7 Tips for Standing Out in Your Start Co. Accelerator Application


Each year we release our applications for our highly competitive accelerator programs. With this post I wanted to tell how you can stand out over others during application screening.

Here are 7 tips for standing out in your application to our accelerator programs at Start Co.  Be sure to apply and learn more here: apply

  1. Teamwork makes the dreamwork

The #1 factor of success for a startup company is the team. So at Start Co. we want to see that you have a strong founding team. We want to know that your talents and skills complement each other and you can work together. Do you have the technical ability to build something?  Founding a company is not easy and you need great teammates.

  1. Amaze us!

We receive 100s of applications, so make yourself stand out! Tell us how you’ve overcome big problems in the past and what things you have loved doing. Show us why we should offer you a spot in our next cohort. We value diversity and focus on inclusion — help us understand why you are different.

  1. Build great relationships

Recommendations spark our interest and instantly catapult you forward. A strong reference from a member of the Start Co. network, perhaps a mentor or a founder from a previous accelerator, will definitely help you.  Hustling to get an awesome recommendation is a great indicator of the drive and resourcefulness we want in our accelerators.

  1. Tell us what you’ve learned

We love to see teams that have been out there working hard to get customers, even if you’ve failed. We want to see that you’re willing to iterate and adapt quickly. Tell us what you’ve learned. What have you tried and failed at? What do you know now about your customers that you didn’t know before?

  1. Tell us about your competitive advantage or unique perspective

We’ve seen countless startups in the past. It’s execution and not the idea that counts. Nonetheless we want to know you’ve spent time thinking through how you can beat out the competition. Tell us how you are better and how you’re different.  How are you better than all the other startups trying to solve the same problem?

  1. Do your homework

Know what kind of companies have gone through our accelerators before.  Not sure if you are a fit? Email us at info@neverstop.co and we can help you determine.

  1. Turn it in!

Remember that the application is only first step of many towards getting into our program.  Don’t get hung up on perfection to the point you don’t submit something.  Just click submit and do it by March 20th.  And if you happen to turn it in sooner, that will just give us more time to look over and make special note of your application.


Again, here is the link to apply: https://www.f6s.com/startco.2018accelerator/apply


Start Co. announces winners of Virtual Pitch Competition


We are excited to announce that we have the winners of our 2017 Virtual Pitch Competition! We want to thank all of our participants for submitting their great ideas.

As a reminder, the judging criteria: Applicants must submit a 90-second video sharing their startup idea using the following guidelines:

  • Introduce your team
  • Describe your tech product/service
  • Tell us about your customer and the problem you’re solving for them
  • Explain how your product works to solve that problem
  • Tell us where you are in the process
  • Make a realistic ask
  • Passion and enthusiasm count

1st Place Fly with Freya https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-0i90yipSI&feature=youtu.be

Prize: $1,000 cash

             1 hour meeting with Eric Mathews, CEO of Start Co.

             Finalist in the Start Co. Accelerator applications

             Promotion via our social networks

Most Creative Pitch Clu https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-1hdGNXWIY&feature=youtu.be

Prize: $200 Amex Gift Card

Solving the Biggest ProblemSage Robotics https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maXEbHKaqac&feature=youtu.be

Prize: $150 Facebook Ad Credits

Strongest TeamTiqueSeek https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hm5WxNknHgk&feature=youtu.be

Prize: $100 Facebook Ad Credits

Most Enthusiastic PresentationCold

Zones https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gC_qZscI5WE&feature=youtu.be

Prize: $50 Starbucks Gift Card


Thank you to all of the startups that shared their ideas with us. #neverstop

Startup Spotlight: Building Box


Wilson Waller, CEO Building Box

Wilson Waller, founder of Building Box, is getting involved with STEM education on a worldwide scale. His vision is to provide computer focused learning to underprivileged youth all across the planet through the development of his unique style of portable classrooms.

Talk about yourself and building box.

My name is Wilson Waller. I’m 25 years old, born in Memphis, TN, and the founder of Building Box. Building Box is company that designs and distributes portable STEM classrooms and Makerspaces within shipping containers. The containers are pre-fitted with everything a student needs to learn a variety of computer and engineering skills. Unlike normal portable classrooms, these boxes are highly cost efficient and can be easily shipped anywhere in world, meaning they can provide computer access, internet access, and education to those living in rural and underprivileged area.

What made you start building box?

