Startups, South Florida, Venture Funding with Rhys Williams

Startups in South Florida are looking for capital and funding. Rhys Williams is a well-known name in the area, he is part of New World Angels, also directed TECH Runway a few years at Florida Atlantic University..  We spoke about several topics including good and bad investments, the value of accelerators & incubators, even how we met back in 2002 at the University of Florida as I was part of the “UF’s Entrepreneurs’ Club” actually, one of the founders. together with Ahmed Kourouma, Erick Coffie, and a few crazy engineers that saw value in startups. Twenty years later, we meet and record this podcast for my audience from the EGLAVATOR, EGLA CORP’s tech incubator. 

Rhys Wiliams at EGLAVATOR studios – TECHEDTV Podcast

Rhys Williams Bio

hys L. Williams is the CEO, Co-Founder, and Director of MedicSmart, a VC-backed startup digitally transforming the workplace safety & emergency medical response space (presently in stealth mode).  From 2016 to 2021, he served as Managing Director of the highly successful FAU Tech Runway technology incubator/accelerator program & TRIN investor network.

Mr. Williams has more than two decades of experience in the early-stage life sciences realm, having co-founding three biotech spinouts from three of Florida’s institutions of higher learning.  He is also an active member of the Florida angel investor community, having co-founded the New World Angels in 2003, Florida’s most established and successful structured angel investor group (immediate past president; current chairman), with several successful exits across the domains of therapeutics, medical devices, and healthcare IT.  Recognized as one of 50 “Power Leaders in Technology” by the South Florida Business Journal, Mr. Williams has also testified before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Technology and Global Competitiveness.  

Mr. Williams received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College magna cum laude and both a law degree (JD) and an MBA (with honors; class president) from the University of Florida.  Additional work experience includes CapSoft (president, e-commerce venture), SI Ventures (institutional venture capital firm affiliated with Gartner), Ixion Biotechnology (VP-finance/associate general counsel), Smith Barney, TranZitions (operations director/corporate counsel, HR venture), and American Express. 

 Mr. Williams is a U.S. Army veteran, having served as commander of a Special Forces Combat Diver Detachment (“green beret”). From 2018 to 2021 he served as an appointed director on Harvard Alumni Association national board (representing Eastern Florida and Puerto Rico) and continues to serve with the Harvard Club of the Palm Beaches (president) and the Harvard College Fund.  

Other board service includes the Florida Venture Forum, the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium (immediate past chairman), and the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention (advisory committee).  Former board activities include the Angel Resource Institute (director of research), Aplicor, Inc., and the Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research (gubernatorial appointee; treasure of venture capital fund).  He is also a graduate of Leadership Florida (Cornerstone Class 22) and Florida Blue Key.  Mr. Williams is admitted to the bar in both Florida and New York, and he speaks both advanced Spanish and functional Portuguese.  A fifth-generation South Floridian, Mr. Williams, his wife of 30 years (Dr. Lorna Williams), and their two children reside in Palm Beach County, Florida

Transcript by 



00:00:20.130 –> 00:00:36.000
Good evening, Good morning good afternoon, you guys are watching TECHEDTV
with doctor edwin hernandez and today we have a great guest an entrepreneur that I met twenty years back we just make a number just a few
minutes back twenty two now at twenty two years ago when we were just
nobody at the university of Florida

00:00:36.660 –> 00:00:56.160
 where’s grad students learning to be an entrepreneur and then he was he was there he saw that beginning at us and how you have turned into a what it is today so how are you Rhys

i’m not doing
really well and it’s such a pleasure to be year really daughter gray
great and now

00:00:56.160 –> 00:01:00.150
and so we’re all happy to see angel investment in florida

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and any one days here in the incubator gets a little bit of money from
from the incubator few thousand dollars maybe twenty thousand and
fifteen thousand and not a lot lot not not a huge race but sometimes
as and after proof

00:01:15.701 –> 00:01:35.130
of housing one at and news great dairy now to to select those
investments yeah you know it’s the same as always been will lie in
december will begin our twentieth year which is just the a wonderful
thing i think for self floor and the state just because you’re where
members and members of members by members former meeting investors

