Five years ago I launched PayPerPost.com with a controversial story in BusinessWeek. Shortly after the launch I was inundated with calls from venture capitalists looking to fund my idea and “help me take it to the next level”. My family has a long history with VCs and investors. My father raised funds and took a company public in the 80s, achieving a $250M market cap. Both of my brothers raised about $30M each from top tier VCs in the early 2000s. I have seen the ugly side of investors and venture capital. When VCs started calling in 2006 I wanted nothing to do with them… and then I met Dan Rua.
An Instant Connection
Most VCs will tell you that they don’t invest in technologies, they invest in people. Unfortunately most entrepreneurs don’t operate in the same way, either out of greed or desperation. I was lucky. I had an existing company that was doing very well, and PayPerPost was taking off like a rocket ship. I didn’t need money. I didn’t want to get in bed with new investors, but that all changed after a few weeks with Dan.
Dan and I connected instantly. When I shared my vision he not only understood it but he challenged me to think even bigger. I told him that I wasn’t really interested in raising money. He told me that we should have more conversations and I should meet some of his associates. Over the course of the next few weeks Dan and I spent a lot of time together. Within 90 days PayPerPost had $3M in the bank and a syndicate of top tier venture capitalists around the table. It all started with Dan and I am eternally grateful for all he has done.
For The Long Haul
Closing a round is one thing, building a company together is another. Like any company IZEA has had its fair share of ups and downs. Through it all Dan has been my rock. I bounce new ideas off of him, share my frustrations and fears, and celebrate the big wins. Over the past few years I can’t tell you how many times he has made the 4 hour commute from Gainesville to Orlando to lend a helping hand. He has been there for the lowest of lows and the highest of highs. Strong. Confident. Understanding but not afraid to tell me what I need to hear. An entrepreneurs VC in every sense of the term.
Lucky Me. Lucky You.
If you are a Florida technology entrepreneur you know that raising venture capital in this state is hard. Really hard. But things have been changing over the past few years. Dan’s firm Inflexion was the first (and still only) early stage fund to focus on Florida. They have made nine investments in companies to date, and there will be a larger Inflexion Fund II in the future. That is great news for Florida startups and something I am extremely excited about.
I lucked out when I found Dan. If you are a Florida entrepreneur (or an institutional / accredited investor looking to make a real difference in our economy) you should drop him a line. Having a money guy in your corner is great, but having a money guy that cares about you and knows what he is doing is even better. There is a reason why Dan is one of the most respected VCs in the industry. Dan Rua is a rock star.