Rachel Carpenter was one of the early adapters, moving her data analytics startup to St. Petersburg from Chicago in 2013. Back then, there wasn’t much of a tech startup community in the Sunshine City, although there were some larger players. St. Pete offered this innovative startup affordability — and of course perfect weather.
“We just fell in love with the area. Pretty quickly, we started to realize it was a gem that had just been undiscovered. The community did a very good job of opening up what was there to entrepreneurs,” Carpenter says, recalling how she got an opportunity to have lunch with the CEO of Raymond James shortly after moving to St. Pete. “After that, we found investors, and started to build and grow our team.”
Now the red-hot data analytics sector is beginning to reach critical mass in St. Pete, with large companies, midsize firms, and scrappy startups — and that is a recipe for success, she says.
According to the St. Petersburg Economic Development Corporation (EDC), data analytics is a targeted industry because of its robust current and projected growth. Some of the city’s large employers, including Jabil, HSN, and Catalina are data analytics players, but newer companies are also making a mark, including Spontivly, a former Canadian company offering a data-driven community platform that recently reeled in an investment from Mark Cuban and expects to hire more than 60 people.
Like Carpenter, Bill Lederer, CEO of iSocrates, fell in love with the city. “We’re a product and service company, and our primary product is a SaaS platform called MADTechBI — the convergence of marketing and advertising technology and data analytics.”
"There’s a critical mass of people interested in data analytics, and you can tell that from the classes being taken, the job openings, and the number of applicants. Employers want it and it’s an area of significant innovation."
Data analytics is a growing sector, he explains, and helped by a targeted EDC tax credit program. Schools are graduating students with these abilities, and a growing number of employers — Catalina, Nielsen — are ready to scoop them up.
“There’s a critical mass of people interested in data analytics, and you can tell that from the classes being taken, the job openings, and the number of applicants. Employers want it and it’s an area of significant innovation,” says Lederer. “We’re in a market where the tools are proliferating in a ridiculously high rate. It’s just a golden age of innovation for data analytics.”
This article by Nancy Dahlberg originally appeared in Florida Trend.