David Brim on business, marketing & life.

Orlando Opportunity Fund: The Journey & Launch

Contributor: David Brim November 18, 2019

Today we hosted the official kickoff event for Orlando Opportunity Fund. The City of Orlando Mayor’s office proclaimed today to be “Orlando Opportunity Fund Day”. Very cool huh?

It’s been a journey! I am very thankful for the launch and am looking forward to the impact we are working to create in Central Florida.

Orlando Opportunity Fund is a qualified Opportunity Fund committed to producing investor returns while advancing our Central Florida entrepreneurs, communities and local economy through investments in commercial real estate and early stage tech startups.

I’m proud to be a partner in the fund and serve as the Chief Strategy Officer.

The journey

Through my whole professional life I’ve had a dual passionate interest in startups and real estate investing. Even looking back to my college experience at UCF, I started two ventures – one in real estate, and another that was a tech startup. Interestingly enough I won the school’s business plan competition twice (for each of those ventures), won nearly $20,000 in school, and to date am the only one to ever do that.

In addition to building my own businesses (SaaS companies, online directories, marketing agency, lending businesses, etc), I have also worked with over 1,000 growth stage companies on marketing strategy through economic gardening, GrowFl and my work with the Edward Lowe Foundation. This gave me an inside look into growth companies, their challenges and the business models I liked from an investment standpoint.

After exiting certain ventures, or if I was unable to responsibly re-invest into the growth of a given company I started, I would take my chips off the table and invest in real estate. I’ve been investing in real estate for over 10 years now.

I’ve truly committed myself to learning both asset classes and have had experience operating and managing both on the front lines.

All the while I have had a HUGE heart for Orlando and our local startups. Much of which stemmed from my experience working to raise money in Orlando for my startups, which was very much an uphill battle to say the least.

I invested that passion into creating Orlando Entrepreneurs, an asset for the community created to connect, cultivate and celebrate our local entrepreneurs. My focus was to shine light on the entrepreneurs building great businesses and help them to connect to the right resource at the right time, and gain the funding they need to start, scale and stay in Orlando.

The need

Unfortunately our Orlando market has really lacked startup funding. There is a great amount of wealth and capital here, but much of it was invested in real estate. Figuring out how to unlock portions of investors portfolios to invest in startups is something many in our community have been trying to crack for some time.

The birth of an idea

In late 2018 I began exploring models of how local government could possibly incentivize real estate investors to allocate a portion of their portfolio into startups. I thought, maybe if they did they could get a discount on their property taxes.

After conversations with the city and county, the model didn’t validate as local government gains much of their operating budget from property taxes. It just isn’t something they can afford to risk.

In January 2018 I was introduced to a new legislation called Opportunity Zones, that was just enacted through the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act on December 22, 2017.

This legislation incentivizes investors to invest in Qualified Opportunity Funds that invest in areas designated as Opportunity Zones. These funds can invest in businesses and real estate. To learn more about Opportunity Zones, read my article featured on Forbes – 7 Must Knows Before Investing in Opportunity Zones.

A light bulb clicked!

I dove deep into the Opportunity Zone market and got in very early. I spoke with my accountants, attorneys, colleagues and nobody had heard of them.

I decided to set out to create Orlando Opportunity Fund.

From idea to execution

I sought out trusted colleagues that I’ve worked with over the years and began building a team of very experienced veteran investors. Full bios can be found on our fund website.

  • John Cooper – President of Startup Investments
  • Vince Wolle – President of Real Estate Investments
  • Donna Mackenzie – Chief Financial Officer & COO
  • David Brim – Chief Strategy Officer

It’s been a long road from building the team, putting together the business plan, waiting for clarity of the regulations, working with attorneys, validating our model with investors and much more.

Our fund is very unique and Central Florida has never seen anything like it. We are targeting a raise of $20M+

  • 70% allocation to commercial real estate
  • 30% allocation to startups
  • Opportunity Zone tax incentives for investors with qualifying gains

The goal is to provide ongoing investor returns on their total fund investment driven by the real estate rental income, while providing a chance for wild appreciation that can come from successful startups. Investors (with qualifying capital gains) also get some great built in tax benefits (such as tax free appreciation on a 10+ year hold). Furthermore communities that have not seen much growth economically and those living and working in these areas can have the opportunity to advance.

