In four years, this founder has grown his portfolio of angel investments by 10x
Is Palm Beach actually one of the most profitable places for early-stage tech in South Florida?
You might not know it from #MiamiTech Twitter. But one founder-investor revealed to Refresh Miami that his portfolio of early-stage Palm Beach tech companies has experienced a tenfold increase in value over the last four years.
Elias Janetis’s move from Pennsylvania to South Florida 15 years ago was primarily practical. He first moved here to care for his grandmother after his grandfather passed away. At that time, he was in the process of launching MobileHelp, a mobile medical alert and personal health management startup that in 2017 would be acquired by private equity firm ABRY Partners. Soon, he would bring his wife and child down. A decade and a half later, he hasn’t looked back.
“There’s so much opportunity down here,” said Janetis, now the founder and CEO of Squeeze. While noting that the recent boom in the #MiamiTech movement has increased the number of such opportunities, he said that our region’s rise in prominence as a tech hub has been both a blessing and a curse.
“It’s awesome that there’s more of an entrepreneurial ecosystem down here,” he explained. “But I’m feeling the effects of it now as a founder because hiring is much more challenging.”
“It used to be super quiet,” Janetis continued. However, the remote-first world means that top global tech companies are now also competing for local talent that can work remotely. “I feel like it was easier to build a business 10 years ago in South Florida,” said Janetis.
That said, Janetis flagged Palm Beach as an area of particular opportunity in the South Florida tech landscape. “It’s still really challenging for early-stage startups to get funded,” Janetis acknowledged. “That’s one of the reasons why I feel like I’ve done super well with my investment company: there’s some great talent out there but the money’s just not there.”
He cautioned young entrepreneurs to avoid getting swept up in the headlines touting large amounts of VC investment: “If you’re at the pre-seed or seed stage, none of that money is for you.”
Additionally, Janetis noted that a smattering of high-profile financial firms have increased their presence in West Palm Beach, including Goldman Sachs and Point 72. That could have positive knock-on effects for the local tech economy: “There’s so much capital that has relocated from New York to West Palm.”
Janetis’s latest venture, Squeeze, is a free platform that helps consumers find the best deals on major household expenditures like car insurance and home internet. Squeeze’s AI-powered algorithms are constantly trolling the web to secure the best prices on the services its customers use. When it finds a good deal, it notifies the user and helps them make the switch.
Squeeze has raised $14 million since Janetis founded the company in 2016, including a $5 million Seed Round in May 2021. Squeeze’s 40 employees are based in Boca Raton at FAU Tech Runway, an accelerator program in which Janetis previously participated. Janetis speaks highly of FAU Tech Runway and is now an advisor to entrepreneurs in the program. He also invests in participating companies.
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