Showcase Angel Investors for Early Stage Tech

Carolyn Groobey and her husband Chris landed in Miami, Florida during the height of Covid in 2021. One of the first things on Carolyn's list was to connect into and learn more about the tech scene there.

On a Zoom coffee meet-up, she was introduced to Maria Derchi-Russo, VP of Platform and Community for Florida Funders and a stalwart in the Miami tech scene through her work at Refresh Miami.

"Maria is synonymous with Miami tech," explains Carolyn. "She began introducing us to a variety of people in the area, as well as the team from Florida Funders. She's great."

Carolyn is no stranger to the tech world herself. Having an undergrad degree in computer science, she began her career in software development for IBM.

"After working on the technical side of the company, I knew I wanted to get more involved on the business side," says Carolyn. So, she pursued her MBA at Cornell and began working in the consulting industry for McKinsey & Company. There, she worked with a variety of companies, honing her skill in digesting a lot of information, figuring out what was most important and coming up with a recommended strategy. This skill has also served her well in her current work as a board director, executive coach and angel investor.

After several years, she joined a startup in the buy now, pay later (BNPL) space, based in Maryland. This company was eventually bought out by PayPal, and she was brought on board as VP of Product Development. Several of her early investments were in companies founded by prior members of her PayPal team. 

After five years commuting to California from Maryland, she and Chris had a mutual mid-life crisis and embarked on a four-year sabbatical cruising the world by boat with their two dogs. “This trip was the adventure of a lifetime and helped us evaluate what we wanted from our next phase of life," says Carolyn. "We chose Miami because of the incredible sailing opportunities, but were thrilled to learn that there is such a vibrant tech and start-up scene here. We think Miami is the most exciting city in the country right now.”

After landing in Miami, Carolyn began getting involved with various angel groups to invest in early stage tech companies. When she was introduced to the team at Florida Funders, she and Chris decided to become LP's in FF Fund 2.

“Although we enjoy being in angel networks and participating in the finding and selection of startups to fund, we also decided to invest as a Limited Partner with Fund 2," Carolyn states. "Additionally, we invest directly on the Florida Funders angel network, when we see an opportunity that we are particularly excited about." Carolyn explains further, "We were extremely impressed with the professionalism and vetting process at Florida Funders. They are able to get and vet the deal flow that we are not always able to get as our own cohort of angels .”

Carolyn gets most excited about the opportunity to mentor the next generation of great founders. She currently sits on two boards. Through her executive coaching business, she is able to help a wide variety of entrepreneurs and leverage all of her invaluable knowledge and experience.

“I really admire the energy, passion and drive of entrepreneurs," says Carolyn. "Providing the advice, coaching and capital to help make them successful is what makes angel investing so rewarding.” 

Our Investor Spotlight series features some of our most active fund and angel investors. Learn more about them and their thoughts on investing.

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