It was wonderful today to officially announce the launch of our fund.

The proclamation was also really cool! Thank you Mayor Buddy Dyer and the City of Orlando Team.

I’m looking forward to the impact our fund will make for our entrepreneurs, communities and local economy.

Stay tuned!





A poem for you, Dad

Contributor: David Brim May 6, 2019

Today is my dad’s 80th birthday. My dad has been such a wonderful and positive influence in my life. But what gift can you purchase for someone that has everything materialistically that he wants?

I decided to craft this poem expressing my gratitude, some of the lessons I’ve learned, and experiences we’ve had. I’m sharing it publicly to celebrate how wonderful my father is on his special day, but also to spread some of the impactful lessons I’ve learned.

Dad, it’s your 80th birthday and not just any gift will do.
So, I decided to write this poem for you.


There’s so much to say…
Where do I start?
You’ve loved me from day one with all your heart.


You read to me when I was small while I sat on your knee.
And often put me high on your shoulders so I could see.


We’d add license plates up to work on my math,
and by the time I hit school I was far down the right path.


You encouraged me to develop my voice and speak my mind
and address problems head on so they don’t sneak up from behind.


You were always there for me and did what a father should
and corrected me when I was wrong and not being good.


You’ve always had my back and picked me up when I fell.
You inspired me to dream and pushed me to excel.


You encouraged me to be great in all that I do
and taught me the process for making my dreams come true.


Stay focused and work hard to persevere…
and find the best mentors to be in your ear.


You dedicated so much of yourself to help me achieve,
investing so much time that many would not believe.


We spent many hours in the gym at Greenway, Duquesne or Pitt…
I’d have to make 10-20 in a row before I could quit.


You were at every game and never missed a beat,
and would drive us long hours where my Cleveland team would meet.


And when I was down or feeling blue,
you gave me the wisdom and perspective to help me get through.


You inspired me as a leader, a principal with thousands at your school
With rival gangs, fights and challenges you always kept your cool.


We’ve shared so much together and had many fun times.
Way too many to pack into these few rhymes.


Trips to Giant Eagle, you’d leave all the workers with lots of smiles
A short trip would always take a long while.


South Dakota, Arizona…so many places we’d go.
In Jersey we got stuck in a hotel for days due to snow.


No itinerary needed, you and I always had a blast.
We’d sit and talk and let the time pass.


Being a new parent, I appreciate you and Mom so much more.
Lindsay & I didn’t know all the hard work we had in store.


Alana & Cruz are very blessed to have their grand-dad’s love
Whether from Pittsburgh or one day shining down from above.


And even though you’re far away and can’t teach them directly
The lessons you taught pass through me effectively.


Through it all I know this much to be true,
I couldn’t have asked for a better dad than you.


And Daddio, I have one more final thing to say…
I wish you a very happy 80th birthday.

Love Always,



17 Startup Lessons Parenthood Can Teach

Contributor: David Brim May 7, 2018

Recently my wife Lindsay and I were blessed with our greatest adventure yet…becoming parents.  In our case we were blessed with a two for one deal and had twins! A beautiful boy and girl.

Our journey to parenthood wasn’t easy, we “tried” for over 5 years, followed by a complicated pregnancy which included my wife being hospitalized for six weeks and followed by a 28 day stay in the NICU for both of our babies. Everyone is healthy and happy now and we feel so incredibly blessed!

Nothing can truly compare to the feeling that comes along with being a parent, and the love that you have for your child, or in our case children. However, during a recent conversation Lindsay and I discussed the similarities of parenting to co-founding startups. While we are new to being parents (and do not consider ourselves experts by any means), both Lindsay and I know what it is like to start a business and get it off the ground. As we continue down our journey of parenthood, we couldn’t help but notice they have a lot in common.

We decided to co-author this post together. We hope you enjoy it! Without any further delay, here are our 17 lessons learned from our two little startups.


1) Expect lots of late nights and hard work

Having a newborn means getting little to no sleep and working around the clock to make sure their needs are met. Both babies and start ups are completely dependent. If the parent doesn’t change the diapers and feed the baby, that does not get done just as if a founder isn’t working day and night to get their start up off the ground, no one else will. Parents and founders need to buckle up and be all in.


