Tampa Bay Startup Week: Startups to Pay Attention to
Tampa Bay startups are well represented at Chase basecamp in downtown Tampa’s District 3 event space. It’s day three of Tampa Bay Startup Week, and energy is still high from the ‘halfway to Social Media Day’ celebration at a lively sports bar on night two.
Standout Startups at Startup Week Tampa Bay
CitySleekers, a mobile, waterless car wash service that was developed by students at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. The one-man startup touts an eco-friendly formula. Founder and CEO Nick Price makes mobility an advantage by offering cleaning and detailing services outside of malls, golf clubs, and private homes.
eSmart Recycling takes old phones, computers, printers, and other clunky hardware off your hands by recycling end of life electronics. Better yet, part of their guarantee is to destroy all data. Finally, the materials are scraped and recycled, to be reused. The business – previously called “Scrap on Spot” – received a boost in Jan. 2015 when founder Tony Selvaggio won $10,000 from Hillsborough County’s first Business Pitch Competition. Since then, drop-off bins have been expanded to schools and small businesses around the community.
Tembo Education, a recent finalist in the Hult Prize competition, was developed on the University of Tampa campus by a team of students and recent grads. The team’s product is an SMS text messaging system that allows mothers in urban slums to educate their children through standardized lesson plans. Many of these parents do have access to phones – founder Phil Michaels spent months on the ground in Africa and saw them firsthand. Tembo incentivizes education by offering free airtime to parents who complete the lessons.
The company works from the John P. Lowth Entrepreneurship Center on the UT campus, along with other student startups and local small businesses. In January 2016, the five-member team earned a place on the Forbes 30 Under 30 – Social Entrepreneurs list.
Startup Success Boosted by Local Support
A common thread in the success of Tampa Bay startups is time spent in the FirstWaVe program at Tampa Bay WaVe, an accelerator and incubator that exists to launch and grow Tampa Bay startups. Software company KiteDesk, motorized skateboard Marbel, crowd-sourced digital storytelling platform WeVue, parenting mobile application Mama Bear, and web-based business card app SavvyCard each spent time coworking in the non-profit’s Venture Center or participating in the FirstWaVe accelerator program and are now seeing successful growth.
CareSync, a startup formed in the suburban sprawl north of Tampa, secured $18 million in VC funding in 2015. The startup was also a finalist in the SXSW 2014 Interactive Awards.
Tampa Bay Startups Aim High at Startup Week Tampa Bay
Local Tampa Bay startups continue to form and grow, thanks largely to the entrepreneurial ecosystem that is strengthening the region’s focus on tech and entrepreneurship.
Today, some of the 20 Tampa Bay startups competing in the mid-week marquee event, the 1776 Challenge Cup, are fresh to the local tech scene; others have earned recognition in county or corporate startup competitions.
Startup Week Tampa Bay lead organizer Gracie Stemmer calls the mid-week 1776 Challenge Cup the “can’t miss event of the week.” The startup pitch competition is a local round of the global challenge hosted by seed fund and incubator 1776.
Twenty Tampa Bay startups each get a few minutes on stage before a judge’s panel made up of successful Tampa Bay startup founders and serial entrepreneurs. Three of those Tampa Bay startups will go on to New York City to compete in a regional round of the challenge; a global winner will be determined in June 2016.
This article is part of a Startup Week content series brought to you by Chase for Business. Startup Week is celebration of entrepreneurs in cities around the globe. Chase for Business is everything a business needs in one place, from expert advice to valuable products and services. Follow the Startup Week action here as we head to 7 cities in the coming months.