The hype around South Florida as an up-and-coming startup hub isn’t just hype. Seed- and early-stage investment to Sunshine State founders really is up several-fold year over year. And Miami companies are leading the gains.So far this year, Florida companies have raised just over $1 billion in early-stage funding, per Crunchbase data. That’s nearly quadruple the sum raised in all of 2020, and comes as other investment stages are also posting gains.
What’s driving the momentum? There is certainly a buzz factor. Among tech influencers on Twitter, posts singing the praises of Miami became a thing last winter. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez capitalized on the moment with a social media campaign to attract startup talent to the city.
But just as you can’t start a fire without a spark, you can’t build a startup hot spot without some elements already in place. Although the spotlight cast on South Florida intensified in recent months, founders, investors and universities in the region have actually been engaged in a years-long process to build up startup momentum, said Kevin Burgoyne, president and CEO of the Florida Venture Forum. Now, much of that effort is coming to fruition.
“It’s a perfect storm of positive indicators that bode really well for the future,” he said, noting that years ago prominent venture firms might have an occasional portfolio company in the state. These days, there’s a sense among the most active startup investors that “now you have to cover Florida.”
With two months left in the year, 2021 is already leaving 2020 in the dust with more than $1 billion in early-stage startup funding invested in Florida. While that’s dispersed statewide, most of the largest rounds are to companies in the Miami area, including:
Elemy, the Miami-based provider of a platform for home-based therapy for autistic children, raised $215 million in a Series B round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. In March, the company raised a $94 million Series A.
PayCargo, a Coral Gables-based provider of a logistics payment platform for cargo, raised $125 million in a summer Series B backed by Insight Partners.
Recur, a Miami-based NFT startup, picked up $50 million in a September Series A.
Seed funding data should be analyzed with some caveats. In particular, many seed financings don’t enter the database until weeks or months after they close. That means Florida angel investment is probably a lot higher in recent months than the reported totals indicate.