2) A strong commitment is needed to reach their potential

Good founders and parents both have a strong commitment to help their little startup(s) reach their potential. They put the needs of their little startup or child above their own so that they can grow. However, the commitment for a startup can be full of pivots, or even closing down one startup to focus on another – parenthood is a full commitment for life.


3) Both take on the culture of the creators (founders or parents)

They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Whether you’re talking about a startup, or new little babies, their behaviors as they grow will be greatly influenced by the culture set in place by the parents (or founders). So be intentional about creating the right culture for your startup or kids. Remember if you’re cool, generally speaking your kids will be too.

4) The goal is to raise an outstanding adult / mature company

Any parent or co-founder has the goal of ensuring that their little one can not only survive, but thrive in their environment. You want to raise a startup, or child that can become an outstanding adult or mature company. One that is self sufficient,  and can provide for their family.


5) They don’t care about your agenda

Startups need what they need when they need it. Just like babies. A baby doesn’t care if you are sick, or have a proposal to write, if you haven’t showered in 3 days, or are hungry. They care about their needs being met. The same is true with startups. Constant attention is required and there are no days off. If you do take time off, you better make sure you have someone watching that you trust. Your startup is either growing or declining – our job as parents of children and startups are to ensure our little ones have what they need to grow…all the time.


6) Don’t go at it alone – build a team

Raising a child, and starting a business is hard work. Thankfully you don’t have to go at it alone. Work to develop or leverage a support system or team to help you. Find good service providers, or managers to oversee your startup. Find family members or babysitters that you trust to watch your kids. The key is to delegate to people you trust that are capable. Be willing to ask your network for help and accept it when offered. I’m sure you heard the phrase “It takes a Village”, this is true for both startups and raising children.


7) Be on the same page with your partner

In business it is important that you have a vision that is clearly articulated and adopted by your team and partners. Abraham Lincoln once said a house divided cannot stand. When you have two forces pulling in different directions, for example founders with different agendas or goals, the startup suffers. The same is true in parenting. Ensure that you and your partner communicate, resolve differences of opinion and are on the same page – both working for the common good of your child(ren). Start this process before you even bring your startup, or children into existence.


8) Nobody will love your children or start up like you

The moment we laid eyes on our little miracles, something within us changed. We felt a love like no other. No one is going to care about our kids the way that parents and often grandparents do. The same is true with our startups. The founders have to be the example for working hard on the start up. As founders, we have to realize that our “employees” are not going to love our business like we do and it is our job to inspire them to work hard. Our love for our children is very personal and Entrepreneurship is very personal as well.


9) Don’t be defeated

Sometimes you can try your best and things still don’t work out as you’d like. It’s important to realize that both startup and parent life will not always go your way and you will likely get frustrated. It’s important through all the setbacks that you are able to pick yourself up, stay encouraged and move on with the same optimism and hope as when you started.


10) You need to learn & adapt as you go

Both new parents and new founders don’t have all the answers when they start on their journey. There is no “instruction manual”.   It is important to learn quickly and be able to adapt as you move along. For your business, incorporate new concepts, tips and tricks you learn from other founders. For parents, follow your doctors orders and seek advice from fellow parents. In both instances,  see what works for you and ditch what doesn’t.


11) Be ready for big financial investments

Babies gotta eat, and if you want them to grow properly they need to obtain all of their proper nutrients. They also regularly outgrow their clothes, may need medicine, fresh new toys and much more. That’s before we even think about college funds, or cars down the line. All of this costs money. Startups also have many requirements for growth, and someone has to pay the bills! It often falls on the parents or founders. Finding the right talent, or specialists to help you with your startup, or work with your child can be expensive, but can provide a great return on investment!!!


12) You need a strong foundation – Take time for your self

They often say on airplanes that “In the case of an emergency, parents should put their masks on first before doing so for their child.” This is because if the parent isn’t able to breathe, they won’t be very effective while helping their kids. The same is true in the world of startups. Often times both founders and parents are in a Go, Go, Go mode. If the health of a founder or parent declines and they get knocked off their feet, the child or startup will also suffer. As a parent of a child or founder of a startup, be sure that you do set aside time for you. Seek to maintain your mental and physical health. This could involve reading a book, going to the beach, having a nice dinner with your significant other, going to the gym or setting aside some time weekly to do something you love. For my wife that is spending time with our horses. For me, it’s going to the gym or on hikes.


