Boca Raton-based angel investment group New World Angels (NWA) announced today that Ron Tarro will become its new President. Tarro, who had worked as the group’s Vice President of Screening and Selection for the last two years, is taking over from Steve O’Hara, who spent six years as President. O’Hara will become the Chairman of NWA, succeeding Rhys L. Williams, who will remain on the board as Chairman Emeritus/co-founder.
Tarro told Refresh Miami that he is comfortable on “both sides of the table,” having been a software engineer and tech executive as well as an investor. His background is typical of NWA’s membership, which Tarro described as “a collection of operators” offering their knowledge, expertise, and capital to early-stage companies.
“What we’re trying to do is invest in Florida companies,” asserted Tarro. “That’s our North Star.” Tarro hopes to lead NWA with this overarching goal in mind.
Currently, there are approximately 100 angel investors in NWA’s network. “We’ve had a huge growth in membership,” said Tarro. “That has created an interesting challenge, and an opportunity.” He explained that, in the quarter century he has lived in Florida, he has never seen such an abundance of talent and knowledge in the tech investment space. The question now for Tarro and team is how to leverage these experts’ skills.
Sarah Lucas, NWA’s COO, plays a major role in ensuring that NWA makes the most of its membership. For instance, she noted that some deals are mandatory: “Everyone participates in certain deals. Having them write checks once or twice a year makes sure members stay engaged.”
That said, Tarro acknowledged that member participation runs the gamut from passive investors to highly active startup advisors. He said that the main advantage of New World Angels from an investor’s perspective is exposure to and understanding of other industries.
“I’m a great example,” said Tarro. “I’m a software guy, but New World Angels enabled me to make a couple of investments in therapeutics,” thanks to the due diligence he received from fellow NWA angels.
A typical pre-seed or seed check from NWA ranges from $250,000 to $1 million. NWA’s angels are particularly active in healthcare and medical tech; DeepTech; and FinTech, with a new focus on crypto. Recent deals include a $1.2MM investment into Miami-based Swift Sync and an exit from Bradenton-based Qure4U, which brought NWA a $3.7 million return in 3 years.
Tarro expressed excitement about the growth of South Florida’s tech ecosystem, calling it a “profoundly different ecosystem” today than it was when he first arrived in Florida a couple of decades ago. In those days, tech companies were all but required to source talent from out of state. Now, in Tarro’s estimation, that’s no longer the case.
“We’ve got a lot of young, smart founders,” he said. Tarro, who is based in Palm Beach county, praised the work of incubators like FAU Tech Runway and FPL’s 35 Mules as playing a critical role in the development of South Florida’s tech ecosystem.
The growth of Florida as a tech capital is reflected in NWA’s dealflow. The team reports that they receive somewhere around 40-50 qualified potential deals a month. They whittle that down to about 3 companies a month, or just under 40 a year, that are presented to NWA’s membership. From there, approximately 80% go through due diligence.
NWA members end up investing in about a quarter of the startups that go through due diligence. “We’d like to increase that,” said Tarro, underscoring that this can be achieved while still maintaining their reputation as being selective.
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