The Tampa Bay metro has climbed the charts in terms of recruiting the most tech talent and gaining venture capital investments, which has attracted more startups to establish a local presence.
Since late last year, many early-stage companies have flocked to co-working hubs while others claimed corporate office spaces in high-rise towers in downtown St. Petersburg and Tampa.
Organizations and incubator groups such as Tampa Bay Wave and Embarc Collective largely contribute to the hotbed of activity in supporting startups through pitch competitions, cohorts and networking events.
The local economic development corporations also play a critical role as their staff helps entrepreneurs access resources for hiring local talent and incentive programs they can tap into.
Companies that relocated to St. Pete (from late 2022 to today):
- PodRoll. Co-founder and COO Ken Beyer relocated from Oklahoma City to St. Pete, but he was previously considering moving his startup to Austin, New York or Denver – all cities he has lived in. PodRoll uses transcription and contextual matching with an artificial intelligence engine to drive listeners to their next relevant podcast in all podcast applications, including Spotify and Apple. “St. Pete is the perfect place to deal with the highs and lows of startup life. It’s very easy to stay focused here and find a group of like-minded people who want to help each other grow. Within months I was added to a Slack channel of entrepreneurs who share materials and advice as we all built our companies from scratch,” Beyer shared in a statement with the Greater St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corp.
- Haddy is a new company founded by longtime innovators Jay Rogers and Kyle Rowe that 3D prints modern furniture from recycled materials. Rogers has secured a long-term lease for a 20,000-plus-square-foot warehouse near the Morean Arts Center and Brick Street Farms. Rogers explained this 3D furniture-printing concept could be based in any booming metropolis, especially tech hubs found in Boston or California, but he was determined to establish it in Florida, where he grew up.
- Renalytix, a publicly-traded company using artificial intelligence to find clinical diagnostic solutions for kidney disease, has opened a laboratory and office in St. Petersburg. Tom McLain, president of New York-based Renalytix, was previously the CEO of local biotech company Claro Scientific.
- WeBull, a New York-based online trading platform purchased Catalina’s 157,755-square-foot Carillon building. Webull wanted to attract new employees in an in-person environment outside its New York headquarters and was considering additional office space in Austin, Atlanta and North Carolina. However, Shen Lu, Webull’s COO, said the firm was looking at St. Pete because of Florida’s business-friendly climate.
- Relic Tickets, which has built a smart ticket system on the blockchain for event venues, relocated to the city. CEO Hunter Abramson said he was initially “completely sold” on either growing the company in Lakeland’s Catapult co-working space or moving the HQ to Miami or Austin, Texas – two well-known startup hubs. Abramson selected St. Pete, citing attributes such as its robust and diverse talent pipeline, quality of life, walkability, weather, business benefits and proximity to Tampa International Airport.
- Bedrock, formerly known as XPRO, is a cloud-based supplier enablement solution company that relocated from Tampa to St. Petersburg. Last year, the company had a $40 million-plus valuation.
- Phospholutions, a sustainable fertilizer startup founded in State College, Pennsylvania, opened an office in downtown St. Pete. The company is focused on developing technologies to enhance efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of phosphorus. Agriculture businesses are predominantly in areas such as Raleigh, St. Louis, Minneapolis and Denver, but the startup’s execs saw an opportunity in the Sunshine City. “Although St. Pete isn’t a major agriculture hub, it is where domestic phosphate production is happening and it positions us for growth,” CEO Hunter Swisher previously told the St. Pete Catalyst regarding the move. “Red tide and green tide [major environmental issue in Tampa Bay] are usually directly associated with nutrient pollution, of which phosphate has been the largest contributor.”
- Engineered Fluids, which specializes in creating cooling fluid systems for customers ranging from crypto-currency miners to electric vehicle manufacturers, uprooted its San Francisco headquarters to St. Petersburg. Engineered Fluids’ 18,000-square-foot industrial St. Pete facility includes its engineering and research and development lab. Meanwhile, the company is continuing to manufacture its proprietary dielectric cooling fluids at its chemical manufacturing facility in Tyler, Texas.
- Enovate Learning LLC, a startup that creates e-learning courses for businesses, relocated from Marietta, Georgia to St. Petersburg. The company creates self-paced eLearning courses, scenario-based courses, software simulations, games, animated videos and assessments. The startup uses platforms such as Adobe Captivate and Articulate Storyline 360, according to its website.
The latest companies to relocate or open an HQ in Tampa:
- WellnessLiving, a Toronto-based software company focused on the health and wellness industry, expanded to Tampa with a regional headquarters in the Westshore District. The company is leasing 4,000 square feet at Corporate Center II, 4211 W. Boy Scout Blvd.
- Cansortium Inc., a cannabis company doing business under the Fluent brand name, moved its headquarters from Miami to the Westshore District of Tampa.
- Vivenu, a global ticketing tech company, opened its U.S. headquarters at WeWork Place in downtown Tampa.
- Autoslide, a manufacturer of automatic doors based in Australia, relocated its HQ operations from Glendale, California to Tampa.
- Merit Logistics, a national third-party logistics provider, relocated its corporate headquarters from San Juan Capistrano, California to Tampa.
This story contains information from the Greater St. Petersburg Area EDC and the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council.