eMerge Insights report: South Florida startups raised $5.33B in VC in 2021. But wait, there’s more.

* Fintech, healthtech and crypto led the momentum, fueled by new-to-Miami companies. VC data sources couldn’t keep up with #MiamiTech so here’s my tally.

* How many South Florida-based women-founded companies got funded in 2021? Spoiler alert: Way too few.

By now you probably know that South Florida venture capital in 2021 was the highest ever for the region, but perhaps you didn’t know how high that total was. That’s because the major venture capital data services just could not keep up with #MiamiTech in 2021 – a year with so many relocations.

Yet, I’ve  tried very hard to bring you a more accurate accounting of South Florida fundings, most of them reported on RefreshMiami.com. As I have done for the past three years, I researched and compiled a report for eMerge Americas, using data from Pitchbook, Crunchbase and CB Insights, as well as my own research. As a longtime business journalist, I have been tracking South Florida VC trends closely for the last decade.

eMerge Americas released the 16-page report today in its inaugural magazine, eMerge Magazine, today. The magazine was released today as the two-day eMerge Americas annual conference got underway. The report – as well as the entire magazine — is packed with trends and interesting details. Here are some of the VC highlights:

  • THE BIG NUMBER: $5.33 billion was invested in South Florida startups and later-stage companies across 285 deals. This is up 135% over 2020, where the total was $2.27 billion, according to my analysis.
  • NEW-TO-MIAMI COMPANIES POWER THE MOMENTUM: The Miami movement is bearing fruit, as 9 of the top 20 deals were led by entrepreneurs that relocated Miami in late 2020 or in 2021,  including MoonPay in the No. 1 spot, as well as Pipe, Eight Sleep, OpenStore, and others.
  • FINTECH IS KING: Financial technology catapulted to the most-active sector in 2021, moving healthcare technology to No. 2 for the first time since at least 2018. Consider this: In all of 2020, $112 million flowed into 23 fintech companies. But in 2021, the total was 62 deals representing $2.28 billion (yes, powered by a number of mega-deals). Fintech companies lured nearly 43% of the South Florida venture capital total and represented 21% of the total deals.
  • HEALTHTECH FUNDING TRIPLES: Healthcare technology companies attracted $1.1 billion in VC in 2021, up from $376 million in 2020. That represented nearly 21% of all VC dollars invested in South Florida companies in 2021. The 2021 take also tripled the amount invested in 2019.
  • A CRYPTO CAPITAL TIDAL WAVE: Crypto and blockchain fundings came alive in the second half of 2021, with 21 fundings – 23 total for the year. In total, $859 million flowed into South Florida companies that self-identified as crypto, blockchain, NFT or web3 focused companies.  These fundings represented over 16% of the fundings by dollar value and just over 8% of the deals.
  • MIAMI DOMINATES IN STATE: Startups based in the Greater Miami metro area snagged 75% of the state’s venture capital take in dollars and over 55% of the deals in 2021.
  • NO. 9 IN US: The South Florida metro – which includes Miami,Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach — ranked No. 9 for the year in the US, just ahead of No. 10 Washington DC and No. 11 Austin, (Note: By per capita, Austin ranked ahead of both Miami Metro and DC)
  • UNICORN HERD EXPANDS: Unicorns minted in 2021 in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area include Pipe,  creator of a trading platform for businesses’ recurring revenues dubbed “the Nasdaq of revenue”; Papa, the homegrown startup that offers “Papa Pals” to seniors through major health plans; Aleph Holding, a Miami digital advertising firm; the Miami-based insurtech platform HealthCare.com; MoonPay, the cryptocurrency infrastructure provider; and ShipMonk, the Fort Lauderdale based fulfillment provider. OpenStore, founded in 2021, is on the way; the Miami Shopify rollup startup was valued at $750 million at the time of its Series A.
  • EXITS RAMP UP: After a few quiet years since Chewy’s 2017 exit for $3.5 billion, exit activity came alive in 2021. There were at least 22 exits for South Florida companies in 2021, up sharply from 11 in 2020 and 9 each in 2019 and 2018.  The disclosed 2021 deals were valued at $3.56 billion, almost twice what the preceding three years of disclosed deals were combined.

There is much more in the report, including top deals, more details on the hot sectors, trends in funding stages, and more. The magazine will be available in print at the conference and is on digital here.


Many people ask me: What’s the VC tally for South Florida women-founded companies and companies founded by Black entrepreneurs? Unfortunately, I have not found a good data source for Black founder fundings, but if you know of one please let me know at [email protected], as I would like to begin tracking this. Nationally, the numbers are dismal: Funding that goes to startups founded by Black entrepreneurs is about 2 percent.

I found data on women founders, from Pitchbook, but the list included a few inaccuracies and omissions. I used that list as my starting point and did independent confirmations. (Find more on this packaged with a story about #miamitech women)

How many South Florida-based women-founded companies got funded in 2021? Spoiler alert: Way too few.

  • For startups funded solely by women in South Florida, I could confirm there were at least 7 fundings in 2021 from Pitchbook’s data and my own research. Those totaled $31.3 million. That represents 0.6% of the dollars in the Miami metro area. That compares to 2% nationally. Ouch.
  • For startups with at least one co-founder on the team, I confirmed at least 38 deals. Those deals attracted $362.6 million in funding. That’s just 6.8% of the funding pie, far below the percentage nationally, which was 16.6%, according to Pitchbook.

I’m sure I missed some deals, plus venture data lags and is constantly updated. I did my analysis in early February. But overall, I do not believe I am not too far off, and we have work to do. There were more interesting findings from my research. Check out the eMerge Magazine for more.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg and email her at [email protected]

READ MORE ON REFRESH MIAMI: Miami area startups snagged more than $1B in VC in Q1 2022. Here were the top deals.

Nancy Dahlberg