We also have the lowdown on what qualities the angel group wants in its next managing director.
In the past 14 months, Miami Angels deployed more capital than ever before, and is closing deals in weeks, not months. In the same time period, the angel organization grew its membership by 67%. Now it is looking for a new managing director, as Rebecca Danta has announced she is stepping down to join OnChain Studios as Head of Partnerships.
“Rebecca is leaving Miami Angels on a high! She and her team have matched a cohort of terrific new entrepreneurs with our vibrant investor community to deliver the best year in Miami Angels’ history in terms of total capital deployed in aggregate and per deal,” said Mark Kingdon, board chair of Miami Angels.
Refresh Miami caught up with Danta and Kingdon to report on the record-setting year they’ve had and to talk about the opportunity ahead for a new leader.
First, the catch-up
In 2021, Miami Angels invested $4.2 million, the most ever in a given year, in 12 startups new to the portfolio and several follow-on deals, Danta said. So far, they are on pace to at least meet if not exceed that 2021 pace. Miami Angels has invested another $1 million in 2022 and the first quarter is not even over. ApexEdge was one of its most recent investments.
A big trend: crypto, blockchain, web3 deals. About a third of the deals Miami Angels is seeing now have a web3 component to them, whereas this time last year it was just a few, Danta said. This mirrors at-large VC trends for the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro area. The second half of 2021 saw an explosion of web3-oriented deals, bringing in nearly all of the $800 million in deal value that flowed into crypto/blockchain/NFT South Florida companies in 2021.
Miami Angels also saw a big spike in membership, from 90 to 150 members since the beginning of 2021. Half were new-to-Miami members, part of the amazing momentum that MiamiTech has experienced since late 2020, but the other half, surprisingly to Danta, were locals who suddenly were interested in angel investing for the first time.
Miami saw a number of exits last year, and the Miami Angels had an exit too: Nearpod. Founders have been a key part of Miami Angels membership, and newer members who were former founders and executives who have exited include Seth Cassel and Anton Diego of EveryMundo, Ron Antevy of E-Builder, and Vivian Maza of Ultimate Software.
“For founders, it’s really a way to give back,” Danta said. “For many people, they say ‘when I was building my company because that was years ago there was not a lot happening here. There weren’t a ton of resources. So now I want to give back with my time and my money to new founders’.”
The Miami metro area as a whole saw explosive growth in venture capital investments, and Danta said to stay competitive, Miami Angels moves much faster than a typical angel group. It gave up its monthly Pitch Night model, for example, because that wasn’t resonating with founders. “Founders want investors who can say yes or no quickly so that they can get back to building their business,” she said.
She adds, “We’re seeing that there’s this deep interest from founders to have us on their cap table because when you get an investment from Miami Angels you’re getting an investment from 150 people with incredible expertise and networks based here in Miami that can really help your business grow. “
Now instead of 3-4 months, the deal closing process has taken as little as 2 weeks, Danta said. “And it means that we can more easily co-invest with funds as well,” getting into higher quality deals, she said.
Some things haven’t changed. Miami Angels, founded in 2013, was one of the original players here believing in Miami founders, Danta said. “And still to this day, our goal is to be the onramp into #MiamiTech. We aim to be [members’] curated source for investment opportunities, but we also help deepen their knowledge and their networks as investors.”
The transition: Miami Angels is hiring a new leader
After five years at the helm. Danta recently announced she is joining the venture-funded web3 startup OnChain Studios, creator of Cryptoys, as Head of Partnerships. “We like to say I’m graduating from Miami Angels because we do really see this as a stepping stone in someone’s career. And now we’re looking to hire for my replacement and I’ll be here to oversee that transition.”
Miami Angels is taking applications for its next managing director through the end of this week. They hope to have a new leader in place sometime in April.
“We’re doing an open application process and that’s really important to us because we’re committed to diversity within venture capital,” she said. “We want to see a wide range of candidates.”
Danta said the ideal candidate could be a former founder. It could also be someone who has worked in an accelerator or fund or has been an operator at a tech startup.
“We’re looking for someone who’s passionate about investing in great founders and can be the public face of Miami Angels and ensure that Miami Angels have access to the best early-stage deals in our backyard,” Danta said. “ I think it’s ideal for someone who has a few years of solid experience and then wants to explore different paths.”
Indeed, Kingdon said, “Nico Berardi started Miami Angels from an idea and we didn’t think we could replace him when he left to build his fund but we found Raul Moas who took it to the next level. When Raul went to the Knight Foundation we didn’t think we could replace him, then we found Rebecca who built what we have today. Now that Rebecca is going to Cryptoys, we are saying the same thing to ourselves. But I am sure we will find a leader who can continue to build our community, bring in new entrepreneurs and help us embrace exciting opportunities in Web3 and Crypto.”
Kingdon adds, “The next leader of Miami Angels will be a natural community builder who is quick to match terrific entrepreneurs with smart investors and is excited by all the new opportunities including Web3 and Crypto that we see in Miami today.”
For Danta, taking on the new role at OnChain Studios is a full circle moment, as Onchain CEO Will Weinraub’s first startup LiveNinja was one of Miami Angels’ first investments. “Crazy, right? It feels like just yesterday and so much has changed.”
Danta is also excited about getting back into startups in an operating role. Before she joined Miami Angels she was part of General Assembly’s team. “I think it’s also the ability to work with Will and the OnChain founding team and the ability to learn something new, to be honest, that’s personally how I approach my career path. This is a chance to use the skills that I’ve developed during my time with Miami Angels and transfer those skills to web3 and learn while doing it with a great team.”
Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg and email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
READ MORE ON REFRESH MIAMI:
- Record smashing year for Miami area VC: Top deals of Q4, top trends and more
- Keep up! Miami Angels on a roll with record growth
- Things you may not know about Rebecca Danta, including her expertise in choosing a jamon
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