A year after first assessing Tampa Bay startup scene, a call to nurture more veteran dealmakers


TAMPA — A year ago, an academic team of business experts announced they would put a "Fitbit" on Tampa Bay to help measure how its start-up scene or "entrepreneurial ecosystem" was doing and where it needed help. Two areas of concern were cited: the lack of connectivity across the Tampa Bay startup community and lean capital resources.

That report also recommended steps to improve leadership, collaboration, investor education and even a stronger marketing brand for the Tampa Bay region.

On Wednesday evening the same team, led by University of Tampa professor of entrepreneurship Rebecca White, offered their first 12-month check-up. Their findings: The ecosystem is gaining strength but needs deeper bench strength and, specifically greater access by entrepreneurs to veteran "dealmakers" with past experience as founders or investors (preferably both) in multiple startups.

LAST YEAR’S COVERAGE: Tampa Bay’s entrepreneurial ecosystem? It’s still young and could use a boost, new study says.

The University of Tampa team found Tampa Bay has a modest core of such dealmakers, described as those involved in three or more experiences as an entrepreneur or investor.

But there are many more "nascent" dealmakers in the metro area who may have the potential to bump up to dealmaker status. Think of it as a lot of talented minor leaguers, some of whom will make it to the major leagues.

"We have strong opportunity to institute efforts to connect the dealmakers in information technology, health care, consumer discretionary and telecommunications areas as a means of improving opportunity for entrepreneurial success in the region and attracting new talent," Wednesday’s report stated.

Among other recommendations to help area startups:

• Pursue a "technology solution" to enhance connectivity and communication between startups and the dealmaker community here.

• Find "lone wolf" investors and entrepreneurs and tie them into the ecosystem using strategic partnering, collaborative and mentor relationships.

• Identify those nascent dealmakers and see if the current ecosystem can help them move to dealmaker status.

Contact Robert Trigaux at [email protected] Follow @venturetampabay.