00:01:35.520 –> 00:01:55.260
have we have a staff that we don’t you know we’re we’re of these are i
guess recall hyper hobbyists meeting go it always is our obsession
angel investing in working with entrepreneurs and and assisting them
not only with capital within buys an opening doors and helping them
even on sales calls with they get national accounts strategic accounts
from trying to do our best and help grow the business

00:01:55.680 –> 00:02:09.270
after the investment by dangers of the treasury in it to your question
hasn’t changed a lot you know and in really novel interesting idea in
a growing space so when i see novel something your differentiated
years on a me to read something different

00:02:09.840 –> 00:02:29.910
i could be other the products i could be of the business model side of
the delivery of the product of server side and management team because
we look for that entrepreneur really is the key the key mover right
you need and hey i’m see how that a lot of passion and energy and and
a really good field understanding of your space for also you can’t do
it alone i was very encouraged to see something here

00:02:30.000 –> 00:02:43.200
elevator guy of one of the signs on your talks about the importance of
t v so true you cannot be the sea of and the genius and sales and
marketing and the product development guy contract and it

00:02:43.200 –> 00:03:03.150
all you know i mean you to wear a couple maybe or two three as you can
wear them all and so we look for someone who’s really smart about how
do you compensate how do you amplify yourself you know you could me
through a consultant we could read through cofounder it could be
employee but most early stage can we can’t afford a lot of ways it
could be an advisor

00:03:03.360 –> 00:03:23.520
neither is getting a little bit of stalker non he could be arise
reward it could be any number of things but really as invested into c
d have you thought it through and and you have access to incredible
human capital to give you the advice and the experience and and
everything you need is no one can do it on while so basic

00:03:23.520 –> 00:03:26.100
lila got like a lot of people give saying is a you want

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combination team an idea and that combination is a one that brings the
value for new or angels and and them that tell me one thing right now
like was was a good investment you guys have may like the headlines or
something like that either or out what what has come out of like new
one angels that he’s been now famous

00:03:47.280 –> 00:04:07.200
yeah so good i’m not proud to say you know for for folks that are
doing this on a full time basis but you know and and but we do a staff
of three and we get ninety we go to ninety six and ninety nine members
we haven’t broken hundred yen but we’ve expanded originally started in
broward you know folks from it wouldn’t come up from miami and down
from welcome but we’re now have six stuff

00:04:07.200 –> 00:04:27.360
or sites in oh is that it’s one one club that really six different key
cities around the steve said that would be out of there’s was polish
boko there’s lauderdale miami there’s naples there’s fort myers and
there’s tampa and even orlando it a couple members there and everyone
that near we tie in every month or but very active my the scenes terms

00:04:27.390 –> 00:04:47.520
sourcing and screening into due diligence so far we’ve had i think
eight exits and again that’s that’s not bad for folks in a group of
law and a good guys and are just hobby or jack technology addicts and
and are just like the game we like how work and entrepreneurs of the
one i think our biggest success

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yes was a healthcare i to play was in the an earpiece face okay i’m
sorry of medical records i am done of health health care record
management and know it’s ironic because it’s and crowded space but you
know this one team really had a unique give way to differentiate
themselves they were an excellent at it and egg

00:05:07.680 –> 00:05:27.840
executing blocking and tackling and are you know that we got in right
before they’re just kind of beginning of the ramp and sales and now
all they do is beach and while they do is when you know you wouldn’t
say looking at is it will gosh that’s a crowded space and gusher do
anything but they were in a so are we got out when think we made about
eleven attacks on that investment wow this that

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sagal days ago returned as every return and it was a short holy period
i think we do they are accident but time from the time we invested to
the time of x it was about four years wow as and almost in goes as
prevent the anna congratulations and now when the and and then
basically laker so we see it was was the radio lot of rejection the
say because we had to be honest

00:05:48.030 –> 00:06:08.160
into bernard right a lot of people think okay and went to new or
angels and percent where are their chances to like the actually be
selective on there a damn well over fifty eight italia it’s very
consistent with the venture capital industry as a whole so we fund
about two percent of what we see any of her gaze am so you guys have

00:06:08.220 –> 00:06:28.320
we had to do percent chance to get selected cash so you bet at best to
a lot of people desolate that the game will let me let mucosa there’s
a bright side to that is that many on should many entrepreneurs we
didn’t invest right out the bad we made me what are we touch base and
see like you’re what you’re doing is really interesting and were
really impressed with you and your challenger team by you know there

