Meet the Reporter Who Put Tampa Bay Tech On the Map
If you've ever read an article about Tampa Bay's flourishing tech scene, there's a good chance you're familiar with Lauren Coffey's work. As one of the community's most respected technology reporters, Lauren has been at the forefront of Tampa Bay's emergence into the tech industry.
Hailing from Des Moines, Lauren made her way to the Sunshine State after graduating from the University of Iowa. Before landing her current gig at the Tampa Bay Business Journal, she reported on crime in the Sarasota area.
But Lauren always had her eye on Tampa Bay. So when she had the opportunity to give up the crime beat to cover startups, education, and technology for the Tampa Bay Business Journal, she didn't hesitate to make her move.
"Tampa was always my end game. It's a good, mid-sized city with everything you could think of, so I wanted to see what was out there."
So in 2018, Lauren hit the ground running at the Tampa Bay Business Journal, where she has been delivering top-notch reporting for the city ever since.
"I didn't know anything about startups or tech. I had no idea about seed rounds or what a venture capital firm was, so I was kind of thrown into it. But people were really kind about teaching me about everything, people are just genuinely nice in Tampa."
When Lauren arrived on the scene in 2018, Tampa Bay wasn’t quite the bustling tech hub it is today. Five years ago, people didn't see Tampa Bay as a leader in tech, and there was only a budding interest in the local tech scene.
Fast forward to today, and the Tampa Bay area has become a national hotbed for tech startups and innovation. From fintech and Web3 to blockchain technology, an increasing number of successful startups are calling Tampa Bay home. The community boasts a vibrant collection of entrepreneurs, investors, and developers who work together to make the community a top destination for tech businesses.
"Now we have more infrastructure in place to drive things forward. There's the Tampa Bay Wave, Embark Collective, and a lot more venture funding. These organizations have incredible people in powerful positions that make our city such a collaborative space."
Lauren also points out that some of Tampa Bay's early entrepreneurs are now making their exits, offering another critical stepping stone to fuel the economic fire of the local tech community's evolution.
"They're getting money that they can put back into the local ecosystem and start new companies with. The financial building blocks are there, so now it's time for these companies to build up and outward."
Since she started reporting for the Tampa Bay Business Journal, Lauren has been recognized with three Green Eyeshade awards for excellence in journalism across the southeastern United States.
"It's nice to be acknowledged for the work I'm doing. I think people's willingness to speak to me has been so beneficial—I believe if we can talk about what's happening, we can shine a light on Tampa Bay's startup ecosystem."
But Lauren's impact documenting the explosive growth of Tampa Bay tech doesn't stop there.
After establishing herself as a voice in the community, Lauren was offered another opportunity to share Tampa Bay's story with the world with the Tampa Inno.
Plans had been in place to launch a Tampa Inno for a few years. But after Lakshmi Shenoy—CEO of Embarc Collective—saw the effect Inno had in Chicago, she knew it needed to come to Tampa Bay sooner.
"Lakshmi lived in Chicago, where they have the Chicago Inno. There's a Boston Inno, an Austin Inno, so she wanted to see one in Tampa Bay, too. People needed to see that cool things are happening here in tech, and they offered me the job."
Today, the Tampa Bay Inno is a digital media company that covers the community's thriving entrepreneurial and startup ecosystem. Created with the goal of building a portal to and for the region's entrepreneurs and startups, the Tampa Bay Inno covers trends and topics that are shaping the present and future of Tampa Bay's tech economy.
In addition to writing articles for the Tampa Bay Inno website, Lauren also sends out a twice-weekly newsletter called The Beat, which offers insightful stories on the most innovative people, companies, and ideas driving tech forward in Tampa Bay. The newsletter reaches readers across the nation.
"I built it from subscriber zero to where it is now in the thousands. We have events quarterly, so anyone who comes gets added. Synapse has helped a lot, and High Tech Connect has been the best—they always have an opt-in at their meetup. A lot of people have passed it along to make it a success. The process is kind of like a startup—we've just figured it out as we go."
Whether you're an entrepreneur, investor, or just someone interested in keeping up with the latest trends, The Beat is essential reading for anyone in Tampa Bay's tech community. You can sign up here to stay in the loop.
"There are so many stories I want to tell, so many cool things I want to write about. I want to talk more about the people exiting companies and creating new wealth. I'm also interested in writing more in-depth pieces about the industry in things like Fintech or Insuretech—real profile pieces. If anyone in Tampa Bay wants to reach out to me with their own story to share, I'd love to hear from them."
Are you an innovative force in the Tampa Bay community? You can follow Lauren on LinkedIn or reach out to her directly to share how you're making Tampa Bay one of the nation's most exciting places for tech.