He writes ‘small checks to big ideas’

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‘Whit’ Whitney helps entrepreneurs build prototypes that can be taken to market

David “Whit” Whitney came to Gainesville to further his career in real estate investment and ended up drawing on his experience in venture capital to get involved in local technology startup companies as mentor and investor.

Through his Energent Ventures company, he has invested in six technology companies that either started or reside in Gainesville and for the past three years has served as the first entrepreneur in residence at the University of Florida College of Engineering, helping students and faculty start companies around their ideas.

Whitney spent 10 years working for Deloitte’s venture capital practice in Silicon Valley, working with companies in technology, software, digital media and online education.

While there, he made connections with investors in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and moved there in May 2008 to invest in real estate and technology, just in time for the global financial crisis to flare up.

“My timing was terrible,” he said.

After nine months, he enrolled in UF’s master’s in real estate program and moved to Gainesville in June 2009.

“I was one of the very few people to move to Florida for a cooler climate,” Whitney said.