Tampa’s startup community caught the attention of long-time investor Scott Kelly, so much so that he’s decided to relocate his VC firm and business development accelerator Black Dog Venture Partners from Arizona to the city.
Black Dog provides venture capital consulting, corporate finance, and business development services for companies in the B2B, crypto, cybersecurity, and gaming space.
Florida’s overall crypto and blockchain boom had a lot to do with Kelly’s bullish outlook on the state.
The general crypto downturn may have some investors worried about the space. But Kelly told Hypepotamus he sees a lot of similarities between this moment in time and the dot-com era of the late 1990s. From his vantage point, that could mean better days are on the horizon for strong startups.
“Much like the dot-com era, we have historically unrealistic valuations for companies right now,” he told Hypepotamus. “Specifically with cryptocurrency and blockchain…there are a lot of companies running into the space with maybe a good idea, but not a great business. There will eventually be fallout and the solid companies will remain.”
Kelly and Black Dog will host its next in-person pitch competition, VCFastPitch, in October at the University of Tampa. The competition, entering its 10th year, has helped early-stage startups raise over $100 million.
What’s Up In Florida
This influx of investors is looking to capitalize on Florida’s growing tech talent pool. Florida had the largest net increase in new tech businesses established in 202, according to the non-profit trade association compTIA. And Florida also holds three of the top ten cities boasting the largest growth in tech talent since 2019, according to a LinkedIn analysis.
Tampa, ranked ninth on the list, has seen its tech talent pool increase by over 29% over the last three years. The Tampa and St. Petersburg region has become a hub for startup talent, driven particularly by blockchain-related ventures, fintech, and insurtech verticals. Some of the larger investment rounds coming out of the city recently include Slide ($105 million Series A), CrossBorder Solutions ($55 million led by Insight Partners), Cirkul ($70 million Series C), Gale Healthcare ($60 million venture round), and Symphonic Distribution ($37 million Series B).