Innovation Hub USA

PROSPERA – In 25 years of Service, Prospera has Generated $1.5 Billion in Total Economic Output and Impacted more than 26,900 Jobs Across Florida.


In 25 years of service, Prospera has generated $1.5 Billion in total economic output and impacted more than 26,900 jobs across Florida. Prospera invests expertise and resources in existing and prospective Hispanic-owned businesses, empowering entrepreneurs through training, support, and resources so their business can grow and prosper. Prospera has offices in Florida’s central, south,and west coast regions, and also offers services in other areas of the state on a regular basis. Funded by corporate and government contributions, as well as funds raised through special events and contracts, it is able to offer all of its services at no charge to clients.


Left to Right Back Row: August Sanabria-President/CEO of Prospera along with West Coast team members, Fabia Yepez-Vice President, Claudia Johnson-Senior Business Development Consultant, Diana Teixeira-Business Development Consultant, Maitte Velez-Business Development Specialist, Leidys Gonzalez Customer Service Receptionist. Left to Right Front Row: Success Stories Luncheon Honorees were COS Janitorial owned by Oscar Pineda and his family, ISSA Rehab owned by Patricia de la Ossa and Guillermo Saavedra and Paola Beauty Boutique owned by Paola Cruz.

Dr. Cruz Maria Ceino, owner of Happy Kids Pediatric Dentistry

Prospera has partnerships with numerous key organizations to accomplish our mission of supporting Hispanic-owned small businesses in the Tampa Bay area, such as, Clearwater SPARK, Pinellas County Economic Development, Hillsborough County, and the Entrepreneur Collaborative Center.


BUSINESS SEMINARS | Presented in Spanish, orientations for startups and advanced workshops on topics that are vital for the success of a business.

BUSINESS CONSULTING | Ongoing and personalized guidance to identify opportunities and overcome challenges of the existing or prospective business.

BUSINESS GRANTS | Subcontracted professional services vetted and paid by Prospera.

ACCESS TO CAPITAL | Assistance throughout the process of obtaining traditional and micro-loans.

We strive to make a difference with our clients so that they can be better equipped for their small business endeavors with modern and innovative ways to develop their business model, start, grow and expand. Below are some clients that we have awarded at our Success Stories Luncheon for their prosperous small business successes. Success Stories Luncheon is a signature event that pays homage to several successful clients. With more than 500 attendees, this event brings together government, civic and business leaders to celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit in the Hispanic community.

Left to right:
Prospera Team: Augusto Sanabria-President/CEO, Claudia Johnson-Senior Business Development Consultant, Diana Teixeira-Business Development Consultant, and Fabian Yepez-Vice President of West Coast

Roberto Torres owner of Blind Tiger Café

Victor Liu – An Explorer and Adventurer

Victor Liu



Victor Liu

Victor Liu is an explorer and adventurer. He was born in Hong Kong, studied in Thailand before attending Universities in America.  He received his BS in Urban Planning from University of California at Davis and his MBA in Finance from New York University.  He has lived and worked in CA, OR, NY, TX, and in Tampa Bay areas of Florida the past 13 years.  Besides two short stings working for Macy’s in store development and for Citicorp in new product development early in his career, Victor has owned and operated several businesses until retirement from operation 3 years ago.

  Since 2010, Victor has been an active angel investor with direct investments in 70+ startups and 20+ as part of group investments. He has done with 25+ exits so far.   In 2014, he received the Angel Investor Extraordinaire award from The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Tampa chapter.  Victor has been a mentor, on judge panel of pitch competitions, and regularly attending various accelerators’ demo day. 

Victor is very supportive of Florida startups and invested in more than a dozen FL companies, including several local Tampa Bay startups: Exmo – later Event Joy, SavvyCard, and UpValet with more to come.  Victor enjoys meeting bright, energetic, and resourceful founders and fellow successful investors. 

