11th Annual GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Judging Process

Key Dates

  • Round Applications Open: May 20, 2021
  • Round 1 Applications Close: June 21, 2021, 5:00pm Central Time
  • Finalist Announced: Late June 2021
  • Round 2 Applications Open: July 12, 2021
  • Round 2 Applications Close: July 30, 2021, 5:00pm Central Time
  • Finalists Celebration Month: August 2021
    • Tampa Bay/Southwest – August 10, 2021, 9am
    • North Florida – August 10, 2021, 4pm
    • South Florida – August 17, 2021, 9am
    • East Central Florida – August 17, 2021 4pm
  • Honoree Judging: Late August 2021
  • Honorees Announced: Late September 2021

Final Judging Panel

The composition of the Final Judging Panel shall include:

  • Community Partner Representative
  • Previous Year Judge
  • Prior Year Winner/Alumni
  • Representative from Educational Institution/Organization (preferably in an area related to entrepreneurship or technology transfer)
  • Business Owner/Entrepreneur, ideally with broad knowledge of business beyond his/her own Service Provider involved in Financial Business Transactions for 2nd Stage Companies, e.g., Venture Capitalist, Private Equity Investor/Firm, Business Broker.
  • Legal Professional, ideally with experience related to IP/Patent law and working with 2nd stage companies
  • Representative from Professional Services firm (Accounting, Consulting, etc.)
  • Representative from an Association including groups serving industries, business people/entrepreneurs, special interest groups dealing with business, etc.


  • Preliminary judging is completed by the GrowFL Advisory Board Leadership (ABL).
  • Finalist Judging is completed by a representative group of the final judging panel.

Guidelines for Reviewing Applications

  • The Advisory Board Leadership’s role on the Preliminary Judging panel is to determine if a company should proceed to the next round as a finalist. This is a process of elimination, and in some respects, they are identifying companies that should NOT move on.
  • The Final Judging Panel is judging a company’s intent and capacity to grow based on past and projected growth as well as product and service potential. Companies selected as honorees of this award should also be exemplary corporate and community citizens. They keep the following in mind when reviewing the applications:
    1. Demonstrated Growth: Has the company grown steadily in employee counts and revenues? Negative or sluggish growth does not disqualify a company; check if the company addresses discrepancies.
    2. Future Growth:
      • Does the company project increased employee counts and revenue for 2021?
      • What is spurring this growth? Generally, companies that produce goods are better candidates than companies that offer services — judge their ability to expand market share without competition.
      • Look for vetting as evidenced by angel funding, venture capital backing or SBIR grants.
      • Other Strengths: Does the company possess qualities that point to being philanthropic and outstanding employers?
      • Regional depth: Allow leeway for companies outside of major metropolitan areas. Consider their smaller local market and relative lack of resources. This does not mean a company should be selected solely because of its location; redeeming factors must be present.
      • Industry representation: Don’t shy away from selecting companies in diverse industries if it meets other criteria. We are looking to represent the variety of industries that compose Florida’s economy.
      • Recuse: A judge will recuse themselves from voting if they are an investor in, service provider of or have proprietary information about a company, they may recuse themselves (i.e., if they expect to gain personally or professionally from a company winning this award).