A little about Chris Byers
Over the last six years, I’ve worked with PS27 Ventures, providing FP&A assistance to portfolio and potential portfolio companies. In early 2021, as we began to launch the PS27 Rhea Fund, I joined as a more permanent team member to serve as the Fund Manager. After decades of experience as a finance and accounting leader in a couple of large corporations supporting many functional areas in the business, from operations & logistics to supply chain, to sales, to marketing, to merchandising, I went on to leverage that experience to help startups get on the right track to help them manage their business’ financials and improve their reporting professionalism.
I’m from Jacksonville, where I graduated from Edward H White High School and Florida State College of Jacksonville, where I then transferred to Boca Raton to attend Florida Atlantic University to earn my BBA in Finance and International Business and then my MBA.
I am the Fund Manager for the PS27 Rhea Fund. I serve on the Investment Committee for the PS27 Rhea Fund, where I’m involved in all deal reviews and conduct all financial reviews for the fund’s potential portfolio companies. In addition, I’m responsible for fund accounting and reporting for our limited partners.
I love working with PS27 Ventures for multiple reasons. I love the comradery of the team and the uplifting, transparent culture. I love that it’s Jacksonville-based and that the company actively participates in the growth of its innovation ecosystem. And I love being part of a company that actively helps founders grow viable businesses in a real way, through cash and through our ongoing advisory services to our portfolio companies.
Tell us about your vision for the future and Jacksonville’s innovation ecosystem. Hopes and dreams for 2023?
Jacksonville has established a firm foundation for an innovation ecosystem, with its robust and diversified economy, not to mention Northeast Florida is a beautiful place to live. With this foundation, there is an excellent opportunity to attract high-quality founders from around the country and perhaps even emerging from the area’s established companies to work on innovative solutions in areas where we have already demonstrated strength, such as the Fintech, MedTech, Heath Care, Logistics, Transportation, Aviation, and Aerospace industries.
In 2023, I’m expecting that a recession is likely and that national unemployment will increase. We’ll see continued contraction from tech companies until the Fed hits its goals of cooling down the economy. I hope that when many of these highly educated tech veterans with entrepreneurial aptitude look for their next stop, they find Jacksonville an attractive place to launch a new venture.
Don’t give away too much too soon. Focus on finding revenue sooner than later. Show your big vision but raise enough to accomplish a significant milestone or two and have one of those milestones be revenue related. In 2023, the path to profitability is essential. Keep the cash burn low; a lean startup philosophy is viewed favorably. Meaningful self-funding and strong friends and family round is viewed favorably. Your ability to round out the business’s most essential skills within your founding team demonstrates your ability to sell your vision. Get a good accountant. Know your numbers; Understand your numbers.
What’s your favorite thing about startups you’ve discovered so far, and what do you want to see next?
My favorite thing about startups is seeing the diversity of ideas that gets founders fired up. Plus, I love to see the variety in startup founders’ personal stories, professional experiences, perspectives, motivations, and visions are so interesting. I love getting the opportunity to meet such a diverse group of people with the shared vision of starting their own company.
So many people are trying to start their own companies, and we see many similar ideas where founders bring diverse experiences to the table. I would love to see more founders work together on a common cause. Likewise, I would love to see more founding teams where they have met through tackling a common cause.
What’s the best thing startups can do to help build the innovation ecosystem, and why should they do it? What’s the benefit for all?
I suggest that startups focus on doing everything they can to build their successful business. Success begets further success. The culture of a thriving, sustainable innovation ecosystem is developed when individual startups create a compelling product or service offering where they can acquire customers, grow their revenue, add good salaried jobs to support further growth, attract other businesses into its sphere, and provide all the stakeholders an opportunity to make a great living and grow their wealth.
Connect with Chris Byers on LinkedIn to learn more.