Seventeen companies in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area drew venture capital backing in 2018, according to the new PricewaterhouseCoopers/CB Insights MoneyTree report.
The single largest local deal in the fourth quarter of the year was for Aspen RxHealth, a Tampa company with an app-based intervention technology that connects pharmacists with patients to deliver clinical services. Aspen raised $9 million from Flare Capital Partners in a Series A round of funding in December.
Knack, an educational technology firm in Tampa that connects college students with tutors, raised $1.6 million for the three months ended Dec. 31. Most of that was in a seed round backed by Charles Hudson’s Precursor Ventures and Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lighting owner and Fenway Sports Group Partner.
MoneyTree is one of two quarterly reports that track investments in startups, companies that hold promise for creating high-skill, high-wage jobs that can transform the economy. MoneyTree counts only actual dollars invested in a quarter, while the Pitchbook-NVCA Venture Monitor tags a broader array of deals.
“2018 was a phenomenal year for U.S. venture capital, with $99.5 billion invested,” said Tom Ciccolella, partner and U.S. venture leader at PwC.
While the dollar amount of investment nationally was the highest since 2000, the number of deals fell to its lowest level since 2013, the MoneyTree report said. That’s because of a growing number of mega-deals raising $100 million or more.
In Florida last year, deal volume dropped slightly. There were 101 deals, compared to 103 deals in 2017.
Deal value declined significantly to $992.5 million in 2018, from $2.2 billion in 2017. Venture capital investment in Florida has trended up since the recession of 2008 but has yet to hit the high marks set in 2000, before the dot-com bubble burst, MoneyTree statistics show.
Between 2014 and 2018, 459 Florida companies have raised $6.3 billion in venture backing.
Over the past five years, 68 companies in the Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater metro raised $560.7 million, according to MoneyTree.
In 2018, there were a total of 13 deals in Tampa, three deals in St. Petersburg and one in Clearwater.
The biggest local capital raise of 2018 was a $60 million growth equity investment in June in FairWarning, a Clearwater cybersecurity company with software designed to catch people stealing data. The investment came from Mainsail Partners in San Francisco.
Some of the other major 2018 deals previously identified by MoneyTree include:
- Benebay, a Tampa company that provides self-funded insurance for small businesses, $380,000
- Marxent Labs, a St. Petersburg virtual reality and augmented reality company that raised $2.07 million
- CoLabs Holdings, a Tampa computer hardware and services company, $4 million
- Peerfit, a digital health company in Tampa, $8 million
- Homee, a Tampa internet company, $11 million
- Avalon Healthcare Solutions, a healthcare technology company in Tampa, $16.5 million
- A-LIGN, a security and compliance solutions provider in Tampa, $54.5 million
Metrc, a Lakeland company that develops supply chain driven track-and-trace systems, built as a solution for government agencies regulating legalized marijuana, led all Florida companies in receiving venture funding in Q4 2018. Metrc got $50 million from Casa Verde Capital and Tiger Global Management.