What does Mickey Mouse know that we don’t? 

Well Orlando, Florida is not only home to Mickey and the Disney crew, but it is a thriving tech hub as well. The city also recently made the Milken Institute’s list of top-performing U.S. cities, where job growth is expanding. The “mighty middle” is heating up, with cities like Reno, Denver, and Austin also ranking well on their list.

Unfortunately, the news isn’t all good. 

While hiring top tech professionals is a top priority for many companies, women are leaving the tech sector in droves – and 37% of women who abandon the tech industry say company culture is the main reason they walk out the door. Keep scrolling to find out more about what the tech industry is doing to fix the problem (it may not be what you think!)

Optimism is high for IoT companies in 2020, as interest in Internet-connected devices is blowing up across industries like the energy sector. The worldwide commercial market for the Internet of things is forecasted to increase to $278.9 billion by 2024, so you keep your eye out for connected devices…well, everywhere.

Get the details on these headlines, as well as other industry news, in the latest edition of The Spark.

More in this issue:

  • 🔥It’s Heating Up
  • 💔Women in Tech Dropping Out?
  • 📈$278 Billion in IoT
  • 🛢Tech In The Oil Capital

– Matt

P.S. More exciting news coming from Powderkeg next Tuesday—something I know you’ll want to be a part of. Keep an eye out for a note from me 👀


🔥 It’s Heating Up

Tech in the Rockies? Brand new reports indicate that tech job growth continues to expand in smaller tech metro hubs between the coasts. 

The recently-published Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Cities Index lists these cities in their collection of places to watch for jobs:

  • Provo-Orem (#2)
  • Austin (#3)
  • Reno (#4)
  • Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford (#5) 
  • Boise City (#7)

Colorado is also generating buzz as an up-and-coming tech base. The state ranked #2 for tech job growth according to the September 2020 CompTIA Employment Tracker. The Denver metro area also ranked #9 for August tech job growth in cities.

Ready to make it rain? The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released projections that predict the best-paying jobs of the future, and software developers/software quality assurance analysts snagged the number #1 spot. Find out what other jobs can help you bring in bigger bucks.

Need more evidence of the growth of the mighty middle? Major financial services report that hiring tech professionals is a top priority for them – and Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are hot spots for fintech jobs. eFinancialCareers’ latest report listed the Steel City and Philly on the top of the list of cities with the most tech job growth so far in 2020.

If you’re looking for opportunities in tech, and Silicon Valley isn’t your thing – there’s plenty of possibility in the mighty middle. 

Looking for a new opportunity at an awesome tech company located between the coasts? Join the Powderkeg tech jobs network to get connected with companies who are hiring now.

💔Women in Tech Dropping Out?

Culture is the culprit. Many women are abandoning careers in tech in large numbers, according to a new analysis from Accenture and Girls Who Code. Their joint report shows that 37% of women who leave careers in tech fields cite “company culture” as the primary reason for their exit.

Many women are overwhelmed by pressure from all sides – and it shows. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly jobs report stated that four times more women than men dropped out of the labor force in September. Of the 1.1 million workers who left the workforce, over 80% were women, including 58,000 Black women and 324,000 Latinas. 

How companies can move the needle. There is reason for optimism, though – many tech organizations are making changes so they can recruit and retain more women. The Accenture and Girls Who Code report recommends specific ways to make company culture more inclusive, including:

  • Promote equal parenting
  • Provide targeted workplace support
  • Reward innovation
  • Schedule networking opportunities with colleagues and senior leaders

It is possible to reset tech culture and make workplaces more inclusive – which can make employees happier, more engaged, and more willing to innovate. 

Your team made it through a lot this year. Make time to celebrate them at the 2020 Tech Culture Awards. Apply today >>

📈 $278 Billion in IoT

Connected devices, unite! The worldwide commercial market for the Internet of things is expected to increase to $278.9 billion by 2024, up from $139.3 billion in 2019.

Complex industries currently rely on time-consuming, inefficient approaches to get work done – and that creates big opportunities for IoT startups in industries like healthcare, manufacturing, automotive, retail, and transportation.

Smarter power grids on the way. The energy sector also needs smarter, lightweight, internet-enabled devices to help them become more efficient and optimize resources – and that is contributing to the higher demand for IoT. 

Looking for hot IoT companies to watch in 2020? Here are Forbes magazine’s five fastest-growing startups in the IoT industry:

Keep an eye for these fast-growing unvalley companies tackling big opportunities in IoT. 