13) Always measure key indicators for growth

Both children and new businesses should be measured to see how they are performing. Are they keeping up with their peers, or lagging behind. There are many different indicators that can be measured. For children, some include: Height, weight, milestones (like rolling over, crawling, walking, talking, solid foods, being potty trained, etc). For startups, some include: sales, profitability, customer growth, acquisition costs, employee growth, and much more. By measuring various indicators founders and parents can become aware of trends and potential risks, equipped with this information they can seek to address potential problems to ensure the startup or child continues to grow properly.

Here is our kiddos at their six month mark. Healthy, growing well and a long way from their 2 lb 10 oz days.

14) It gets easier then harder again – there are cycles

Sometimes things just click and go smoothly. It’s great when they do. But the ups don’t last forever, sooner or later you’ll have a dip. Your child or startup will misbehave and you’ll experience challenges. Then before you know it you’re back to smooth sailing again and amazed by the progress.


 15) Nurture unique gifts & talents

There are lots of children and businesses born every day. Not to mention the substantial amount of them that already exist. This being the case it is important to stand out. As a parent this involves recognizing your child’s unique gifts and talents that they may not even see in themselves. Nurture these abilities and help develop them. By doing so they can differentiate and find their space in a crowded world.  The same goes for startups. Nobody wants to be a commodity that has no differentiation or competitive advantage. Find what makes your startup or child special and focus on that.


16) Advice – take it or leave it. Everybody has an opinion.

Everywhere you turn someone will have an opinion on how to raise your child. “You should do this, you shouldn’t do that”. I find this to be very similar to entrepreneurship. Even those that have never ran a business will have an opinion. Advice from people who can totally relate to what you are going through as a parent or who understand your business and you trust should always be considered. Remember, as a parent or a founder, the choice is yours! In both cases, you may need to let advice/opinions go in one ear and out the other and that is totally OK!


17) Time will tell what your creations will evolve into

When we look at our children we can’t help but wonder what they will become. Will they be a doctor, or lawyer? A singer, or maybe an athlete? Maybe future entrepreneurs?All we know is that they have potential and we as parents want that potential to be realized. Many founders start a business and end up in a business that is very different than what they initially anticipated. In the movie The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg said (referring to Facebook): “We don’t even know what it is yet, or what it can become. We just know it’s cool!” That’s how parents are. Mark Zuckerberg’s startup worked out very well for him!  We’re excited to see what heights our little startups reach!

This post was a co-written by my wife Lindsay and I. Lindsay Brim is the co-founder of Crossroads Corral, a non-profit 501(c)(3) based in Central Florida that promotes personal growth, hope and healing through the use of horses.

BLOG TALK TV: My Chat on Business Blogging, My book and more

Contributor: David Brim March 21, 2015

I recently had the pleasure of being a guest on Blog Talk TV, a television show airing to 1.5 million households weekly in Virginia and Florida. I sat down with the hosts of the show Bess Auer and Ben Reed to discuss business blogging, my blogging journey and book Land More Customers through Online Marketing.

David Brim Blog Talk TV

You can learn more about the show by visiting BLOG TALK TV Online. I’ve also added the full show below in case you wanted to check it out.

Bootstrapping to over $1 Million in Sales: Happy 5 Year Birthday Brand Advance

Contributor: David Brim September 6, 2014

Today five years ago I decided to start Brand Advance. At the time I had a tech start-up with two other founders and we ran into some challenges raising capital. Investors in the Orlando area, like many other places around the country, were deploying their capital in real estate and buying up everything they could after the economic crash.

Looking back on the situation – I can’t blame them.

Real estate purchased at the bottom of the market at 2009 and 2010 has seen substantial appreciation and they are likely cash-flowing like crazy, or have sold for a significant return. Nevertheless….this left three starving recent college grad entrepreneurs up the creek without a paddle. The enticing real estate market and lack of savvy tech investors in Orlando meant that “higher risk” tech investments like our venture GroupTable, a collaboration software with thousands of users seen here on Mashable, had officially ran out of money. Very much an “Oh Shit moment”.

Then something dawned on me. We don’t need money. We need designers, developers and marketers. I thought to myself that with my background in marketing if I were to create a marketing agency that resources would exist to work on client ventures and my own.Brand Advance logo

On 9/6/2009 I created and registered the company Brand Advance with the State of Florida.