According to Victor, FL and Tampa Bay have come a long way in the past 7 years.  Then there was almost nothing happening related to startup. He only found a Tampa chapter of a FL East Coast angel group.   He joined an angel group in Sarasota and later one in Orlando.  Now there are incubators/co-working spaces everywhere: Tampa Bay WaVe, TEC Garage, The HuB, USF Connect, Oxford Exchange, and Station House…  There are investor groups plus new ones in the forming stage, and several funds have raised money for startups in the past few years. 

It takes many to work together to build, nurture, and support our startup ecosystem.  It will take time but we are on the right path.  Victor wants to continue to do his part and help put Tampa Bay on the map to attract and retain talents to our areas.

FIRST ROUND TAMPA BAY – It is Inspiring to See People Go “All In” With a Startup Business

First Round Tampa Bay - Meeting



First Round Tampa Bay - Meeting
Rich - First Round Tampa Bay

The first round of financing is typically too small for traditional venture capitalists, and has the highest risk. The availability of this kind of financing is critical to the development of a tech ecosystem. 

It should also have the highest potential economic reward.

First Round Tampa Bay is a group of local investors who came together in 2016 to fund a local startup called Phonism, LLC through convertible notes. They formed a single purpose Florida LLC called First Round Tampa Bay – Phonism, LLC for that purpose. 

The investors include local lawyers, software developers, real estate developers, doctors, business people and tech entrepreneurs. Where possible, the investors mentor and share their advice and contacts with the startup in order to help it grow.

While Phonism was the first investment, the idea is to create a process that can be easily replicated to fund other startups with no set cast of investors.

First Round Tampa Bay will continue to seek out and fund additional local tech startups in the Tampa Bay area.

First Round Tampa Bay - McIntyre Thanasides logo


Pilot Bank - Founders



Pilot Bank Logo Wall
Pilot Bank - Founders
Pilot Bank - Cash

After realizing there was no community bank headquartered in the Temple Terrace area to serve clients, John Puffer, Ann Ross, and Dr. DeWeese secured a charter to establish Terrace Bank which later became Pilot Bank. Founding Director Ann Ross recounts the bank’s humble beginnings, “We were just trying to serve the local community in a way that was missing and that original purpose is grounded in everything we do.”

Now, with over 30 years of service and approaching $300 million in assets, Pilot Bank has successfully grown into a regional bank with five strategically located banking centers. There are presently four locations in Hillsborough County serving South Tampa, New Tampa, Temple Terrace, and Upper Tampa Bay. In 2006 Pilot Bank ventured into Polk County and opened a Lakeland office in the city’s business district.

Pilot Bank - client
Pilot Bank - service

The holding company for Pilot Bank, Pilot Bankshares, Inc. was established in 1995 and The National Aircraft Finance Company (NAFCO) was acquired the following year. As one of the leading aircraft financing companies in the nation, it added financial strength and diversification to the corporation.

NAFCO was of personal interest to the late John Puffer, as a pilot himself. His love of flight inspired the name of the bank; piloting your future and successfully navigating the financial world. Today, Pilot Bank has positioned itself to be a solid and well capitalized financial institution guiding small business owners, entrepreneurs, and individuals to new heights.

Pilot Bank continues to build around great teams, strong partnerships, and the idea that banking is still at its core, about one on one relationships. Two of the bank’s main core values are integrity and client satisfaction. Uniquely hands on with clients, whether personal or business, Pilot Bank gets to know the people and businesses they serve.

Pilot Bank - Building
Pilot Bank - lock
Pilot Bank - Uniquely hands on with clients
Pilot Bank - hand shake

Each market is led by bankers who know the community inside and out, visiting with clients and their businesses for an unparalleled up close and personal approach. While Pilot Bank helps clients and their businesses travel far and wide, it is a great source of pride for the bank and clients alike, that their deposits are reinvested back into the Tampa Bay community. Commercial deposits propel small business loans bringing revenue and jobs to the community. Pilot Bank knows that when small businesses work with a community bank, Tampa Bay wins. 