Want to learn more about awesome companies like these? Check out the Tech Culture Directory to browse our database of tech companies in the mighty middle.


Top fundings, acquisitions, and IPOs between the coasts. 

Annapolis, MD

  • Curation Health, a clinical decision support platform, announced a Series A financing round for an undisclosed amount. The round was led by Deerfield Management Company and supported by existing investor WindRose Health Investors.

Austin, TX

  • Array, an app for operations and workflow automation processes, announced it raised a seed funding round from Cortado Ventures.
  • HUVRdata, a cloud-based industrial asset management solution, announced it raised $5 Million in Series A financing. Cottonwood Venture Partners led the round, joined by Wild Basin Investments.

Chicago, IL

  • NOCD, a startup specializing in identifying and treating obsessive-compulsive disorder, announced it raised $12 million in Series A funding. Health Enterprise Partners led the round.

Columbus, OH

  • PriorAuthNow, a platform that provides solutions to accelerate patient care access for all stakeholders, announced it raised $10 million in funding. Atlanta-based BIP Capital led the round with participation from NCT Ventures and Detroit Venture Partners.

Denver, CO

  • Exer Labs, a fitness startup that uses an AI platform, announced it raised $2 Million in seed funding. The round was backed by Morado Ventures, Range VC, Service Provider Capital, and others.
  • Deepwatch, a provider of intelligence-driven security services, announced it closed a $53 million Series B funding round. Goldman Sachs led the round with participation from existing investor ABS Capital Partners. 

Greenwich, CT

Lehi, UT

  • Claravine, a technology platform that helps standardize, govern, and connect marketing data, announced a $5 million raise in Series A funding. Grayhawk Capital led the round with participation from Next Frontier Capital and Peninsula Ventures.

Philadelphia, PA

    • goPuff, a Philadelphia-based startup that delivers home products, announced a $380 million in new funding. The funding round was led by existing investors Accel and D1 Capital Partners, along with participation from Luxor Capital and SoftBank Vision Fund.


Know someone looking for a new gig? The economy is unpredictable right now, but startups in the middle of the country are still hiring. 

We have a few of our Top Powderkeg Picks below:

Companies who are hiring:

Austin, TX
  • BigCommerce, a SaaS provider for merchants running online businesses, is hiring for a Lead Software Engineer, Campaign Manager, and several support roles.
  • Pushnami, a cloud-based messaging software platform, is hiring for a Product Marketing Manager, engineers, and a Senior UI/UX Designer.
Indianapolis, IN
  • Passageways, a provider of board management software, is hiring for account executives, BDR’s, and a Demand Generation Manager.
  • GadellNet, a team of exceptional IT experts, is hiring an account manager and several engineering roles.
Raleigh, NC
  • SignalPath, a clinical trial facilitation platform, is hiring a Manager of Engineering and a senior software engineer.
  • Adzerk, an API platform that allows developers to build innovative, server-side ad platforms, is hiring for a VP of Business Development, BDR’s, and an Account Manager.
Tulsa, OK
  • Tenstreet, a web-based provider of recruiting software and workflow solutions, is hiring for several SDRs and staff accountant.
  • Zero Health, a unifying health platform for the member-first economy, is hiring for a claims analyst and sales development role.
Multiple Locations or remote:
  • Kazoo HR, an all-in-one employee experience platform that combines recognition, performance, and engagement, is hiring for several engineering roles.
  • One Drop, a diabetes management platform, is hiring marketers, customer experience specialists, and product managers.

Need to optimize your resume for opportunities like these? Get feedback using our new resume review tool.

🏙Unvalley Spotlight

Tulsa, OK: Tech in The Oil Capital of The World?

In this section of the Spark, we illuminate some of the biggest opportunities in tech beyond Silicon Valley.

When you’re thinking about making a move to a new tech city in the Mighty Middle, the city of Tulsa may not be the first city that comes to mind. Tulsa has been attracting new residents with its fresh new co-working spaces, creating business investment and advisory firms, and offering affordable housing. Just recently, the city was offering to pay people $10,000 to move there and work remotely. It sounds like an excellent opportunity for your next big move to the Mighty Middle, so sit back, relax, and grab the latest on what’s happening in this up-and-coming tech city.

Key Tech Facts About Tulsa, OK:

Awards and Accolades:

Take a sneak peek at what’s booming here in the Oil Capital of the World

Are you looking for more news in tech between the coasts? It’s free to sign up for our hand-curated newsletter, The Spark, delivered to your inbox each week with the tech news outside Silicon Valley you need to know. Sign up here!