Tampa is working towards becoming the next entrepreneurial hub on the East Coast. We have endless talent in this city, a healthy growing startup ecosystem, and plenty of talent moving to Tampa from all around the country. Tampa Bay offers a world-class airport, access to a seasoned pool of talent, local investment dollars and greater exposure for the companies.
Here at the Wave, 7 of our client companies relocated from Gainesville to Tampa. We spotted this noticeable trend and were keen to get a better understanding as to what were the push factors for the relocation. Global Safety Management (GSM), WashLava, Knack, TAO Connect, Peerfit, VidPic AR and Harness made the move to Tampa and here is what they had to say:
GROW company, Global Safety Management moved to Tampa in 2015 and joined the accelerator shortly after being introduced to the Wave. They now enjoy the unlimited access to mentors, connections with thought leaders, industry experts and other companies in a similar stage of growth. Global Safety Management (GSM) strives to change the way companies handle chemical and product safety information. Their patent-pending software enables companies to author, translate and manage SDS at a fraction of the time and cost of other systems.
WashLava and Knack moved to Tampa in 2016 to be closer to home. Founder of WashLava, Todd Belveal made the move back to Tampa after successfully launching the mobile-enabled car rental company, Silvercar that is now being acquired by Audi. WashLava’s Marketing Director, Jamie Sewell too, is a Tampa native, so it seemed like the right place to grow the company. The company’s COO, Bill Barbino was highly involved with 1871 in Chicago, so it was essential to him that their company be part of a startup community, and they have since benefitted greatly from the connections and support from the Wave.
Founder of Knack, Samyr Qureshi attended college at the University of Florida but is originally a Tampa native. The company was born out of the University of Florida’s business incubator, the Gator Hatchery. Due to the dense college population, Gainesville served as an ideal beta market to test their product, a peer-to-peer tutoring app. During that time, the team had some wins including winning 1st Place at UF’s Big Idea Business Plan Competition, and was awarded $25K cash prize, and placing 3rd in the GAIN Shootout Pitch Competition. Today, Knack still holds an office in Gainesville and services the UF student body, the birthplace of their venture.
VidPic AR is a mobile augmented reality app that brings any print image to life and opens new opportunities for business marketing and promotions. When a print image is viewed through a smartphone or tablet, the print image becomes a video screen and plays digital video content. VidPic was introduced to the Wave by one of their advisory board members, a co-founder of the successful Tampa-based startup, Wufoo. He encouraged the company to reach out to the entrepreneurial community for guidance and support. Since joining, they have unlocked a broad base of mentors that has guided them through various stages of building, launching and growing a company. Founder Ron Rudderman says the culture of innovation in Tampa has been tremendous. Business leaders support the startup community with action in a way that demonstrates a genuine commitment to helping their company fulfill their vision.
Florida Blue’s healthcare innovation partner, Healthbox referred TAO Connect and Peerfit to the WaVE in 2016 and 2017 respectively. These two healthcare tech companies have found their time spent at the WaVE to be extremely valuable for their young company. TAO Connect is committed to reducing mental health disparities by bringing affordable, effective, and accessible treatment to people who have had limited access in the past.
Peerfit founder Dr. Ed Buckley created this platform to make it easy for companies, employees and local fitness studios to share amazing fitness experiences. Their purpose is to drive engagement and habit-building to improve the health of the company’s culture, teamwork, and the organization.
Harness was officially founded in August 2015 amongst three fraternity brothers, Miraj, Andrew and Matthew. These three entrepreneurs have been unofficially working together since 2010 and have always been exchanging different business concepts and models. They decided shortly before graduating that they were going to work on Harness together. After graduation, they picked Tampa to build their startup because the city had the best combination of proximity to Gainesville and also a big enough city to grow the company and themselves as entrepreneurs.