Celebrating their 30th anniversary in 2017, the bank plans to continue to inspire and assist entrepreneurs in realizing their dreams. Steady growth will continue to lead Pilot Bank’s own expansion. The Pilot Bank team take great joy in being good corporate citizens remaining highly active in the local community.  They regularly participate in, sponsor, and support several organizations like Making Strides, Big Cat Rescue, American Heart Association, American Stage Theatre, Paint Your Heart Out, Outback Bowl, Ronald McDonald House, the Indo American Chamber of Commerce, Working Women of Tampa Bay, USF WLP and more.

Pilot Bank group

OAKPOINT ADVISORS – Established to Identify, refine and Deliver World-Class Alternative Investment Managers to Institutional Investors Around the Globe

Oakpoint Advisors - tampa downtown skyline
Oakpoint Advisors - tampa downtown skyline
Oakpoint Advisors - logo

Oakpoint Advisors was established to identify, refine and deliver world-class alternative investment managers to institutional investors around the globe.

Oakpoint Advisors 2017 Coughlin

As a registered broker-dealer headquartered in Tampa, Florida, Oakpoint has helped attract a number of alternative asset managers to do business here on the Gulf Coast with its unique platform based in Tampa Bay. Founded in 2009 at its offices at 320 Park Avenue in New York City, the company was ledto Tampa in 2013 byits Founder and Managing Partner, Gerry Coughlin.  Over the years, Oakpoint has developed into a robust service provider to assets managers. The company provides comprehensive marketing, capital formation services, as well as non-investment functions including accounting, cash management, equity execution services, middle-office operations and compliance support to select investment managers.

After a previous opportunity brought Gerry Coughlin to Tampa in the early 2000’s, the beautiful weather and balanced lifestyle led him to decide to relocate from New York and further develop the business in Tampa. Oakpoint operates out of their headquarters in downtown Tampa, while leveraging offices across the NY metro area, Chicago, and Boston.  While most of their clients are located across the U.S. and overseas, the majority of Oakpoint’s management and support staff is based in Tampa.

Oakpoint Advisors Group 2017 Coughlin

The alternative asset industry is challenging and constantly evolving. Oakpoint has developed a differentiated model that is designed to meet current challenges by integrating both capital raising and infrastructure services.  This model allows asset managers to focus on generating alpha while achieving a cost effective, scalable business.  Oakpoint seeks to effectively raise capital for proven investment managers by alleviating the daunting responsibilities associated with growing the AUM of the business. Oakpoint’s process demands a deep understanding of the manager’s investment strategy and management style.Its senior capital team acts as an extension of the investment manager, with the ability to succinctly convey to prospective investors what differentiates their client from peers in the marketplace. Oakpoint’s team has led successful campaigns across a range of strategies, drawing on its extensive institutional network consisting of endowments, foundations, public and private pensions, consultants, insurance companies, sovereigns and large family offices.

Oakpoint Advisors - Metropolitan Ministry
Oakpoint Advisors 5k

In addition to the capital raising platform, Oakpoint provides select investment managers with a customized, integrated operations support platform.  Oakpoint’s Manager Services offering addresses the non-investment aspects of the business, allowing managers to focus on their investment process, generating alpha and delivering best-in-class risk-adjusted returns. By leveraging this platform, investment managers gain access to a seasoned team, creating organizational stability while allowing the manager to maintain equity. Non-investment functions are critical to the success of every investment manager. Oakpoint’s team has a proven track record of executing on fund launches, creating a strong accounting and operational infrastructure, responding to investor due diligence requests and helping develop and implement compliance policies. Together, the capital platform and manager services create a compelling, comprehensive structure to enhance emerging asset managers and set them up for steady growth and long term success.

100 S. Ashley Dr. #1130

Tampa, Fl 33802

Phone: +1 212-588-8400

GAZELLE CAPITAL – “We Are Growth Catalysts”

GAZELLE CAPITAL - St. Pete Aerial View




Whether you’re considering selling your business, preparing for your next investor pitch or simply looking for clear visibility into future cash fl ow, our dynamic team will help you navigate through the toughest business challenges. “We Control Risk”.

