As Florida Funders angel investor Al LaLonde describes it, “I couldn’t have grown up further from the ocean.” LaLonde is originally from a small town in the middle of rural Manitoba, Canada - which he describes as a very cold, but great place to grow up.
He moved to Florida twenty-two years ago for a job in finance with a consolidated services company based out of Boca Raton. “I had never been to Florida in my life,” explains LaLonde. “I finished my school and post university studies, and all I wanted to do was move somewhere warm and near the water.”
After three years with the job in Boca Raton, he moved a little further north to Palm Coast, Florida with another professional opportunity. In the last fifteen years, he’s been working as a CFO for various companies that are private equity or venture capital funded.
“When a private equity or venture capital firm makes a later stage investment, often they require a new CFO to come in and work with the operating portion of the company to make sure they are ready to take on the growth,” explains LaLonde. “I help them work through that or get ready for mergers & acquisitions or a debt sale.”
Whether it is about his investment philosophy or what makes his work fun, LaLonde’s answer is always the same, “It’s all about the people,” he says. Further articulating about his work, "It’s the team that you work with that really makes it fun.”
When asked how he makes his decisions for investing in early stage technology companies, it is no surprise that his first criteria involves understanding more about the founding team. “First and foremost, it is the founder and the team…what can I learn about them, how passionate and driven they are, are they high integrity, what can I learn about their past?” Once he looks at those things, it is then a deeper look at the problem they are trying to solve and how.
LaLonde has invested in several startups on the Florida Funders angel portal. “Thankfully, Florida Funders does a lot of the heavy lifting,” explains LaLonde. “I go through all of the information on the portal, and I also do some of my own Googling. If I don’t know much about the technology or solution, I try to learn a little more about it - what problem is it trying to solve and who else may be out there.”
LaLonde doesn’t have a deep technology background. However, his interest in technology and the problems it can solve is strong. “I love technology,” he explains, "I think technology is and will continue to be a solution to many of our problems in the world.”
When LaLonde is not working or investing in tech startups, he and his wife are learning how to sail and take advantage of the Florida waters that he loves so much. He lights up when he talks about it. “I love the quiet freedom and connection to the water and being away from land…you don’t have the roaring of the engine - you are with the wind, with the water, with yourself more than any other time.”
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