A brief history of entrepreneurship in Tampa Bay

LARA CERRI   |   Times (2004)
LARA CERRI | Times (2004)
Published June 17, 2013



What is now the biggest multilingual free-content encyclopedia on the Internet is founded in St. Petersburg by Jimmy Wales, left. Moved to California in 2006 in search of a greater geek culture.


Tampa startup Blue Ocean Software is bought by Intuit for $170 million. In 2005 the same company, renamed Numara Software, is then sold to TA Associates for $200 million. Both sales are among the biggest for a startup company based in the Tampa Bay area.


Tampa Bay Innovation Center

Initially called the STAR Technology Enterprise Center, the Largo business accelerator's early startups included ImagiNail, a company whose machine could print customized designs on fingernails. Now the center is Pinellas County's veteran business incubator.


Tampa Bay WaVE Started as a "by entrepreneur, for entrepreneur" nonprofit, the group wins fierce loyalty in its goals to help startups and promote innovation.


Wufoo Founded in Tampa in 2006, the online maker of forms is acquired by SurveyMonkey, moving Wufoo to its home base in California. The $35 million price tag cements Wufoo's "we made it" reputation as this area's most recent startup that proved its value via a hefty sale.

Gazelle Lab Tampa Bay version of "TechStars" business accelerator runs its first six area startups through 90-day program up to "Demo Day," live pitches at Mahaffey Theater. Program since put on hold.

Startup Weekend Tampa Debuted in July 2011 as a local version of a global grass roots movement of entrepreneurs who gather for a 54-hour "frenzy" of learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. (The latest Startup Weekend Tampa Bay was held in St. Petersburg last weekend.)


Princeton Review The university ranking service names Tampa's University of South Florida graduate interdisciplinary entrepreneurship program and its Center for Entrepreneurship one of the top 25 programs in 2012 in the United States, the latest in a series of annual awards.


USF St. Petersburg College of Business Named "outstanding emerging entrepreneurship program" in the United States by U.S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

FirstWaVE Venture Center opens its doors backed by $1 million federal grant and by Tampa Bay WaVE and USF expertise. Business accelerator housed in Rivergate Tower, or downtown Tampa "Beer Can" building.

St. Petersburg Technology Incubator, backed by $400,000 state grant and expertise of Tampa Bay Innovation Center, is announced. When it opens, it will be housed in downtown St. Petersburg and focus on marine science and health care/medical innovation and startups.