You may be thinking to yourself…How could he start another company with hardly any money and expect to have a team able to do work for others and his start-up?

The model was simple and effective. Utilize contractors / freelancers that I had experience with and trusted to do client work and manage the projects internally. As we gain more profit margin bring more work in house and use extra available time to work on internal ventures. The first full year in business Brand Advance did over $220k in sales and by the end of 2010 we had four people working in our office. Again, this was with no loans or investors.

Over the last five years I have learned many lessons by running my own business and working with other entrepreneurs through the process.

Lessons Learned from Growing and Managing Brand Advance

The Work & Clients

  • Produce work that you are proud to put your name on.
  • Set realistic expectations in the client’s mind and work to exceed them.
  • Be honest with clients about their current situation, goals and what it takes to get there.
  • Become a trusted adviser for clients and inform them about what they need even if: they ask for something else, you don’t offer what they need, it may not be pleasant for them to hear, it may mean less revenue for your company.
  • There is such a thing as a bad client. Cut them quickly and as painlessly as possible.
  • Don’t sacrifice your quality of work and reputation for a client’s budget
  • It can be hard to save a sinking ship – don’t take it personally when clients fail because of circumstances outside of your control.
  • Developing long and meaningful relationships with clients is better than one time projects.
  • Develop incentives for clients to do business with you on an on-going basis
  • Ensure that your team and the clients clearly understand the scope of projects
  • Quantitatively measure results and share them with your clients. Numbers don’t lie. (Below is a snapshot of website analytics from one year 2012-13 compared to the next 2013-14 from our SEO work and website improvements of apartmentsUCF )SEO results

New Business & Sales

  • Your happy customers are often the best source of new business
  • Responding to RFPs suck, but landing the right one can produce a lot of value and open doors
  • I’d rather have another expert on the team than a sales person any day. Education produces better results than sales.
  • Speaking at the right venues and sharing your expertise on topics is a great way to gain new business
  • sharing your insights on topics via a blog or social media is a great way to gain awareness and land more customers
  • Scheduling free consultations with prospects to share your insights can be a great way to open new relationships
  • News coverage and press helps
  • Working closer with existing clients can be a more mutually beneficial way to grow revenue than being distracted by pitching new business all the time.
  • Pitching the right prospects (developing creative material to work them) can be an investment, but can pay off.

Employees, Culture and Collaboration

  • Having a bigger team is not always better from a business standpoint
  • Building and maintaining your company culture is important and not a passive activity
  • Hire people more talented than you who care about their work and the clients
  • If you have confidence in your employees don’t over manage them. Let them do their job, give them what they need to be successful, provide insight as needed and let them rock out!
  • If you have the right employees, care about them and treat them right they will treat clients right.
  • Having in-house employees makes projects go much more smoothly than virtual employees or using freelancers.
  • Equipping employees with the tools and environment they need to be successful is important
  • Having differences of opinions and creative conflict can often lead to a better overall outcome
  • Having people who see the world differently work together can be challenging at times. Know your team and don’t take their style of communication, passion, or frustration personally.
  • Celebrate successes internally and with clients. (Below is a recent pic of the Brand Advance team and Bruce Wang of MICROJIG to celebrate the growth of his company and the wonderful work we have done together)
Celebration with Bruce Wang of MICROJIG

Celebration with Bruce Wang of MICROJIG

Growing Pains, Financials and Team Capacity 

  • Keeping a close eye on your cash-flow statement is important. Cashflow is king and should be a major factor in decision making.
  • Growing pains means your growing. (Know if you are you having growing pains, or just pains)
  • Service companies are more challenging to scale than product companies
  • As a service company you must be sure to quantitatively measure and monitor the capacity of their team.
  • Developing internal revenue producing ventures enables you to be more selective about the clients you want to work with and how much you charge.
  • Having a supportive wife who “Gets it” is extremely helpful. Shout out to Lindsay Brim! Love you babe 🙂
  • You can indeed grow a company to over a million dollars in sales with no loans or investment

I hope that you enjoyed this post!

It has been a great five years for Brand Advance and I look forward to many more years to come. I am blessed to do what I love everyday and work with such a wonderful and talented team. I invite you to visit our company website to learn more about Brand Advance and see our work.


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