GAZELLE CAPITAL - Ashby _ Barry Rowdies
GAZELLE CAPITAL - Dominion Happy Hour
GAZELLE CAPITAL - northshore

Our brain-trust understands what makes your business unique, which is why we take the most intimate approach in identifying our client’s needs. “We are Genuine.”

We carefully listen to your objectives, aspirations, challenges and frustrations so we can establish a continuum of solutions to help get you where you want to be. “We Create  structure.”

Whether you’re looking for help in Finance, Operations or Strategy, we step in as deep and expansive as you need. “We Are Growth Catalysts!”

What is a Gazelle Company?
A Gazelle Company is a high-growth company that increases its revenues by ≥ 20% annually for four years or more. This growth pace means that the company has effectively doubled its revenues over a four-year period. Gazelle companies are characterized by their rapid growth pace, rather than their absolute size
therefore, can range in size from small  companies to very large enterprises.

Ashby Green – Founder, Barry Carter – Managing Partner, Holly Cao – Accountant,
Carissa Garcia – Executive Administrator

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Florida Venture Forum – a statewide network that successfully prepares, coaches and connects entrepreneurs and growing companies with equity investors

Florida Venture Forum - 2017 Venture Capital Conference
Florida Venture Forum logo
Florida Venture Forum - 2017 Venture Capital Conference
Florida Venture Forum - Kevin Burgoyne

Kevin Burgoyne
President & CEO, Florida Venture Forum

Florida Venture Forum - Pat Schneider_Vice President

Pat Schneider
Vice President, Florida Venture Forum

The Florida Venture Forum is a statewide network that successfully prepares, coaches and connects entrepreneurs and growing companies with equity investors throughout Florida and beyond, via events, conferences and other networking platforms and activities.

Since its founding in 1984, the Forum has become an increasingly important contributor to Florida’s economy. To date, Forum companies have raised approximately $3 Billion dollars in capital funding after presenting at a Forum event. The Forum’s mission is critical in support of Florida’s economic development strategy of creating an innovation driven economy for the generation of high-wage, high-skilled job growth in the 21st Century.

Presenter - Florida Venture Forum
Florida Venture Forum - discussion
Florida Venture Forum - Networking
Florida Venture Forum - Kevin Burgoyne and Pat Schneider_FVF

The Forum’s role is also critical to Florida’s economic development drive for its unique ability to cross major metropolitan borders in a large geographically diverse state. Most organizations connecting entrepreneurs, early-stage companies and investors are city/ region focused, while the Forum is statewide, allowing for greater connectivity across Florida. The Forum also plays a critical role in attracting investors from other states. This is critically important to Florida companies as out-of-state investors offer unique strategic connectivity and growth opportunities, and it is important to the State’s economic vitality as outside sources of capital have a much more pronounced effect and spending multiplier on the economy.

Florida Venture Forum - Attendees Shaking Hands

For more than 30 years, the Forum has been creating much-needed business “collisions” among entrepreneurs, early/growth-stage companies, infrastructure support organizations such as higher education institutions, and venture capital firms. These collisions support greater linkagesacross the state, and between Florida and other states, accelerating and fostering the creation of a statewide innovation and knowledge-based economy for 21st Century growth.

Simply stated, the Florida Venture Forum’s mission is to connect Florida entrepreneurs and capital sources to foster a thriving innovation economy.

Florida Funders – On a Mission to Create a Florida as Well Known for Technology and Innovation as it is for Tourism and Oranges

Florida Funders - Group Final
Florida Funders - Group Final

Florida Funders is on a mission to create a Florida as well known for technology and innovation as it is for tourism and oranges.

florida funders logo

Florida Funders is a hybrid of adventure capital fund and crowd-funding platform  that invests in early stage technology companies here in Florida. The firm is led by an experienced team of serial entrepreneurs, venture capitalist, and experienced angel investors with proven track records of successful exits and a shared passion for growing the next generation of Florida tech companies. Florida Funders is committed to helping start-ups grow into successful enterprises that will positively benefit the Florida business landscape and overall economy.

