Brian Susi is a life long learner and all around curious person. Having moved to Orlando from South Florida twenty years ago to attend college at the University of Central Florida, he instead stumbled into a successful career as a real estate agent, broker and then investor. He considers himself an entrepreneur in real estate, investing in everything from residential to shopping centers to land development sites. "I don’t really stick to one area. I just find wherever I think there is value or I can create value," he explains. "That’s basically what I’ll do for that year or multiple years depending on how long the project takes.”
In recent years, Susi has also become more and more interested in technology and early stage startups. "When you are an entrepreneur, you are always trying to grow," explains Susi. As a dad of three kids under the age of 8, he tries to inspire this same philosophy in them. "I try to expose my kids to entrepreneurship, technology and ideas. If they have a question, we try to see if there is a YouTube video that we can all sit down and review together. I try to help them think outside the box - not just going along with the ways things are supposed to be."
This hands on, exploratory learning philosophy has also served him well. He began exploring the nascent technology scene in Orlando about 5 years ago, attending several meetings at Orlando Tech. "I like to surround myself with entrepreneurs and people taking risks," says Susi.
Susi learned about Florida Funders about 4 years ago in Orlando and was instantly attracted to the mission to expand both technology and capital in the state of Florida. "It just makes sense that this is the next phase of Florida's future growth," Susi emphatically states. "One of the major friction points for investors (in early stage tech), is that we all want to be a part of things like this, but I know I was never taught about venture capital as an investment opportunity," he goes on to explain. Susi attributes his early learning days in this space being aided tremendously by the team at Florida Funders. "Florida Funders taught me the basics, and it makes me a lot more equipped to be a better investor."
Susi has now invested in about 25 companies on the angel network, all between $5,000 and $50,000 each. "The way you have it set up makes it really easy for someone like me to come in and know this thing is fully vetted. I then get to listen to the pitch…it’s like shark tank and you can say yay or nay," says Susi speaking about the Florida Funders angel network investment process.
Susi still invests in real estate which is a big portion of his overall investment portfolio. But, he has a special place in his heart for investing in early stage tech as he explains, "One thing I like doing is not only building the portfolio. If I sell a big shopping center, I want to pay it forward and invest in early stage entrepreneurs. There is a lot more heart and soul in this than anything…helping to create opportunities for jobs and growth in the future."
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