Venture capital firm leaves Phoenix for Tampa Bay • St Pete Catalyst


The region’s burgeoning reputation as a fintech and blockchain hub continues to attract companies from across the country and caught the eye of longtime investor Scott Kelly.

While the Phoenix area has also seen phenomenal growth in recent years, Tampa Bay’s startup ecosystem — and Florida’s lack of income taxes — have proven irresistible to Kelly. The CEO of Black Dog Venture Partners completed his move from Arizona to Tampa on August 1.

According to its website, Black Dog offers venture capital advice and access to funding through a network of 13,000 investors. He also provides business development and executive coaching services for “disruptive” companies, focusing on those in the fintech, blockchain and gaming space. Additionally, Kelly is a strategic advisor for Fortress Blockchain Technologies, a leader in building Web3 infrastructure.

“I think the business scene and the ecosystem is amazing,” said Kelly of Tampa and St. Petersburg. “I literally met hundreds of people, even before I got here.”

Kelly has a brother in nearby Clearwater and said he fell in love with the area when he visited for the 2021 Super Bowl. After spending the past 20 years in Phoenix, he decided to move in October from Last year. He has moved back and forth in the meantime, and the move is now final.

Kelly said it was an exciting time for the region as founders continued to launch promising new startups and existing businesses saw growth. While Tampa Bay is home to many established investors, he said a growing number are now discovering the area’s potential.

“In fact, many I communicate with in other parts of the country are intrigued by what is happening here,” he added.

Black Dog, Kelly said, works with startups and entrepreneurs and helps them create pitch decks and business plans while connecting them with investors across the country. His company also provides scaling solutions as startups grow and helps find new talent. In some cases, Kelly said, Black Dog helps owners exit their businesses.

Kelly has spent 30 years in fundraising, marketing, sales, training and advertising. It’s also hosting a series of virtual and in-person VC Fast Pitch events, with the next one taking place Oct. 13 at the University of Tampa. Black Dog’s conferences have helped startups raise millions of dollars over nearly a decade, according to the website.

Although Kelly’s new home is in Tampa, he said he is also considering offices for his business across the bay and will be meeting with several people next week to discuss potential locations in Saint PETERSBOURG.

“I’ve been lucky enough to meet some great people in the St. Pete community,” Kelly said. “And there are certain advantages to being in St. Pete against Tampa, although I don’t really see it as a competition. I see it more as different opportunities.

Kelly said he recently welcomed a few locals to the Black Dog team and plans to hire more aggressively by early October.

He added that he was “getting ground” and already had a slew of appointments for his second week in the region.

Kelly believes the fintech industry will continue to thrive throughout Tampa Bay and mentioned blockchain integration platform BlockSpaces as a company that has thrived in the region’s ecosystem.

Kelly attended the grand opening of the University of South Florida’s new Fintech Center in St. Petersburg in April and said the institution is “doing some pretty spectacular things.”

“So I think there are great opportunities,” he said. “One of our portfolio companies – we’re probably going to bring some staff into this market, and they’re in the NFT fintech space.

“Again, I’m just excited to be here.”


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