DeepWork Capital: Providing Capital, Conversation and Connections in Orlando
This article appears in the September 2020 edition of the Center for Advanced Entrepreneurship newsletter.
After years of hearing local entrepreneurs wishing for a Bay Area-like funding environment where they can “just go to a coffee shop and run into venture capitalists,” DeepWork Capital, an Orlando Venture Capital firm, created a “virtual coffee” event. It occurs every Friday for entrepreneurs looking to share what’s on their mind and ask questions. In each of these virtual sessions, entrepreneurs and partners from DeepWork Capital — joined by their friends from a local investors’ group, Orlando SeedFunders — jump into a casual “getting to know you” conversation.
Entrepreneurs are certainly interested in getting to know DeepWork Capital, led by managing partners Ben Patz, Kathy Chiu and Mitchel Laskey. The partners met as angel investors, but in late 2015 launched a fund to invest in the Florida early stage pipeline. They are currently on their second fund. Most of the investors in the funds – themselves included — are successful professionals or entrepreneurs who have exited. DeepWork Capital has at least 17 portfolio companies, according to their website in August 2020. On average, they review over 2,000 deals a year.
Most of these companies come by way of referrals, incubators, universities, conferences and events.
“Our focus is on venture ready, high-growth companies in the technology and life sciences fields,” says Chiu. “In addition to talent, in founders we’re looking for grit and integrity. And while leadership is important, that does not necessarily mean a glitzy personality. We like working with those who can get things done and those who treat other people’s money with care.”
The process starts with a typical screening to make sure the company fits DeepWork’s focus.
DeepWork conducts an overview of the business; making sure they understand their business model and then conduct due diligence on the company (i.e. review the financials, analyze product market fit and go-to-market strategies, evaluate the management team and reach out to customers). DeepWork must be comfortable with the entrepreneur as well as the risks involved and at the same time, ascertain whether they can be helpful. DeepWork does not provide consulting services. The entrepreneur must bring in the core competencies needed to be successful. DeepWork will, however, enhance their competencies by participating at the board level, make critical introductions, brainstorm and serve as sounding boards, and help CEOs in their ‘chess game’ and evaluate strategies.
The DeepWork team knows something about strategies. As experienced venture investors and technology founders, they have experienced success and know what it takes to get there. Managing Partners Ben Patz and Mitchel Laskey have started, built, and sold sizable businesses, and both have received the distinction of Entrepreneur of the Year. Managing Partner Kathy Chiu brings professional investment experience to the team, and is well versed in deal structuring, research, and technology.
Willing to share their knowledge and experience with others, the firm has partnered with the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College to offer not only student internships, but also an immersive entrepreneurial experience for select students which focuses on the earlier stages of entrepreneurial start up, due diligence, and finance.
Speaking of the students on the board for fall 2020 Chiu says, “We are very, very impressed with the student’s work ethic and dynamic range of competency. We look forward to engaging them in our process. Additionally, we’ve hired two Crummer graduates to serve as Analysts within the past few years; Johanna Olsson ’18 MBA and Peter Schaefer ‘20MBA. Before relocating, Johanna had been promoted to Associate. We’ve been very pleased with our choices.”
As the end of the third quarter draws near, students are back to school, entrepreneurs are starting businesses, and the deals keep coming to DeepWork Capital. For more information about DeepWork Capital click here.
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