Three and a half years ago, I moved to India to work with a non-profit. The Himalayan village had a lot of children who were interested in computers, but most had little access to electricity, internet, and computer hardware. I wanted to find a way for kids in similar situations to be able to work with computers and learn skills like coding and digital design, even when they are in such disconnected locations. I came up with the idea of creating classrooms in shipping containers, one of the most scalable and cost feasible way to provide portable learning environments on such a large scale, and so Building Box was born. After working with several engineers and nonprofits, the first classroom was created in the Himalayas.

How did you get involved with Start Co.?

My journey with Start Co. began in February of 2017 when I participated in the 48hr Hack-A-Thon event sponsored by Start Co. I pitched the concept and over the weekend I worked with some amazing people to create a business plan for Building Box. Afterwards, I applied for the summer accelerator program for social innovation at Start Co. called Sky High.  The program has been amazing and has helped me narrow down a business plan and build strategic relationships around Memphis and the country. The leadership and mentoring from Andre Fowlkes, President of Start Co., has been eye-opening. Alongside Start Co., other foundations have supported me in the creation of our first box in the United States of America, currently sitting downtown by the Mississippi River.

Inside the Building BoxWhat do you hope to have accomplished by the end of the year?

By the end of 2017, my goal is to have five accessible boxes across Memphis. After that, we will start working to send boxes all over the United States and the planet. These classrooms are not exclusive to a single area, they can benefit a lot of people and, due to their design, be accessible nearly anywhere.

What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t working as an entrepreneur?

If I wasn’t working as an entrepreneur, I am not quite sure what I would do. I’ve been starting businesses of my own since I was in college, so working with this kind of independence is all I’ve known. I love to travel and be outdoors so maybe I’d explore the world and become a writer.

What is the best advice you’ve been given?

Having a positive outlook and genuine concern for those around you and in your community can take you far. I believe that if you have the drive to create something great without the need for validation, you can get anywhere you want in life.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

I love to canoe and spend time with my friends and family. I’ve always liked being outdoors and staying active. Right now, I am having fun working with Start Co. and growing my business. I am extremely lucky for the opportunity Eric and Andre have given me with the accelerator program, so there is nothing I would rather be doing than developing Building Box, except maybe building 100 Boxes to send around the world.

BuildingBox.org • Facebook • Twitter • LinkedIn

Startup Spotlight: SILQ-EDU


Allison Sheppard Nokes, Co-Founder of SILQ-EDU, has been involved with youth education for over fifteen years.  The SILQ-EDU data dashboard allows principals and program coordinators to pinpoint students who need intervention by bridging disparate school data.

Allison Sheppard Nokes SILQ-EDU

Allison Sheppard Nokes, Co-Founder of SILQ-EDU

Q: Tell me about yourself and SILQ-EDU.

A: I am Allison Sheppard Nokes and I have been a teacher and administrator for fifteen years. SILQ-EDU is a data platform that helps schools merge their student information, and access it in a central location. The problem is that schools use multiple data systems for things such as assessments, behavior, attendance, and grades. Our dashboard system uses this complete information to plainly identify students who are in need of intervention. Principals and school leaders know that they have the expertise and access to services that can help prevent drop-outs. We streamline the process of identifying the kids who are most critically at-risk of dropping out so principals can intervene sooner.

Q: What is the inspiration behind SILQ-EDU?

A: I have a Master’s degree in Ed-Tech Integration. Even as a classroom teacher, other teachers came to me for help with computers and technology. So, I have years of experience with the vast offering of ed-tech products which exist. Most schools use an average of three or more platforms with which to generate student data. One main value that the SILQ-EDU dashboard provides to schools is the aggregation of all of the data because let’s face it, it’s hard to use data that is separated out into so many different systems. Also, my partner, Borhan Samei, is a data scientist finishing his Ph.D. at the University of Memphis.  Borhan is responsible for the technology behind the SILQ-EDU dashboard.

Q: What have you learned in the past year that will benefit SILQ-EDU in the upcoming year?

A: Watching Start Co. pool resources and gather people together has inspired my thoughts regarding working together. I think Memphis is on the verge of a great explosion of growth, but the only way we are going to reap sustaining benefits from this growth is by working together as a community. Start Co. is an entrepreneurial community, but it is also a community-building organization. As a native Memphian, I’m excited to see what all of the Start Co. Accelerator teams will accomplish.

