A moderate start for Q1 venture capital in South Florida. What were the top deals?

By Nancy Dahlberg

After a near-record setting year in 2020, VC investing into South Florida companies showed moderate strength in the first quarter of 2021. It may seem like we had an active first quarter in venture capital, but the data shows otherwise. Deal count was on par with other quarters over the last five years and the dollar value of the deals trailed most quarters, a venture capital analysis out today showed.

South Florida companies reeled in $230.7 million across 43 deals in the first quarter, up from a revised $137.09 million across 42 deals in Q1 of 2020, according to the Q1  Venture Monitor report produced by the National Venture Capital Association and PitchBook. 2020 saw a near-record total of $2.27 billion invested in the tri-county region’s startups.

 With that Q1 total, the Miami metro area ranks 15th in the U.S., but the total represents just 1/3 of 1 percent of the national VC pie.  By number of deals, 42 is in the range of almost every quarter in the last five years.   

The Miami-Fort Lauderdale region accounted for half of the state’s deal value total, which was  $468.7 million across 92 deals, according to the Venture Monitor report.

Here are the South Florida startups that raised the most funding in Q1, according to Pitchbook:

  • Nymbus – later stage, fintech, Miami Beach: $53 million
  • Unybrands – early stage, : ecommerce, Miami Beach: $25 million
  • Ironhack – later stage, coding school, Miami: $20 million
  • Magiis: early stage, mobility tech, Sunny Isles, $20 million
  • Carevive: later stage, healthtech, North Miami: $18 million
  • Smarthop: early stage, logistics tech, Miami, $12 million
  • Asteya, early stage, Insurtech, Miami: $10 million
  • Lumu – early stage, cybersecurity, Doral: $7.5 million
  • Green Scientific Labs – seed stage, cannabis, Davie: $6 million
  • Milo – seed stage: fintech, Miami: $6 million

But, but, but … At least two significant raises by South Florida companies were not recorded in the total by Pitchbook. Fort Lauderdale-based ShipMonk,  the e-commerce logistics provider, raised another $65 million in January on the heels of its $290 million raise in December, and Pipe, a fintech startup that is now a Miami company, raised $50 million  in March. Including those two sizable deals, South Florida companies would have pulled in $345.7 million.

The biggest exit recorded by Pitchbook was Purecycle Technologies of Orlando, a clean tech company, for $700 million, according to the Venture Monitor.

To be sure, the second quarter is off to a good start for South Florida. This week alone saw two fundings: Homegrown eldertech startup Papa reeled in $60 million, in a Series C round led by Tiger Global, and Memic, based in Tel Aviv and Fort Lauderdale and chaired by Miami serial entrepreneur Maurice R. Ferre, raised $96 million.

The national picture

The moderate start for South Florida contrasts with a strong showing nationally. After a record-setting year in 2020, venture capital came out swinging. Companies raised $69 billion, up 92% over Q1 a year ago, according to the Venture Monitor.  By the way,  the exodus from San Francisco and Silicon Valley we've been seeing isn't reflected in the venture numbers yet. More than a third of that venture total - $25 billion - flowed to SFBA  companies. Indeed, the SFBA reaped more than combined total of the next three highest metro areas for venture -- New York, Boston and LA. 

Mega-rounds continued to accelerate, becoming commonplace: 167 deals were valued at $100 million or more, bringing in $41.7 billion, which puts 2021 on track for another record year for mega-rounds, both in dollar volume and by number of deals.

While much of the world has yet to return to a pre-pandemic normal, angel, seed and early-stage deal activity is seeing sustained momentum in line with the last few years. However, investments of any size in women-led companies fell in the first quarter, a trend that continues from 2020, the Venture Monitor report said.

“On the heels of an unpredictable yet record-setting 2020, the US venture ecosystem is off to a strong start in the first quarter of 2021. Elevated VC activity across investments, fundraising and exits are already on track to set new records by the end of the year,” said John Gabbert, founder and CEO of PitchBook, about the national VC trends in Q1. “With record levels of VC fundraising in 2020 and dry powder still sitting at all-time highs, investors continue to write ever-larger checks at both the early and late stage, which has only been fueled further by nontraditional investors looking to capitalize on the VC investment universe and valuation growth before liquidity.”

Download the 1st quarter report here.

Miss the  eMerge Americas Insights report analyzing the Miami metro area’s near-record year for venture capital investment in 2021? Don't!  Download it here.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter and email her at ndahlbergbiz@gmail.com

Nancy Dahlberg
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