By Nancy Dahlberg
In latest move, 305 Ventures partners with Florida Funders
With many small checks, 305 Ventures is making a big bet on Miami momentum - and that’s by design.
305 Ventures is an early-stage fund run by founders who invest in other founders who have a presence in Miami. The partners of 305 Ventures are Joey Levy, co-founder of Simplebet, a global sports betting technology company; Zaid Rahman, founder and CEO of Flexbase, a proptech now based in Miami, and angel investor in 23 companies; Kingsley Advani, founder and CEO of Miami-based Allocations and investor in 100+ companies; and Michael Melikian, an investor in 16 companies. They moved from California or New York to Miami and came together last year to provide a support network for growing tech startups as well as invest in them.
In just the past few months, 305 Ventures invested in 10 startups and has three more fundings in the final stages. The plan is to invest in 40 companies through its $5 million fund, and 305 Ventures is already planning a second fund.
305 Ventures also recently partnered with Florida Funders, a hybrid venture capital fund and angel investor network that recently expanded into Miami, to help Florida Funders find promising startups in South Florida.
I caught up with Levy to learn more about these developments.
Born and raised in Broward County, Levy left the Sunshine State when he was 18 to go to Columbia University in New York. The Thiel Fellowship recipient didn’t finish and has since founded his second sports betting startup, Simplebet, a b2b technology company that has pioneered micro-betting on US sports. The fast-growing Simplebet is backed by $50 million in venture capital.
While building Simplebet in NYC, Levy bought a small place in Miami for when he’d visit his family. “I immediately fell in love with Miami, and I would literally tell my friends verbatim that Miami ought to become a tech hub - that was back in 2017.”
At the start of the pandemic, March 2020, and well before the masses began discovering the Magic City, Levy moved back full-time. When Rahman moved here in October, they set up a group called The305 with the aim of hosting small dinners and networking events and it quickly grew to over 1,000 people. “We were blown away by the quality of entrepreneurs that were moving here and we just decided to start investing in that,” Levy said.
305 Ventures writes checks for $25K to $100K and helps the startups set up shop or expand. While the fund will invest in homegrown startups, so far it has invested in founders who recently decided to move to Miami or are considering it. For example, it invested in Vinovest, led by a founder who was considering Miami or New York for a second location. “He's essentially democratizing access to fine wine and Miami is probably a very good market for that. We will help [the founder] basically set up shop in Miami,” said Levy.
The goal: to continue accelerating the migration to Miami by capitalizing on this unique moment in time.
“They're coming from LA or Silicon Valley or New York, they don't know exactly how to navigate Miami, what groups to get in touch with, what other entrepreneurs and investors to meet with, where to find good talent. We want to be the fund that invests in the business, and helps the entrepreneur navigate this ecosystem,” Levy said. “We're also all founder operators in the thick of it and can help these other entrepreneurs who are raising a pre-seed or seed or even an A round.”
305 Ventures’ partners bring domain expertise in fintech, sports media entertainment, gambling, gaming, crypto, proptech and edtech but will invest outside those boxes, too – for example, Los Dos Tequila, a beverage brand, led by Jeremy Levine. “He's been a very successful entrepreneur in the fantasy sports and sports betting space, but he's also made over 100 investments and he's just a great entrepreneur. We tend to bet on the jockey.”
There will be more investment news to come for 305 Ventures, as it deploys its capital into 27+ more companies. It has reserved part of its first fund for follow-on investments but it also is interested in helping the startups secure larger investments. That’s where the partnership with Florida Funders, the most active funder in the Southeast according to Pitchbook and CB Insights, comes in.
305 Ventures will identify and connect promising Miami-area startups to Florida Funders and together, they’ll generate exposure to potential customers and investors. Florida Funders, which has invested in 9 South Florida startups over the years, recently opened an office in Wynwood and added an associate to the growing Miami team. "With their community building values and company portfolio services combined with our singular focus on uncovering the next breakout technology companies, it is our joint-mission to support the entrepreneurial community in South Florida and draw founders across the country to the region,” said Florida Funders Managing Partner Tom Wallace.
Florida Funders invested in Simplebet’s last round. “They really go out of their way to promote and make relevant introductions for their portfolio companies and they have a suite of portfolio company services that are helpful,” Levy says. When Florida Funders heard about 305 Ventures, the fund invested as an LP, too. Since
“Florida Funders and other VCs are starting to see 305 Ventures as almost like a scout feeder,” Levy said. “Part of building out an ecosystem is just having ample venture capital available at every stage.”
With plans to invest in 40 companies, there’s much more to come. 305 Ventures is also considering writing larger checks as part of a second fund.
Levy sees Miami’s rise as a tech hub as part of a broader macrotrend: The decentralization of Silicon Valley and tech entrepreneurship becoming more accessible in other parts of the country.
“We think Miami is going to lead the pack in terms of democratizing technology entrepreneurship to a new group of people that previously may not have thought that technology entrepreneurship was the path for them.”
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