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Pair of area companies relish unicorn status

Florida builds on its already-strong showing in the private equity/startup community.

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  • | 10:00 a.m. October 17, 2022
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Tampa-based Cirkul was founded in 2018. (file.)
Tampa-based Cirkul was founded in 2018. (file.)
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The state of startups in Florida, at least in terms of receiving investments and growing in valuation, is red hot. 

That’s a big takeaway from the sixth annual State of Startups in the Southeast report, compiled by private equity firm Panoramic Ventures. The report found that “like prior years, Florida-based startups raised the most amount of capital over the five-and-a-half-year period and 2022 is shaping up to exceed record-setting 2021 numbers.” 

Florida startups overall have received $18.8 billion in private equity investments since 2017, spread over 3,011 deals, the report shows. The state has had 13 significant exits since 2017, the report found, and also currently has 13 unicorns — Silicon Valley lingo for companies with a valuation of at least $1 billion.

The unicorn side includes a pair of Tampa companies. One is Cirkul, which sells reusable water bottles with an adjustable flavor cartridge system. The other is ReliaQuest, a global leader in cybersecurity. Not included on the unicorn list is Clearwater-based KnowBe4, another cybersecurity giant. Austin, Texas-based private equity firm Vista Equity Partners recently announced a deal to acquire KnowBe4, currently publicly traded, in a deal worth $4.6 billion. KnowBe4 went public in April 2021.  

While Tampa has some presence on the lists, South Florida companies dominate the report, particularly what Panoramic analysts call “the emergence of a cryptocurrency hub in Miami.” That’s partially why fintech companies dethroned media companies for the No. 1 startup industry in the Sunshine State, with $3.6 billion invested over 410 deals, the report found. Media finished No. 2 in the state, with 231 deals worth $3.4 billion, followed by Software-as-a-Service, with 585 deals worth a total of $3.3 billion.  On the media side, a big factor was a $500 million investment Plantation-based augmented reality firm Magic Leap announced in October 2021. 



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