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Tampa Bay Entrepreneurs Get Their 15 Minutes for Funding

October 13, 2015 / Tampa Bay

Uber and Florida Funders teamed up on Friday to give almost 40 Tampa Bay entrepreneurs the opportunity of a lifetime: 15 minutes of undivided attention from an established venture capitalist in the backseat of an Uber. After three hours of hearing pitches, the potential investors who participated declared UberPITCH a rousing success.

“It was fun and worthwhile,” said Lance Raab, one of the participating venture capitalists and partner at Florida Funders. “One of my UberPITCH riders presented their startup tech company. They have an exciting product, and they are already generating revenue and growing their customer base. I am inviting them back to pitch my partners at Florida Funders.”

Local companies like Tembo Education Group, Phonism, Universal Rock School, Life Enabling Tech, Health Hero, Living Escrow, Tocobaga Consulting, and Rescue Writing—to name just a few—jumped at the chance to attempt to land funding. In total, there were hundreds of requests from local entrepreneurs attempting to participate in UberPITCH.

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“We had a great response,” said Dave Chitester, another one of the investors participating. “We are planning on follow-up meetings with at least four of the companies to talk about funding.”

Uber already partners with thousands of local driver-partners, all of whom embody the same entrepreneurial spirit that was on display during Friday’s promotion. UberPITCH is just one more way that Uber is positively impacting the Tampa Bay community.

The success of UberPITCH can be attributed both to the incredible local startup community in Tampa Bay and the amazing (and very busy) venture capitalists who were willing to make themselves available for three hours. To learn more about the participating venture capitalists, read on:

David Chitester
David has been starting companies from scratch and building them into profitable enterprises in Tampa for nearly 25 years. He sold his first company, Chitester Management Systems, to Hill International, a public construction management firm headquartered in Marlton, New Jersey. David sold his second company,, to a group led by the Tampa venture capital firm, Stonehenge. His latest venture, Florida Funders, is an Internet portal that links investors to entrepreneurs seeking capital. With a goal of keeping our startup talent in the state, Florida Funders aims to provide seed capital to promising tech entrepreneurs to help them succeed.

Kathleen Chitester
Kathleen has more than 30 years of experience in marketing and more than 15 years of experience starting companies. With professional consultancy firm Chitester Management Systems, she managed its legal, administrative, marketing and public relations functions. Kathleen also proved instrumental in developing seminars and training programs nationwide, including the groundbreaking Construction Comedy School. Co-founding, an industry leader in on-line continuing education, Kathleen then played an integral role in positioning that firm for strong, next stage growth before co-founding the popular Latin social network Questamente. Kathleen also co-founded PayPerVisit email, revolutionizing email delivery and recognized by EConsultancy as a finalist in its annual Innovation Awards, and Vetrack, an online continuing education portal serving veterinarians.

Irv Cohen
A visionary leader with a history of achievement at starting and building world class businesses, Irv has held senior positions for major Wall Street firms including JPMorgan, Barclays Bank and Lehman Brothers. Irv’s positions and experience includes the following: President of JPMorgan Treasury Technology Company, Chief Operating Officer for Barclays Bank, US, Senior Vice President- Lehman Brothers,TiE Tampa Bay -Executive Board member and Charter member, Managing Director – Innovations Capital Group, Executive Director – Southeast Capital Equity Group, Executive Vice President – DHS Technologies, Board Member – Big Brother Big Sisters, Board Chair – Learning is for Everyone, Board Member – C2One, Board member – American International Lifestyle, Council of Professionals- USF Connect, and Former Board Chair – Tampa Bay Innovations Center.

Sheryl Hunter
Sheryl is the founding partner of Hunter Business Law – The Entrepreneur’s Law Firm™ – in Tampa, FL. For 19 years Sheryl has worked with hundreds of small businesses, from start-up to exit. She has developed her boutique firm specifically to meet the unique needs of entrepreneurial clients. Sheryl is deeply immersed in the growing ecosystem of entrepreneurship in Tampa Bay and is a frequent speaker on topics such as The Partner Trap: Escaping the Cons of Business Co-Ownership. Hunter Business Law works closely with Florida Funders to inject capital into early stage Florida companies, hosts The Entrepreneur’s Afternoon (T.E.A.) monthly and has just launched Club 119, a packaged plan of services for small businesses.

Travis Milks
Travis is responsible for sourcing, underwriting and executing growth equity investments at Stonehenge Growth Equity Partners, a growth equity investment firm focused on technology-enabled businesses located in Florida and the southeast. Prior to joining Stonehenge, Travis was an Associate at Morgan Keegan & Company, where he assisted investment banking clients from various segments of the technology marketplace. He also worked as a Summer Business Development Manager in the Online Services Division of Microsoft Corporation.

Brian Quimby
Brian is the President of Tessitura Capital, a Tampa based hedge fund where he invests in a wide range of companies both private and public. He serves on the Board of Directors for Priatek, a St. Petersburg-based technology company and for Square Peg Entertainment, a game production company. He also serves as an advisor to Florida Funders, an online venture capital firm, as well as several Bay area start-up companies. Brian is a third generation Gator, having graduated, with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Finance, from the University of Florida, in Gainesville. In a previous life he served leadership roles at a mortgage company and a financial services firm.

Lance Raab
Lance has been a successful technology entrepreneur since 1987. Lance was the founder and CEO of IDEAL Software (dba REPS Software), which he started in 1987. REPS grew to become one of the leading publishers of software for the senior living industry. Lance sold the company to MDI Achieve in 2007. While running REPS Software, Lance also started IDEAL Consulting, a provider of ERP, CRM and Business Intelligence solutions. IDEAL was acquired by Tribridge in 2006. Lance is now working on his latest venture, JazzMedia, LLC, a privately held company that owns, develops and invests in domain names and internet web ventures.

Mark Swanson
Mark is a serial entrepreneur and angel investor who has successfully started and grown six multi-million dollar companies in the last 23 years – three of them in Tampa Bay. He has raised over $70mm in investment capital and has personally invested in over a dozen startups. His industry recognition includes two Inc. 500 companies, Gulf Coast Entrepreneur of the Year, Ernst & Young International Business Plan Competition, New Media Invision Award, New York City’s Champions of Technology Award… and winner of the Tampa Bay Tech Jam Battle of the Bands for his non-rendition of FreeBird.

Paul Taormino
Paul is the CEO and founder of Maverick Internet Ventures. He also founded and serves as a managing partner for Schematic.

Tom Wallace
In Tom’s own words: “I spent two years on Microsoft’s Partner Advisory Council, which was a great experience. I am also co-founder and former president of the Tampa Bay Technology Forum (TBTF) and presently serve on its Board of Directors. I am also a past Trustee of the University of Tampa. I am very active in the tech and start-up community in Florida and believe that growing our technology ecosystem is vital to ours and our children’s future. I am originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania–Go Steelers! I love living in Tampa, Florida and have been here for over 20 years. We have great weather most of the year, and I live so close to the RedVector office that I can, and sometimes do, ride my bike to work.”