Q:  What has been your favorite memory at Start Co. so far?

A: Start Q was so much fun! It allowed us to socialize and build camaraderie with the other founders. I also appreciated the mentorship with local and non-local entrepreneurs and investors.  Good food, good drinks, and good people is a good combination.

Q: How do you take advantage of your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses?

A: One of my strengths is the ability to communicate with people easily. I love interacting with others. Everyone has a little seed planted inside themselves which can allow them to change the world. I love helping people tap into their passions and watching them figure out how to best contribute to the world.

My weakness is being excited about everything – which can get me distracted from priorities. To combat this, I set reminders on my calendar to block out my schedule. It allows me to set aside time when I have to get things done.

Q: What is your finish line?

A: I’m never finished, whether that is working on SILQ-EDU or finding another way to create a positive change in the world. Every day, I have a handful of pebbles in my hand, and the world is a big pond in front of me. I want to make sure that every pebble I throw in the pond causes a good ripple effect. Whether SILQ-EDU will be the pebble that I work on forever or something else is to be seen. I am never finished.

Allison Sheppard Nokes is Co-Founder of SILQ-EDU, a data-dashboard providing complete insight to educators.


Startup Spotlight: Alwaz.Pro


Maurrean Barger envisions an internationally-recognized online career development platform which allows working-class professionals to demonstrate and promote their professional careers. This mission is materializing through her work as Founder and CEO of Alwaz.Pro.

Q: Tell me about yourself.

A: I’m Maurrean Barger, born and raised in Memphis, TN. I graduated from the University of Memphis with a degree in communications and graphic design. I have bought and sold media in Memphis for a long time.


Maurrean Barger, Founder and CEO of Alwaz.Pro

Q: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

A: Being a marketing consultant, I have worked for entrepreneurs and respect what they do: for putting everything on the line and having the ambition to take action instead of playing it safe. I admire the inspiration they have. For me, making that conversion was a pretty big deal. I have found a product, a hole in the market, and my passion.

Q: What led you to create Alwaz.Pro?

A: There is a host of [working class] people who are not being served. I think it’s unjust that when the internet was formed, somehow, we decided that if you are this class of person with a bachelor’s degree or higher, you can have those [professional] recommendations that follow you, but for those that don’t, those [professional] recommendations go to the employer, and I think that is unjust. The people who aren’t being served are the very backbone of our American economy and society.

Q: How has the Upstart Accelerator at Start Co. provided Alwaz.Pro a competitive edge?

A: The name Start Co. has a power and brand prestige to it. When I say I’m a member of the Start Co. accelerator program, that gets me instant clout with people.

Q: What is the most valuable thing you have learned in the program thus far?

A: How to cut out the clutter. How to communicate on point to the people I am speaking with.

Q: What are the challenges of running a startup? Perks?

A: The challenges are in a lot of ways the same as the perks– you are making your own future. You are forging your own path, which is scary. You can go to the zoo on a Friday afternoon but may be up until 2 AM that night working. It’s a matter of choosing your own destiny and what mark you’re going to leave on the world, on your kids, and on your family.

Q: Describe your leadership style.

A: I like being direct and straightforward. If I ask you to do something, I expect you to come back and tell me you got it done, why you did not get it done, or what your obstacles are so that you can get it done. I think it’s about working together and empowering people to perform the job and tasks in front of them.

Q: 90% of startups fail. What makes you the 10%?

A: I know that the 90% is not in my favor, but I can’t worry about odds. If I cared about odds, I wouldn’t be here. Everything is right for my product to take off and influence other people’s lives. Alwaz.Pro isn’t about me, it is about the people who are the heroes of our lives-those that take care of our parents while we work or protect us while at a ball game. These are the heroes. They need recognition and respect. That’s what Alwaz.Pro is about.

Q: Where do you see Alwaz.Pro in a year?

A: I think the platform will be much larger and stronger in the future. I want more people to know and use my product.

Q: What advice would you offer to an aspiring entrepreneur?

A: Make sure you have a support system that is willing to make sacrifices. Their sacrifice will be supporting you unconditionally while knowing that you won’t always be available to them. Also, don’t forget to workout. Block off time to stay active.

Q: Last question: What book are you reading right now?

A: Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares.

Maurrean Barger is CEO and Founder of Alwaz.Pro, an online career development platform for working-class professionals.

AlwazPro • LinkedIn • Twitter