The key to the firm’s success lies in its ability to identify the very best investment opportunities by applying a rigorous, highly structured vetting process and solid investment thesis developed by its highly experienced investment committee. The selection process starts with a company’s founder. Florida Funder’s mantras is: “We bet more on the jockey than the horse.” Because everyone on the investment committee is an entrepreneur who has successfully built and exited one or more technology
companies, they know that grit, perseverance and stamina are primary character traits for an entrepreneur to be successful. Beyond the founder  the investment committee looks at:
• Size of the addressable market 
• Scalability of the business model 
• Technology and the problem it is solving 
• Competitive landscape 
• Potential for at least a 10X return.

florida funders - Tom Wallace Head Shot

Tom Wallace

florida funders - Marc Blumenthal

Marc Blumenthal

Florida Funders Inv Committee

“We bet more on the jockey than the horse.”

florida funders - Kevin Adamek head shot

Kevin Adamek

florida funders - Marc Sokol

Mark Sokol

The involvement of Florida Funders does not stop once it has provided a company with funding. Post-funding, the firm treats its portfolio companies as partners, providing value-added resources to help their businesses grow.

Florida Funders  assigns  an  operating  partner, who typically takes a board seat and works closely with the CEO to ensure their investment dollars are being deployed wisely. 

The firm uses its partners, their networks, and  its  investors to provide coaching, industry advice, and introductions to potential customers as well as later-stage venture capital firms. These resources give start-ups the best chance to succeed at building a break-out technology company that will in turn hire highly skilled professionals, lease valuable commercial space, and make a positive economic impact on Florida’s communities.

Florida Funders has a committed venture capital fund that takes part in every vetted Florida Funders investment opportunity. The Florida Funders online equity crowd funding platform allows accredited investors to register to review detailed information on investment opportunities, and invest in these companies alongside the Florida Funders venture
capital fund. Since the Florida Funders venture capital fund invests in each offering, investors always know they are investing alongside smart

Accredited investors can register for free to become investors on where they get access to investing details and transaction-relevant information posted by the companies that Florida
Funders has carefully selected and vetted for funding.

1311 N. Westshore Blvd., Suite 101
Tampa, FL 33607


NEXUS - skyline of downtown tampa, florida



NEXUS - skyline of downtown tampa, florida
Nexus Blaire and Mike

Thanks to partners like USF, UCF, and the High Tech Corridor Council, NEXUS members have invested over $16M into 59 Florida companies and over $26M including co-investment partners.

NEXUS has launched chapters in Orlando, Tallahassee, Ocala, Palm Beach, and supports a virtual network for dispersed investors. Seeds are planted to launch Tampa, St. Pete,  Melbourne, Miami, a university alumni chapter, and a statewide chapter for female investors.

In order for us to launch a chapter, we seek at least 3 individuals and one entity (fund, family office, corporation) willing to: join annual membership ($950 per individual or $3,000 per entity – donation to a nonprofit), invest $50K + in the first year, and recruit their peers to join the group. 

Early-stage companies should apply at floridaangelnexus. com. NEXUS receives 10+ applications for funding per week via our online portal and hosts a weekly webinar on  Wednesday mornings that showcases two Florida companies. Research shows the importance of adequate deal flow, building a portfolio of over 10 companies, and pooling due diligence from investors with diverse expertise. 

The Board of Investors for each chapter have control over how their chapter operates. As NEXUS launched, significant research was conducted interviewing investors on the barriers to building a portfolio of Florida ventures and interviewed investors outside the state to learn best practices to reduce risk and drive returns.

NEXUS built platforms and workflow to enable investors to use their time efficiently and effectively, allowing them to focus their time on creating value for their portfolio and community.

