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Jeff Vinik invests $3 million in fast-growing med tech firm

Bridge Connector already had ties to Tampa. Its founder graduated from the University of South Florida.
Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has invested $3 million in Bridge Connector, a Nashville-based medical technology company.
Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has invested $3 million in Bridge Connector, a Nashville-based medical technology company.
Published Dec. 11, 2019
Updated Dec. 11, 2019

TAMPA — Along with owning the Tampa Bay Lightning, Jeff Vinik has invested in health and wellness companies making everything from bio-friendly skin care products to wearable shields that protect first responders from gamma radiation.

His latest is in a company working to make doctors’ offices more efficient.

Vinik invested $3 million of the $5 million recently raised by Bridge Connector, which has grown from zero to 135 employees in less than two years and has offices in South Florida, Nashville and San Francisco.

“The last decade in health care has been marked by an explosion of technological advancements and new medical devices that gather an unprecedented amount of patient health data," Vinik said in a statement released through the company. Trouble is, the larger system "to collect and connect that data has not advanced at the same pace.”

Bridge Connector is designed to fix that, founder and chief executive officer David Wenger said in an interview. It offers medical practices a platform that can bring together data from electronic medical records, customer relationship management systems, practice management records and third-party systems. Bridge Connector has more than 75 customers operating a total of 2,000 facilities.

“We’ve grown very quickly because of the extreme need in the marketplace for the removal of barriers to data transfer in health care,” Wenger said. "Our customers know that they can connect the software that they’ve already bought and make them more useful.”

What makes Bridge Connector different, he said, is that is doesn’t require the user to do any coding to link everything up, kind of like Zapier has done for business web applications.

“Bridge Connector is the first no-code platform for health care integration,” said Wenger, 32, who received a bachelor’s degree in marketing and business administration from the University of South Florida. “Data no longer has to live in silos."

Most of the $25 million that Bridge Connector has raised since being founded in January 2018 has come from in Axioma Ventures, a venture capital company co-founded by former Publix Super Markets chief executive officer Howard M. Jenkins, who joined Bridge Connector as its chief strategy officer and a member of its board. Axioma provided the balance of the company’s latest $5 million investment.

RELATED: Howard and Patricia Jenkins give $10 million gift to University of Tampa

Vinik’s investment “provides a level of credibility to what we’ve built in the company,” Wenger said, and should help Bridge Connector as it lines up what’s known as a Series B round of fundraising, which typically allows young companies to build their reach in the market. That’s expected to take place in the second quarter of 2020.

Vinik’s other investments in health care, wellness and technology include:

Silk Inc., a Boston-based company with a line of skin care products made with non-synthetic chemicals and minimal ingredients.

Delos, which is working at Water Street Tampa, the $3 billion mixed-use development that Vinik has launched with the Bill Gates company Cascade Investment, to create the world’s first city district designed to make those who live and work there more healthy. The effort includes a focus on air filtration, minimal use of materials containing volatile organic chemicals, managing pollution during construction, minimizing noise, adjusting lights from day to night, having plenty of green space and offering healthy eating options.

Peerfit, a digital platform that makes it easy for insurance carriers, brokers and employers to offer boutique fitness classes to their clients and employees.

StemRad, an Israeli company with a Tampa subsidiary. It makes a personal radiation shield to protect troops, first responders and nuclear power plant workers from deadly high-energy gamma radiation released by atomic bombs, nuclear meltdowns or similar catastrophes.

electroCore, a New Jersey company working on a non-invasive, self-administered therapy to relieve migraine and cluster headaches by stimulating the vagus nerve.

Dreamit, a startup accelerator where health care technology is one of three main focuses.

In addition, Vinik is one of the local investors in FBN Partners, which has loaned $15 million to the Times Publishing Co., the publisher of the Tampa Bay Times.

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