St. Pete investor, Florida angels back tech company that takes live streaming to new levels!

One of Florida’s largest angel funding groups has invested $555,000 in Switchboard Live, a live video and social media company.

New World Angels, a group of 63 accredited, private investors and entrepreneurs that provides equity capital to early-stage firms with a significant presence in Florida, joined Mosley Ventures in the $1.5 million seed stage preferred stock offering.

Mosley Ventures, based in Atlanta, was an existing investor in Switchboard Live and funded an additional $500,000. 

Early stage capital is considered critical in developing and retaining companies that will hire skilled talent for jobs that pay higher-than-average wages and foster innovation in the region.

Switchboard Live, headquartered in Orlando, developed a tool that permits companies to direct live video streams to multiple locations, said Carl Treleaven, a St. Petersburg investor who co-led New World Angel’s due diligence team along with Matt Lorentzen. Treleaven will join Switchboard Live’s board of directors.

For a traditional live video, viewers have to go to a specific website.

“The idea is, instead of asking people to go somewhere, you send it to them,” Treleaven said. “It could be multiple Facebook accounts, a Periscope account. ... It’s almost like creating your own private TV network, and the network is delivered to your account when you want to see it.”

Harley-Davidson has used Switchboard Live’s tools for a product launch. In 2016, Switchboard Live took part in Techstars accelerator program and also live streamed investor pitches for the organization. It also was the technology powering the Climate Reality Project, a 24-hour production that live-streamed earlier this week and invited viewers to multi-publish the live stream on their own sites and social networks.

The technology allows those producing the videos to tap into an audience with content that is directly tailored to their interests. That makes it easier for brands and sponsors to reach the viewers they want, Rudy Ellis, CEO and co-founder of Switchboard Live, said during the Techstars presentation.

Switchboard Live has a staff of six and will be hiring more people with the new funding.

“They have a well-developed product. Now they need marketing and sales,” Treleaven said. 

There’s a $1 billion dollar or more market potential, said Treleaven. “We tend to look at deals with big potential,” he said.

New World Angels started in South Florida. Treleaven, along with Tom Cardy, the former vice chairman and CEO of myMatrixx, started the Tampa chapter in 2007. There’s now a chapter in Fort Myers and the group plans to start a chapter in Orlando.

The group has 16 active portfolio companies. Switchboard Live is the fourth new company funded in 2017, and eighth investment overall this year, said Steve O’Hara, New World Angels president and CEO.

“Year to date, we have invested over $4 million into Florida startups and we expect one to two more deals in 2017,” O’Hara said.

Treleaven, a CPA, printing business owner and principal at Westlake Ventures in St. Petersburg, enjoys angel investing because it presents a chance to see a range of new and exciting companies.

“It’s also an asset class that’s somewhat unique, and on the far end of the risk spectrum, but a lot of us feel it’s a good thing to have in your portfolio,” Treleaven said. In a portfolio of 20 companies, “a lot of them will flame out but the hope is that a portion of them will be very successful, and if you get at least a couple to be highly successful it will justify the risk you take.”

Since 2014, New World Angels has invested $13 million in growing U.S. and international companies that are either based in Florida or have a strong presence in the state.

BY: Margie Manning (Tampa Bay Buisness Journal)

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