This year has been anything but typical for the Tampa Bay startup ecosystem.
There has been a mass amount of exits. There have been larger funding rounds than ever before, garnering larger institutional firms. We've seen more partnerships secured with national giants across an array of industries.
We wanted our annual Fire awards — previously known as the Inno on Fire awards — to reflect the current times we're living in.
In the past, Tampa Bay Inno has honored 50 companies setting the ecosystem ablaze in a number of categories, including edtech, startup supporters and cybersecurity.
For 2021, we wanted to keep our List as fresh as the ecosystem it honors. We've chosen the companies that have been involved in the most momentous deals of the year, as well as some companies that have truly flexed their innovation muscles in the last 12 months.
On Nov. 16, we'll be honoring these innovators at our Fire awards and announcing our "Blazer" winners. Those are standouts chosen by a panel of esteemed community judges picking one innovator from each category that is blazing the way. The event will be held at the newly completed rooftop at the Florida Aquarium and you won't want to miss it. RSVP here.
And now, here are your 2021 Fire honorees.
- Presence. The St. Pete edtech startup was acquired in June by Canadian company Modern Campus. Under the acquisition, Presence will work with Modern Campus' 1,400 universities and college partners.
- Script. Tampa-based edtech startup Script, which has been a two-time Blazer winner, was acquired in April by North Carolina-based EMS LINQ Inc.
- Synzi. The St. Pete telehealth company was acquired in May in a $42 million all-cash deal by San Diego-based AMN Healthcare.
- Ensurem. The Clearwater-based insurance brokerage firm was acquired by 777 Partners, a Miami-based private investment firm, in March.
- Perform[cb]. Sarasota-based Perform[cb], formerly known as Clickbooth, was acquired by Canadian private equity firm Beringer Capital in May.
- Edgility. The Tampa-based healthtech company partnered with the University of South Florida's College of Nursing and College of Engineering this year in an effort to boost high-quality talent in the region.
- SiteZeus. The Tampa-based tech company most recently partnered with Tijuana Flats, adding on to its deals with Subway, Burger King, Pollo Tropical and more.
- Teamwork Commerce. The Clearwater-based retail technology company announced its partnership with Apple in April through its Mobility Partner program.
- Chattr. The Tampa-based artificial intelligence-powered software partnered with more than 500 Bealls' stores throughout the U.S.
- Soma Global. The cloud-based system that helps first responders store information all on one platform raised a $22.5 million Series A in January.
- Red Rover. The company, which was created by PODS co-founder Peter Warhurst, raised $13.6 million in January.
- Aspen RxHealth. The Tampa telehealth company raised $23 million in its Series B in January.
- MiQroTech. The Tampa startup that uses technology to predict oil spills raised more than $10 million in its Series A round it closed in June.
- Cirkul. The innovative water bottle company that went viral on TikTok closed a $30 million Series B in August.
Tampa Bay transplants
- John Sung Kim. Kim was a founding partner of San Francisco-based Five9, which was acquired by Zoom in a reported $14.9 billion deal. He recently landed in Tampa with the lofty goal to bring a local company public in the next decade.
- Procoto. The company's co-founders Ryan Muckel and Michael Otis moved from England and Atlanta, respectively, to set up their company's new HQ in St. Petersburg. The company was part of the prestigious Silicon Valley-based Y Combinator accelerator program and was recently tapped to pitch at Venture Atlanta.
- TrustLayer. Founder John Fohr moved from Silicon Valley to Tampa and quickly caught the attention of investors. He raised $6.6 million in February and another $15.1 million in August. Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik participated in both rounds.
- OPSWAT. The former San Francisco-based cybersecurity company announced the creation of its "Eastern" headquarters in Tampa in January. It raised a $125 million in March, and with a rising number of acquisitions, is eyeing an IPO in the next two years.
- PROVEN. The St. Pete-based company, which is a subset of NAHA Health, launched in May and offers a digital vaccine passport platform. It partnered with Visit Mexico and plans to expand to two more countries in the coming months.
- Squaremouth. The St. Pete travel insurance technology company recently scrapped its former dreams of a Silicon Valley-esque headquarters and will be in-person optional. It's been ahead of the curve, long ago offering unlimited paid time off and a flexible seating chart.
- Quiet Professionals. The Tampa defense contractor launched a high-tech tracker to help rescue refugees looking to leave Afghanistan.
- Chris Krimitsos and Gabe Higgins. The two Tampa entrepreneurs launched the state's first ever Florida Blockchain and Bitcoin Summit to further bolster the state's rising star in the blockchain world.
- ProCredEx. The Tampa-based tech startup looking to streamline the credential process raised a $4.6 million seed round in July, led by industry giants Spectrum Health Ventures, based in Michigan, and Nashville-based Martin Ventures.
- Trustate. The company, which launched in the summer of 2020 in Tampa, was accepted to the prestigious Chicago-based 1871 accelerator in June.
- Pocket Network. The blockchain platform raised $9.3 million six months after launching due to selling investors its crypto token versus company equity.
- BlockSpaces. The blockchain-focused tech company closed a $1.2 million seed round in March, and in April, teamed up with USF to address food insecurity.
- XGen. The Tampa startup, which uses artificial intelligence to help e-commerce companies, raised a $7.5 million seed round in March and grew 400% in its first quarter.
- Qure4U. The Bradenton-based virtual care company raised a $25 million Series B round in July and saw more than double the growth in the last year.
- Panther. The Tampa startup offering a way to simplify international remote hiring closed two funding rounds in six months, with participation from Silicon Valley executives that work at Shutterstock, Instacart and more.
- Qgiv. In June, the Lakeland-based, nonprofit-focused technology company hit a new milestone and helped its clients clients collectively raise over $2 billion.