Skin in the Game VC Podcast
Matthew & Michael Vega-Sanz: Finding Passion in the Ordinary
Founders of Lula, Michael and Matthew Vega-Sanz joins the episode of Skin In The Game VC Podcast with Tom Wallace and new co-host Saxon Baum.
Matthew and Michael discuss their journey of creating a car sharing app called Lula. They talk about how they came up with the idea while in college and built an app that initially had many flaws. However, over time, the app gained traction and went viral, becoming one of the top car sharing apps in the country.
They also faced challenges in securing insurance coverage for their rentals but eventually found an insurance company to work with.
The two founders emphasize their passion for insurance and how it touches every aspect of life. The two brothers mention using data points to assess risk when users sign up for their service. Michael and Matthew mention a pivotal moment in which they decided to pivot from being a car rental company to focusing on insurance. Lula provides insurance-related services, including claims management and risk reduction. They help companies save money by reducing insurance expenses and optimizing teams.
Lula has experienced significant growth, increasing their customer base from 99 to nearly 4000 companies in just over a year.
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Laura DiBella: Florida's Tech Bloom40:02Laura DiBella, the Secretary of Commerce for the State of Florida as well as the president of CEO of Enterprise Florida, joins us for this episode of Skin in the Game. Laura explores the robust evolution of Florida's tech industry and the state's response to COVID-19. Florida's open strategy during the pandemic made the state a magnet for tech talents, thereby catalyzing innovation. She acknowledges the pivotal role of a diverse talent pool and universities in creating a vibrant business environment.They shift focus to Enterprise Florida, a public-private partnership established in 1996, aimed at spurring economic growth. Despite its impending merger into the Department of Commerce, Laura counters misconceptions about its effectiveness, underlining its contributions, including the Florida Opportunity Fund, its venture capital arm. She points to its successful model as proof of its integral role in Florida's economic development.Get an inside look at emerging technologies, with Laura unveiling Florida's ambition to be at the forefront of electric vehicle take-off and landing (eVTOL) technology. Florida's geographic characteristics and existing infrastructure make it an ideal location for the deployment of this technology,As for the current political climate, Laura expresses hope for more unity and collaboration in government. She believes challenging economic times could forge a sense of unity, leading to a more stable, effective, and trusted government.
Investing in Startups with Brad Feld48:54Brad Feld, an avid ecosystem-builder, tech entrepreneur, and early-stage investor for over 35 years shares his insights on the venture capital, startup, and tech community in this episode of Skin in the Game VC Podcast. Brad began his journey in tech and venture capital in the ‘80s and has since become a respected and influential figure in the industry. He has written several books on entrepreneurship and venture capital and started blogging in 2004 before VC Twitter existed.Join Tom Wallace as he dives into the world of angel investing in startups with Brad Feld where they’ll discuss his successes, what it takes, and where startup investing could be going.
Building a Betr Company with Joe Levy47:57On this episode, Tom interviews Joey Levy. You may have seen him recently all over the news and social media alongside his business partner and top sports influencer Jake Paul. They have recently launched Betr (initially known as Instabet), the world’s first micro-betting focused app and new media venture for the next generation of sports fans.If you want to learn more about investing in early-stage tech like a venture capitalist, be sure to visit the Florida Funders website at floridafunders.com. Join our angel network at no cost and get access to Florida Funders VC-vetted investment opportunities in the next great breakout tech companies.
Building a Tech Community with Lakshmi Shenoy of Embarc Collective49:47Lakshmi Shenoy is the CEO of Embarc Collective in Tampa, Florida. Tom Wallace discusses her story and how she ended up helping to build and lead the fastest-growing startup hub in Florida. If you like what you hear, please rate us 5 stars and check out other episodes here: https://www.floridafunders.com/category/podcast/
Lessons Learned in Early Stage Tech Investing During Market Downturns39:38Florida Funders partners Tom Wallace and Marc Blumenthal discuss the ups and downs of markets and the lessons learned from the past. Learn more about early-stage tech investing during these times. If you like what you hear, please rate us 5 stars and check out our site: https://www.floridafunders.com/category/podcast/
Tony DiBenedetto: Thinking Big42:56Hello, my name's Tom Wallace, and I'm the Managing Partner of Florida Funders. Welcome to Florida Funders podcast. Our podcast is all about how to make all of us better angel investors, or better founders or entrepreneurs. We really address two audiences here. One thing that I love about angel investing and entrepreneurship is, it's so dynamic, so fluid, and there's always something new to learn, and somebody new to learn from. Our guest this week is Tony Dibenedetto.
