GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch is an awards program honoring second-stage companies headquartered in the state of Florida. These companies demonstrate high performance in the marketplace or exhibit innovative products or processes. The awards program is designed to seek businesses from a wide range of industries throughout the state, not just the major metropolitan areas. The companies selected each year make an astounding impact on Florida’s economy by collectively providing thousands of jobs and contributing millions of dollars in revenue. In short, they tell a compelling story about the state’s diverse economic landscape. Florida Companies to Watch is presented by GrowFL, in association with the Edward Lowe Foundation. What do companies receive if selected as a Company to Watch? Awardees do not simply make it onto a list. They become part of a cohort of second-stage companies that are known for their distinguished leadership, innovation and impact. Honorees receive the following:
What is the Eligibility Criteria for this award? A company must be a second-stage company, characterized as established and growing firms as defined by the traits below. They are typically past the startup phase and face growth challenges rather than survival issues. A company must meet the following for the year ending 2019:
I’ve been nominated for the award. Now what do I do? First off, congratulations — your nominator thinks highly of your company! Applications will officially open in March 2020. Review the eligibility criteria then fill out an application by May 1, 2020 at 5:00 PM Central Time. Applications will open soon. Check back here for updates.
I have not received a nomination — may I still be considered? Absolutely. Companies may apply directly and need not be nominated. The deadline for completion is May 1, 2020 at 5:00 PM Central Time. Applications will open soon. Check back here for updates.
How are award recipients selected? The award recipients will be selected by a panel of independent judges comprised of CEOs, economic development leaders and partners of GrowFL. The judging panel is allowed complete discretion in determining award recipients. The award will be based on the following criteria:
What should I include for Revenue Annual gross revenue would include sales receipts, as well as working capital from investors or grants. Only include grants and investments used for “working capital.” Not all funds received as grants or investments would be considered as “revenue” as we mean it, only those that are used for operations, payroll, capital expenditures, etc. That is, not funds that are considered assets — sitting in the bank or investment portfolios.
What are “Special Strengths”? Special strengths are traits that make a company stand out from its competition or make it the leader in its field. A company’s strength might be its innovative products or business practices, special use of technology or involvement in its community. On the application, companies are asked to provide examples of how they embody any of these strengths. This list is not exclusive, and companies are encouraged to provide alternatives.
May we provide product samples, customer testimonials or other exhibits? We are unable to accept materials other than your application. However, do refer to these materials or quote from them to support your points in the application.
How is financial information used? Please be assured that we exercise numerous measures to ensure the information you provide is kept confidential and used only for purposes of selecting awardees. See below for details on how we use and don’t use the financial information on your application:
Are franchisees eligible? Franchisees are technically eligible if they are wholly-owned and operated. Some franchises typically don’t fare very well in this competition if the local owner does not have complete autonomy to lead or grow the business (e.g., branding, innovating solutions, branching out). Franchisors operate differently, so if the business owner can be entrepreneurial in approach and isn’t bound by the franchisor in strategizing for growth, then it’s worth a shot. To help the judges understand that your franchise operates differently than the typical one, please address the entrepreneurial aspects of your franchise on the application.
Are start-ups eligible? Start-ups that meet the eligibility requirements may apply. Keep in mind that revenue can include equity investments and grants, in addition to sales receipts.
Are nonprofit organizations eligible? Nonprofit organizations are not eligible for this award. A company must be a commercial enterprise to be considered for the award.
Are past winners eligible? Past winners are not eligible. As we like to say, once a winner, always a winner. However, past winners are eligible for special opportunities such as attendance at leader retreats, Alumni awards, events and networking. Be on the lookout for notices from GrowFL.
Are publicly-traded companies eligible? Firms that are traded on public stock exchanges are not eligible for this award. Companies to Watch only considers businesses that are privately-held.
Why can’t my company be more than 51% owned by another entity? Applicants must be privately held and not a subsidiary or division of another company. If the parent company is eligible, we encourage that entity to serve as the applicant. Companies to Watch focuses on businesses that are in control of their own destiny in terms of strategy, vision and profit. Entities that take direction from a parent company are often not in a position to exercise such control. If you feel your situation is in a “gray area,” enter “Yes” to the question , then answer the questions that follow, and we will consider your situation on a case by case basis.
Can “convertible debt” be included as revenue? Yes, convertible debt can be included in your revenues, but explain this in the textbox immediately below the revenue amounts. Also explain when the debt will mature and if company ownership will change upon conversion. Lastly, list the conversion as “other” in Section 4C (percentage of revenue from various sources).
Must my company have between 6 and 150 employees? Yes, to qualify for the award, companies must have between 6 and 150 “full-time equivalent employees” in 2019. To determine “full-time equivalent” for purposes of this award, consider the following:
Must a company have between $750,000 and $100 million in revenue? Yes, companies must have between $750,000 and $100 million in revenue in 2019. In addition to sales receipts, revenue may include equity investments, grants or other forms of funding in 2019 that were used as working capital. Be sure to apply the same approach for all requested years and list the various sources of revenue in the application.
How can we improve our application? The following best practices were followed by past winners:
I forgot my login — how do I retrieve it? If you are not a contact on your company’s application: Because of confidentiality, we do not provide access to applications except to those listed as company contacts, or if the contacts allow us to do so. To expedite your request, contact info@GrowFL.com with your full name, title and email address. If possible, copy the company contact in your message. We will request permission from the contact person on record to share the online login account with you.
When will a decision be made? All applicants will be notified by mid-July if they have been selected as a 2020 honoree. Companies that make it to the finalist round will be notified late May 2020, but please keep in mind that all applications are active and eligible until the final decisions are made.