00:06:28.320 –> 00:06:48.480
as a few more milestones would like it a down that income circle back
in the you know my sometimes and six months sometimes the terms and
eighteen months so i would see every year you have a two percent shot
so guys walk of get really five okay okay so is a is a compound that
for supply really have actually okay good good good that that’s a good
idea like by

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like persists as a thing as i look at laura lot of entrepreneurs or is
seen in the come here for example and they have families shoes a have
a job issues they had to base they have to pay for multiple dabs that
they didn’t they didn’t disclose when they came initially and that
enzo basically break in the coffin and because and then after three
module realize that there were

00:07:08.670 –> 00:07:28.800
looking for an investment to brace financial holes in their in their
own balance she is so then them in that regard and you have now
financial failures so was the that the the failure rate if you can
disclose that to to the into printers here and what will the main
reason that you found that failure

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what was the main characteristic that you see if i see this this this
is has ninety percent chance of fail

00:07:35.610 –> 00:07:38.520
wow hey there’s a couple questions in their father

00:07:38.910 –> 00:07:52.440
let’s see well let me give you hi this is a shutout shutout to you and
know and and to bow folks that do it will you do is you are also an
entrepreneur and a technologist by running a know an incubator like

00:07:53.100 –> 00:08:13.200
i used to run the check runway incubator and floor ilana university
for about five and a half years i left about a year ago by dumb you
know one statistic that really i thought it was incredibly under
celebrated in that is a rate of failure generally for entrepreneurs is
probably ninety percent of been if you go through

00:08:13.236 –> 00:08:33.060
incubator program we enjoyed a community where you’re getting
mentorship had access to resources and introductions and also just
having a community of people to talk about and to bounce ideas off of
and to help think himself above the floor when you get and clock right
in the face by reality

00:08:33.873 –> 00:08:53.520
you can cut the failure rate is sixty percent watson yeah no that’s
significant and i’m a big believer i wasn’t always a believer baggy
dog go back twenty years ago when we met i didn’t believe in the
incubator accelerator model by having seen first hand the power and
what a difference it can make in success i’m a huge believer so

00:08:53.520 –> 00:09:13.680
so i would say to anyone prior to joining community try to and not
just something we are you show for drinks at happy hour and once a
month but it really immerse yourself in a community where you have to
be accountable to know your gym button to your neighbors and to your
landlord and everyone will show up in the shop everyday the ad astra
like a fat

00:09:13.770 –> 00:09:15.240
like here we have ah

00:09:15.660 –> 00:09:35.760
mean like a free will die over were little bit a libertarian so we
don’t wanna like impose rules to be vulture so we wanna make them feel
free to the whenever they want but at the same time they can now and
they face a crowd every two weeks and percent what they’ve done so
than them than the second week is ugly week we got or call it a day

00:09:35.760 –> 00:09:55.920
emerald a big we’ve we’ve we call it the pitch day bad though me and
then was i looks more like a damn what a so weakest are demonstrating
that we’re doing something for cash it or you get a customer or maybe
you would you get a new a new developer did you did something
something something for rest and that basically is the essence of of
of everything like that the the see

00:09:55.980 –> 00:10:16.035
the community put in print you like on the spot basically is a a will
have you done is a missing you eat su human beings the ones they face
the had the how do stuff because then they and their prestige their
value them is is becoming more like a facade basically just say go and
and that’s ultimately what what couch and or something else what i’ve
seen is

00:10:17.210 –> 00:10:36.350
what do you think about that private equity plays in in in into
partnership for example this backs like a little people have come over
here anyway have some people learn and his bag be as as that they have
said low wanna use as town igniting a bunch of start ups in these in
these areas because our don’t of like feeling companies that it would

00:10:36.500 –> 00:10:41.900
with them grow story with the start of but with the cattle from the
get the game business would you think of the model

00:10:43.130 –> 00:11:02.570
well i think right now it’s kind of challenge to go there was a period
of time when it made a lot of sense when interest rates for near zero
and i’m there was so much money coming through the economy from from
public sources and private sources the own did during the tech boom or
now and the check bust the next cycle you and i have lived

00:11:02.570 –> 00:11:22.250
through now five cycles and boom and bust attack their been movements
small ones of course but this is looks like a big one i don’t think
the spat work at right now is is credible as it was it might it might
have another day by don’t think right now is the day i’m not an expert
but i know there’s a lot of these bagging and come you know so