29. Elias Torres: Elevating Minority Founders47:36When you paint a picture in your head of the American Dream, what do you see? For many of us, it involves the vision of being ‘self-made’ and designing our own destiny, no matter where we came from. For Elias Torres, the choice his mother made when she immigrated from Nicaragua to Tampa would prove to be a fortuitous one in helping him realize that dream. After his early start at IBM, Torres became committed to the vision of entrepreneurship. With Drift, his current company, he has proven time and again that Latino founders deserve a place amongst the world’s biggest capital projects. Torres is the founder and CTO of Drift, the world's leading conversational marketing and sales platform. Drift helps businesses connect with customers who are ready to buy. After just three years in the market, Drift has become one of the fastest growing SaaS companies of all-time and was named to the Forbes Cloud 100, LinkedIn Top 50 Startups, Entrepreneur's Top Company Cultures, Boston Business Journal's Best Places to Work, and SaaS Company of the Year by the NEVCA. Listen to today’s episode of Investing in Florida Technology and hear how Elias made the incredible leap from struggling to take orders in English at his fast food job as a teen to becoming Chief Technology Officer of his own company. He also discusses dealing with imposter syndrome, starting with a new company just weeks before the 2008 crash, and the major expansion plans he has for Drift.Listen on SpotifyListen on Apple PodcastsListen on Google PodcastsSome Questions Asked: You came here at a young age from another country, can you tell us about that? (01:37)What was your first entrepreneurial venture? (12:32)Can you tell us about Drift, your current company? (17:30)Can you explain to the listeners the difference between venture capital and private equity? (31:29)Would you ever consider moving Drift’s headquarters to Florida? (39:59)In this episode, you will learn:How and when Torres became interested in tech (03:48)Torres’s early start with IBM (06:42)What the original vision was for Drift (21:43)Why venture capitalists love first generation immigrants (25:49)Connect with Elias:LinkedInWebsiteDrift
28. David Blumberg: From the Bay to the Magic City36:18It's been more than 18 months since the COVID-19 pandemic started and we experienced weeks of lockdowns, quarantines, and a total reconfiguration of the way we work.For venture capitalist David Blumberg, the pandemic took him from his ancestral home of California across the country to Florida. Realizing that he was no longer chained to his fixed, physical office in San Francisco, he took the plunge and moved over 3,000 miles in order to take advantage of the up-and-coming vibe of Miami, as well as the state’s business-friendly regulations and taxes. David learned how to take advantage of the pandemic and was able to recognize it as -- as he puts it -- a catalyst of virtualization, innovation, and decentralization.Blumberg is the founder and managing partner of Blumberg Capital, a private Venture Capital firm investing in early-stage IT, digital media, social media, mobility, Internet, e-commerce, payments, SaaS, and tech-enabled services. He also serves as a board member of Credorax, Trulioo, IntSights, and Slync.io. David holds an undergraduate degree from Harvard University and an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Listen to today’s episode of Investing in Florida Technology and find out how David made the leap from studying government to becoming a venture capitalist, how he embraces virtualization, and why he believes that the 21st century will be one of massive innovation and productivity for office and service work. Listen on SpotifyListen on Apple PodcastsListen on Google PodcastsSome Questions Asked: Can you tell our audience a bit about your background and where you grew up? (01:54)You have this tie with Israel, when did that start? (14:10)What do you see in Florida and Miami? (22:41)What are you looking for in a founder? (29:38)In this episode, you will learn:Why Miami made the top of David’s list when he and his family decided to relocate (03:16)About taking ‘acorns’ and turning them into unicorns (09:41)How patience has paid off for Blumberg Capital (12:57)A little about the Israeli company that David and Tom are both investors in (20:01)Venture capitalists either follow the NASCAR model or the marionette model (33:59)Connect with David:LinkedInBlumberg CapitalTwitter