that most of TCA’s deals now originate outside of California. The firm’s leadership also realized the untapped potential of new technologies emerging from universities throughout Florida.

“We have a strategy to expand; we have a strategy to improve our deal flow,” Friedman said. “This was part of it. It’s just logical.”

Scott Kelly, CEO of St. Petersburg-based Black Dog Venture Partners, said the city would serve as TCA Southeast’s “hub.” He knew Friedman from his time on the West Coast and told his colleagues that the local tech ecosystem presented ideal investment opportunities.

Kelly will serve as the group’s St. Petersburg contact and facilitate partnerships throughout the investment community. He will also help entrepreneurs apply for funding.

Frederick Fey and his brother, Christopher, will serve as TCA Southeast’s co-presidents. They operate from Florida’s east coast, and Frederick has extensive ties to the University of Florida.

Fey, a self-described lifelong serial entrepreneur, said angel investing was historically unorganized and has since evolved. “It’s really beneficial because the startup economy is what generates all the jobs and a lot of the initial wealth and growth in America,” he added.

“And what is really heartening is to see this organization coming together and bringing skills and multiple people and the technology now to communicate and share ideas. There’s a whole new level of innovation going on.”

TCA currently has over 425 members and three angel funds. In addition to capital, the firm provides mentoring, industry connections and operational assistance.

TCA members are accredited investors. The firm’s website states that they typically invest about $50,000 annually.

TCA Southeast members will have access to investment opportunities throughout six separate networks. The goal is to increase available capital through collaborations with local angel groups, universities and startup accelerators.

“We’re going upstream,” Friedman said. “We just introduced a new accelerator that will help feed our business, that will feed better deals. TCA is changing the way we’re looking at the entrepreneurial and startup ecosystem.”

Kelly relocated from Phoenix to St. Petersburg in August 2022. He quickly realized the University of South Florida and local innovators were creating “great” technologies that outside investors “don’t know enough about.”

Kelly wants to help creators at USF and other colleges turn their ideas into fundable products and companies. He believes TCA Southeast will aid those efforts.

“I fell in love with the place,” Kelly said. “I fell in love with the culture, I fell in love with the entrepreneurs and I fell in love with the community. Honestly, that’s why I approached David (Friedman) and Fred and Chris (Frey) about opening a chapter in St. Pete.”

Friedman called the city the “tip of the spear” for TCA’s Florida and Georgia operations. He also noted members could move between regional networks to increase opportunities.

Frey expects success due to Florida’s favorable business climate and a steady influx of new residents. “I think we’re in a very special time to be involved in all of this,” he said.

The partners repeatedly stressed the benefits of virtual meetings. However, Friedman will travel to St. Petersburg May 23 to serve on an investment panel at Kelly’s VC Fast Pitch event.

“TCA has a lot of great programming that we’re going to make available to the entrepreneurial and startup community,” Kelly said. “I’ll put David (Friedman) on the spot – I’m going to cajole him into participating in that as much as possible.”

 

 

 

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