By Haley Tisone, Community Outreach Manager Black Dog Venture Partners
Meredith Pelton is the Executive Director of the Florida Opportunity Fund (FOF), a state backed venture capital fund aimed at attracting and retaining business in Florida. The FOF was authorized by the Legislature through the Florida Capital Formation Act and established as a not-for-profit corporation in accordance with the Act by Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI) in 2007 to create jobs and expand the availability of venture capital for Florida businesses.
Pelton explained that the FOF incorporates three different programs that invest in a few different areas. The Fund of Funds is a portfolio of venture capital funds and direct investments that target opportunities within Florida. The Clean Energy Investment Program promotes the adoption of energy efficient and renewable energy products and technologies. The Florida Venture Capital Program directly invests in emerging Florida focused companies with strategic importance to the state. There are currently 140 million assets under management and $45 million in capital is available for investment.
The FOF invests in early growth stage companies. One example of an investment FOF has made is a company who has revolutionized higher grade phosphoric acid to help with biological waste. Their investments have been very successful, and one has received unicorn status. Currently they have significant activity in 12 companies, and in total they have invested in 29 entities.
Pelton has a background in startups, as she played a part in building one after college. She was also a lawyer in private practice and had her own firm. This job is perfect for her, connecting both things she is passionate about. Pelton’s favorite part of her job is listening to pitches; weekly she hears roughly five pitches for funding and fifteen pitches for ecosystem building.