The chapter’s Board of Investors can decide:
• How often, when, and where they meet
• Which companies come to present at live events (the centralized NEXUS team provides a list of the companies that have risen to the top)
• Who is invited to join the chapter

Nexus partners

“Becoming a NEXUS member has been a game-changer for me and my portfolio. NEXUS connects me with Florida’s best and brightest entrepreneurs and investors and showcases the top early-stage companies in the state. It also provides a platform to educate communities on the merits of angel investing. It’s a fantastic organization.” – Matt Johnson, Johnson Magrath & Partners

Angels and the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
The secret is out and an increasing number of accredited investors are now
allocating a portion of their wealth to build portfolios of growth-oriented
ventures. Florida’s strong network of research universities and institutes along with our state’s history with aerospace, defense, and advanced manufacturing makes our region a hotbed for tech investment opportunities. The activity of investor communities and investment funds is on the rise providing direct and passive opportunities.


Startups and the American Economy
• Volume: Angels invest around $25B into 70,000 companies each year
• Returns: Research shows 20-25% portfolio returns plus creating next generation jobs/companies
• Prolifi c: Angel investors support up to 90% of outside equity raised by startups
• Jobs: Over a 25-year period, fi rms younger than fi ve years accounted for all of the net new jobs in the U.S.
• Avg. wage: Technology workers earn 30-50% more than the median wage in major SMSAs
• Economic growth: Research shows that the largest growth comes from high-growth, innovative ventures (the kind angels fund) 

Entrepreneurs Count on Angels
• Capital to bridge the funding gap to institutional capital
• Business mentoring, monitoring and guidance
• Critical connections for customers, strategic partners, additional funders, and acquirers
• Connecting business growth and exit wisdom, subject matter expertise, and innovative ventures

University System
• Home to 135 colleges – 78 public and 56 private
• 12 member state system produces > 10,000 STEM grads
• Powerful research institutions with billions of dollars of intellectualproperty ripe for commercialization

Science and Technology
• 1st in computer training employment
• 2nd in space and defense manufacturing employment
• 3rd overall in engineering services employment
• Established mid-sized businesses serve as management talent pool and potential strategic alliances

Public Support
• Incubator, co-working space, and entrepreneur centers
• Public funding boosts early stage returns within FL

Phone: (386) 530-3714 | @FLAngelNexus

Citizinvestor – We empower citizens to invest in their community and create real change.

Citizinvestor - Playground
Citizinvestor - Playground
Citizinvestor - GovTech_100_2017_Badge
Citizinvestor - Randels headshot

Joy Randels, CEO, Citizinvestor

Citizinvestor logo


We empower citizens to invest in their community and create real change.

In 2012 when money for civic projects became constrained, many were placed on hold due to a lack of funding and we were personally impacted in our neighborhoods. As we explored the problem, we discovered that if given the opportunity, citizens would propose, and even be willing to pay above what they already pay in taxes, to see projects they care about come to life now, not 10 years later when the city might have the budget.

Citizinvestor - children playing in fountain
Citizinvestor - statue Unconditional surrender by Seward Johnson
Citizinvestor - Sarah Library

The list of projects like renovating neighborhood pools, building new parks and constructing playgrounds, libraries, or educational and cultural programs are nearly endless in every municipality. Because government doesn’t always know what citizens want, we also provide tools for citizens to propose ideas for projects and programs they want to see in their communities.

“Citizinvestors” believe in their community and they want to contribute. Since we began we have seen thousands of citizens around the world come together turning vacant lots and dangerous eyesores into playgrounds, youth centers, or community gardens. Citizens pledge to donate, tax-deductibly, to the projects they care about most and once the project reaches 100% of its funding goal, the project is built

While we would love to take full credit for inventing this form of civic engagement, crowdfunding of public projects in the United States can be traced as far back as 1884 to the Statue of Liberty.

Today we are witnessing the rise of the micro-philanthropist and crowdfunding platforms are empowering average people with five or ten dollars can be modern-day Carnegies and Rockefellers and build things they feel most passionate about. We are witnessing the democratization of philanthropy and we are proud to be the catalyst for that movement.

If we are willing to invest our money, our time and our ideas, we, the crowd, can build a better Tampa Bay together. We can build the next great American and Global cities and truly change the world. We hope you will join us.