Tampa Bay leads the way on blockchain

    Whether you understand the world of cryptocurrency and are already using it — or you’ve been living under a rock and trying to avoid it (like us) — there’s one thing you need to know: Tampa Bay is where its future is being built.

    What's happening: Like the garage Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak built the first Apple computers in, Tampa has become the hub for startups centered around blockchain.
    • Blockchain is a ledger of verified transactions of digital assets that catalogs those transactions publicly. It’s how cryptocurrency works without needing to go through a third party, like a bank.
    The state of play: Embarc Collective CEO Lakshmi Shenoy tells Axios that Tampa Bay startups are expanding the tech to be used in everyday life.
    • It’s being engineered for government, retail, medical records, school transcripts, insurance, agriculture and real estate — eliminating the clunky, time-consuming way we verify documents during transactions.
    A list of Tampa Bay blockchain startups and what they do:
    • RB Technologies establishes transparency and trust in the dietary supplement and food industries through proprietary blockchain technology.
    • Real Random makes software for secure authentication to manage and renew public key certificates.
    • ProCredEx creates a digital marketplace for exchanging verified professional credentials.
    • TrustLayer moved from San Fransisco to Tampa to automate insurance verification for business coverage.
    • SkuX accelerates revenue growth, data visibility, and ROI for brands and retailers through smart, secure digital offers and payments.
    • eNotaryLog allows users anywhere in the world to notarize HIPAA compliant forms.
    The backdrop: Just about all of these companies and more came out of Blockspaces, a startup led by Tampa blockchain OGs Gabe Higgins and Rosa Shores.
    • Blockspaces opened officially in 2017. Shores calls it "a place that had air conditioning where people could get together and talk about these projects."
    • It has raised $1.2 million to let small and mid-sized businesses start using the blockchain for their supply chains, track-and-trace technologies and other applications.
    • "Having that support network has made people brave and created a big light of talent. It really is this massive community that’s sort of pushing the fold here. ... I haven’t experienced anything like it anywhere else in the country," Shores said.
    The big picture: Shores is also the VP of the Florida Blockchain Business Association, which focuses on regulation around crypto and blockchain in Tallahassee.
    • She’s pushing for legislation this session that she says will continue to make Florida friendlier for these startups.
    What to watch ... Shores, Higgins and Shenoy all agree: The most exciting Tampa blockchain startup is Pocket Network.
    • The platform allows developers to connect any app, on any blockchain, to any device with a single line of code.
    The bottom line: Pocket Network founder Michael O'Rourke calls Tampa "the blockchain capital you haven't heard of yet."
    "I traveled around the world a bunch of times over the last few years. Comparing it with larger cities, I can 100% tell you that the kind of soul here in Tampa is very different and very unique. When people come and visit and experience it, they’re like, 'Holy s--t, this is really cool.'"
    Interested in being a part of the future of blockchain integration? Subscribe to our newsletter for updates on product releases, pilot program opportunities, and more.

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