Tampa Bay Area companies win awards at Startup of the Year Summit

Tampa Bay made a good showing the 9th annual Startup of the Year Summit January 25-27 in Tampa, claiming the Breakout and People’s Choice awards.

Three of the five People’s Choice sector awards also went to Tampa Bay Area companies. 

The Tampa-based Genesis Systems, which has developed mass freshwater generation system that relies on humidity, won the first ever Breakout Award after quickly outgrowing the competition’s requirements.

“It’s an honor to have our team’s sustained work recognized at the Startup of the Year Summit,” says Genesis Systems’ Co-founder and CEO Shannon Stuckenberg. “Genesis is exceeding expectations and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in sustainable tech. With the production of WaterCube™, Genesis is on the precipice of altering human water access.”

Selected by Internet voting, the People's Choice Award presented by Reliaquest of Tampa went to Clearwater-based Cope Notes, which utilizes daily text messages to provide mental health support through peers, positive psychology, and digital journaling. The company also claimed the People’s Choice Award in the Health Tech, Biotech, Lifestyle and Wellness sector.

Other People’s Choice sector awards went to: Trustate of Tampa, in the Fintech, InsurTech, and Legal Tech category; and Genesis Systems, in the AgTech, Climate Tech, Sustainability, SpaceTech, Robotics, and Aerospace Manufacturing sector.

Three companies, who made the top 15 overall cut, have ties to Tampa Bay Wave, downtown Tampa’s not-for-profit accelerator, and the local region.

Dr. Richard Munassi, the Wave’s cohort director, credits the strong Wave showing to “the fact that things in Tampa are continuing to get better and better when it comes to all things startup.”

The three companies were the Tampa-based MARVL, the St. Petersburg-based Shamrck, and Spontivly, which is in the process of relocating to St. Petersburg from Canada.

“Over the years we’ve had a great relationship with them [Startup of the Year},” Dr. Munassi says. “We’ve certainly found them to be an excellent repository of young, strong, and fast-moving startups. We have seen several alumni of Startup of the Year apply for our programs at the Wave.”

The 2021 Startup of the Year winner was the Alexandria, VA-based SCOUT, which enables spacecraft to see and understand things around them. It was chosen by a panel of judges from among five companies selected to pitch at the event. The top five included an Orlando company, Home Lending Pal, working with the Wave. 

“The Tampa region and the state of Florida really showed up from the time we first announced until we hosted the event, the support from the community was unbelievable, says Frank Gruber, co-Founder and co-CEO of the Portland, Maine area-Established® and Established Ventures, Startup of the Year® Community and Awards. “From Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, to Hillsborough County Commissioner Kimberly Overman to Paul Sohl from The Florida High Tech Corridor and many others -- we felt the love from this region for bringing the Startup of the Year community to Tampa.”

The event, hosted locally by Lakshmi Shenoy and her team at Embarc Collective, was delayed until January to hold it in-person at a time when visitors would especially appreciate the Florida weather. There also were challenges because of COVID-19.

“Planning and executing the 9th Annual Startup of the Year Summit was more difficult than any other summit we have produced because of the pandemic and the latest variants. We had shifting goalposts from when we first started planning in May 2021 until the finals last week in Tampa,” Gruber points out. “That said, we were able to weather the storm and this was also one of our best Summits yet.”

The contest dates back to 2006 and the then Tech Cocktail or Tech Co., which was later acquired by consultancy Established.

Read more about Genesis and Shamrck in 83 Degrees. Read more about the Summit here.
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Read more articles by Cheryl Rogers.

Cheryl Rogers is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys writing about careers. An ebook author, she also writes Bible Camp Mystery series that shares her faith. She is publisher of New Christian Books Online Magazine and founder of the Mentor Me Career Network, a free online community, offering career consulting, coaching and career information. Now a wife and mother, Cheryl discovered her love of writing as a child when she became enthralled with Nancy Drew mysteries. She earned her bachelor's degree in Journalism and Sociology from Loyola University in New Orleans. While working at Loyola's Personnel Office, she discovered her passion for helping others find jobs. A Miami native, Cheryl moved to the Temple Terrace area in 1985 to work for the former Tampa Tribune