Built for Founders, Fueled By Community
As we close another impactful year, I extend my deepest gratitude to everyone in our Tampa Bay Wave community. Your ongoing support and engagement have been pivotal in empowering tech startup founders amidst their journey of building and scaling innovative solutions. This collective effort not only advances the ventures of individual entrepreneurs but also significantly bolsters our local economy, fostering job creation, economic expansion, and solidifying Tampa Bay’s reputation as a premier tech hub.
Together, we’ve created an environment where founders flourish without the pressure of equity loss, thanks to our Community-Fueled Accelerator. Your commitment to fostering a dynamic, inclusive tech ecosystem in Tampa Bay and beyond has had a profound effect, both on the success of entrepreneurs and on the vibrancy and growth of our community.
2023 has been a year of significant milestones and expansion for Tampa Bay Wave. As we celebrated our ten-year anniversary, we also proudly opened a new venture center in Tampa and an extension office at Thrive DTSP in St. Petersburg. These new facilities symbolize our commitment to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, offering vibrant spaces for collaboration and growth.
The Impact Numbers Say It All
Reflecting on a decade of progress, it’s remarkable to note that since our inception, startups in our accelerator programs have raised a staggering $850 million, demonstrating the vast potential and impact of the businesses we support. Additionally, these startups have created over 5,000 jobs, in part, contributing to the economic vitality of our own region. In total, we have supported more than 500 startups, each being an integral part of a diverse and thriving tech ecosystem.
Accelerator Cohort Growth and Funding
In this year alone, Tampa Bay Wave has seen dynamic growth. Thanks, in part, to federal grants from the U.S. EDA, U.S. SBA, support from our Economic Development partners at Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa, and our sponsors and partners, Wave hosted four cohorts in our specialized short-sprint accelerator programs, encompassing CyberTech, TechDiversity, FinTech, and the exciting launch of LatinTech. Through these programs, we have made over 1,000 connections for founders, linking them with essential resources, mentors, investors, and industry leaders. These connections are vital, ensuring our founders receive the support and networking opportunities they need to succeed and grow in today’s competitive market.
Alongside our accelerator cohorts, 2023 has been a remarkable year for community engagement through a series of pivotal events. We proudly hosted the Hall of Fame event, a special occasion to honor and recognize the outstanding fundraising successes of our past cohort members. This event not only celebrated their achievements but also served as an inspiration for the current and future entrepreneurs in our network.
In collaboration with University of South Florida (USF) Health – Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS), we organized the HealthTech Showcase, a platform highlighting the latest innovations in healthcare technology. This showcase brought together entrepreneurs, investors, regional leaders and healthcare professionals, fostering connections and showcasing the cutting-edge advancements emerging from our region.
Moreover, we partnered with USF and Cyber Florida to convene a Tampa Bay Cybersecurity Leadership Roundtable, uniting the region’s top leaders in the cyber technology space. Hosted at SOFWERX in Tampa’s Ybor City district, this event was crucial in discussing strategies for Tampa Bay to continue thriving as a CyberTech hub. It provided an opportunity for thought leadership, collaboration, and setting the direction for future growth in this vital sector.
An Additional Grant for a Seed Fund
In another exciting development this year, Tampa Bay Wave was honored to receive a $400,000 federal grant from the U.S. EDA’s Build-to-Scale program. This substantial grant marks a significant milestone for us, as it will be instrumental in establishing a $10 million seed fund specifically designed to support early-stage growth companies within our accelerator programs.
This fund represents a pivotal step in our ongoing commitment to provide comprehensive support to startups. By offering potential financial investment alongside our existing resources, we are further equipped to fuel the growth and success of these promising companies, reinforcing Tampa Bay’s position as a nurturing ground for innovation and entrepreneurship.
The Future is Bright
As we reflect on the successes of the past year and look ahead to 2024, I must express my profound gratitude to our amazing team, board members, and the myriad of supporters who stand behind our mission. Their unwavering dedication, expertise, and passion have been the cornerstone of Tampa Bay Wave’s achievements.
As we turn our attention to the upcoming year, we are energized and focused on a monumental goal: reaching the $1 billion mark in funds raised by our portfolio of companies. This ambitious objective underscores our commitment to nurturing and scaling innovative startups, and it’s a goal we are confident in achieving through the collective efforts of our vibrant community.
Together, we will continue to drive forward, making Tampa Bay not only a hub for technological advancement but also a beacon of entrepreneurial success.
Thank You and Happy New Year!
Linda Olson, CEO of Tampa Bay Wave