ReliaQuest founder to bring proven experience in scaling startups to support 70+ early stage companies at Florida’s premier startup hub

Tampa, FL: Mar. 17, 2021 Embarc Collective, the nonprofit startup hub helping founders in the Tampa Bay region build bold, scalable, thriving companies, today announced Brian Murphy as Chair of the Board of Directors.

Murphy will replace Jeff Vinik, owner of Tampa Bay Lightning, and co-owner of Strategic Property Partners, who will continue to support Embarc Collective as Vice Chair of the Board. Prior to taking the Chair role, Murphy had been a member of Embarc Collective’s Founders Circle and Board of Directors since 2020. The Founder’s Circle, a collection of Tampa’s top business leaders who have become Embarc Collective board members, is committed to tracking the startup hub’s success.

Murphy brings tremendous experience in growing successful technology startups in the Tampa Bay region. As CEO and founder of the Tampa-based cybersecurity company ReliaQuest, Murphy has grown the company to 600 employees in five locations globally and raised $330 million in funding from leading private equity firms KKR and FTV Capital. Hundreds of enterprise clients, such as American Eagle, Campbell Soup Company, and St. Jude’s Research Hospital, use ReliaQuest’s solutions.

“I’m beyond excited to be stepping into this leadership role at Embarc Collective, to help its member startups win,” said Brian Murphy, CEO of ReliaQuest and Embarc Collective’s new board chair. “We have the playbook for success: the right people, the right resources, and the right experience. We’ve got a tremendous opportunity to grow something that’s very powerful.”

The new leadership structure positions Murphy and Vinik as part of a three-member leadership team with Lakshmi Shenoy, Embarc Collective’s CEO, empowering the startup hub to further accelerate its mission to develop the Tampa Bay region’s dynamic entrepreneurial talent.

The news follows a period of rapid growth for Embarc Collective. In March 2019, the organization began working with 25 early-stage startups. By January 2020, Embarc Collective had doubled the number of startups it supported and completed construction of its 32,000-square-foot office near the new Water Street Tampa corridor. By the end of the year, the startup hub had delivered more than 1,300 hours of one-on-one coaching to these member companies.

From January 2020 to January 2021, Embarc Collective grew its member base to over 70 companies, in industries ranging from ecommerce to pharma-tech to LGBTQ-friendly travel.

A growing number of factors make the Tampa Bay region an attractive place for entrepreneurs. The area boasts exceptional recruitment opportunities: Nearby universities represent a combined total enrollment of over 200,000 students a year. And there’s a strong network of 60+ investment firms in Florida ready to invest in promising technology startups.

What’s more, the region’s population is young, with a median age of 35, and growing fast. As the pandemic and the rise of remote work continue to force people to leave major metropolitan areas like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, Tampa’s population has grown. In 2020, it ranked fourth in the US for net new migration.

The whole state offers similar incentives. Florida’s low cost of living, absence of state income tax, and average 237 sunny days a year provide further incentives to early-stage founders and seasoned operators alike.

In the last year, a number of companies have expanded their offices or fully relocated their headquarters from large metropolitan areas to the Tampa Bay region. Those include tech startups like TrustLayer and JetBridge, both of whom recently relocated from San Francisco to Tampa, becoming Embarc Collective members, and others like Pfizer, which recently announced plans to open a global capability hub in Tampa, and Fisher Investments, which opened an office in Tampa in June 2020. Recent transplants include HelloFresh cofounder Daniel Treiman and Wag! cofounder Brendan Rogers.

“The Tampa Bay region’s economy is booming right now,” said Vinik. “There’s going to be nominal growth of at least seven percent in the next five to ten years, which is huge. With so much of this growth coming from inbound migration in the tech sector, Embarc Collective is perfectly poised to capitalize on this trend and turn it into more wins for the region’s startup community.”


About Embarc Collective

 Embarc Collective is a nonprofit startup hub helping founders in the Tampa Bay region build bold, scalable, thriving companies. Embarc Collective offers hands-on support driven by the unique goals and needs of each member startup. Member companies receive customized, on-going coaching and support from startup veterans to help propel member companies’ growth.

Embarc Collective works with a growing roster of over 70 early-stage startups at its 32,000 square-foot office in downtown Tampa, located near Water Street Tampa, a new nine-million-square-foot urban development project. In 2020, Embarc Collective delivered 1,300 hours of one on one coaching to its members. Between Jan. 2020 and Jan. 2021, Embarc Collective increased its membership by 45 percent.

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