00:11:22.730 –> 00:11:42.740
that’s a financing strategy i would encourage entrepreneurs to stoop
to their passion for a product and service strategy they’re getting
they’re taking on this huge risk because are believers right they
believe that they can bring a new product or service to market in a
way that no one else has done before and they can not only read remake
the world for their products space

00:11:43.280 –> 00:11:56.480
but they can create huge amount of wealth for other stakeholders and
of the sad thing is is one strategy but i think temporarily it’s day
as coming on it may come back for right now there’s other ways i think

00:11:57.080 –> 00:11:59.480
and how about that the crypto markings danza like

00:12:00.560 –> 00:12:20.570
people are like you saw here bunch of energy projects people are
working on metaverse as media and the gmo have the media ever since
which is or or coined version on the metaverse should have been
augmented reality los dos technologies where where where where are you
thoughts on and and where your initial intuition with and if these for
example out huge huge believer by you know

00:12:20.690 –> 00:12:40.730
and i think that everyone’s news in the space or are heroes sadly a
lot of heroes and not gonna survive arabian the it’s it’s competitive
right now but don’t i don’t think it’s an amazing source of innovation
and i think the applications for these things we were just scratching
the surface honestly and i do think it’ll become a key part of how we
live and do business using

00:12:40.760 –> 00:13:00.890
and to use and variety of ways and the same thing with crypto and
block chain and distributed ledger all that is you know related but
i’m a huge believer i don’t think the angels and well and say it is as
many different types of angels or there’s a inverse their restructured
angel gives me the haven’t caught him to the opportunity and they good
looking living just trying on

00:13:00.940 –> 00:13:21.050
stay at a better as and wait for some of the surge be rescued risked
and some of the winters to emerge maps but there’s still plenty of
funding source setting from funds and from family offices and from
individual angels a huge believer and of i didn’t you know that the
thing is i investors have

00:13:21.050 –> 00:13:33.110
june force themselves to get educated on the space it’s easy to say
not other day and dismiss it with your hand but if you cheat one
seminar and get your eyes opened a get it it makes sense

00:13:33.770 –> 00:13:53.570
who’s going to be many winters and just one not just or your bitcoin
just got nine eyes at an hour and that was telling my friends is in
nineteen ninety six ninety ninety five when i began and now with the
internet people were like okay that was an email on as and you can
send an email here as a all you became was that add the what is that
symbol the at symbol right

00:13:53.930 –> 00:14:14.000
oh the i have a will i never use and and i could a migrant were and
early my noise on my computer so then back then as you can see those
faces doesn’t have the phases into they will drift when i’d use plain
to a lot of into bernard business people and then were like you said
scratching the surface maybe like point one percent or less on perform
prison population has a wallet

00:14:14.600 –> 00:14:34.250
so that and indicative dead okay ninety nine point nine percent on
even know what a while it is here if i we were in the enough to the
conference two weeks ago my not a month ago and they and now we were
asking a lot of people are working through as i do have a wallet is a
huge the i do and they were pulling their their their their wallet
there there there’s stand there was not on all like cash because i

00:14:34.250 –> 00:14:41.870
want to give you an d is a oh not have as explained to me and of
course we have to start with the beginning okay this is a dog

00:14:42.260 –> 00:14:44.900
do you know all that this is that they said the the currency

00:14:45.590 –> 00:15:05.690
and then anyway so so that’s that’s an indicative dad that that that
market good progress and i think we’re running out of time are is i
know you have up a breath and depth of knowledge that you could share
with us as a as a as an angel investor but does thank you very much
for coming and as we’re we’re gonna be collaborating more when you are
angels and and with you

00:15:05.720 –> 00:15:12.650
space is bear specifically best very kind of when we the we’d love to
see everyone’s opportunities and plants and just please go to our

00:15:13.670 –> 00:15:33.470
w w that new world angels dot com and you know patient polite
persistence pays patient polite persistent space it is flying keep
documented or if you have an investor for like ever hundred attorney
or another investors someone that that doesn’t hurt either facilitated
introduction but we absolutely will get every player

00:15:33.560 –> 00:15:37.880
it’s comes to the website so okay or i thank you very much guys have
agree that by

00:15:42.320 –> 00:15:44.990
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