Author Archives: Claire Coulter

Upstart Accelerator graduate Feather raises $250K in follow on funding

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More than $15 million in funding raised for Start Co. client and portfolio teams since 2011

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (March 9, 2016) – Start Co., a member of the Global Accelerator Network that operates industry-specific accelerators each summer, today announced a new $250,000 investment for Feather, a women-founded online service that helps families find, hire and manage quality in-home care for seniors. Feather, formerly CareCurrent, graduated from the 2015 Start Co. Upstart accelerator program.

The investment comes from Hayseed Ventures, a Fayetteville, Ark. based venture capital firm that focuses on turning startups into thriving businesses through a combination of capital and mentorship to help those early stage companies develop profitable online customer acquisition strategies. Hayseed Ventures was founded by John James, M.D., a serial entrepreneur who has built half a dozen consumer internet companies, most notably raising over $100 million in venture capital as Founder and CEO of Acumen Brands.

“We are proud that startups like Feather have grown post acceleration by connecting with the right resources and partners necessary to raise their next round of funding,” said Mara Lewis, managing director for Accelerators at Start Co. “Feather is a success story from our women-led accelerator program and stands as an important example of the startup momentum happening in Memphis and the broader women-in-tech movement.”

Feather plans to use the investment to scale their operation in Fayetteville, Ark. and further optimize service delivery to seniors and those family members that care for them. The company’s software matches screened caregivers with families based on the needs and interests of seniors providing a higher quality experience at a lower price.  Feather currently offers service in Tennessee and Arkansas with plans to expand to the rest of the MidSouth and Delta Region in 2016. The company was founded by Rachel Fuller with cofounders, Nick Fuller and Evan Black, and now includes Christopher Williams as CFO.

“As a former practicing physician, I recognize a tremendous problem with the quality of in home care,” said John James, M.D. the Founder and CEO of Hayseed Ventures. “Feather has an innovative solution to solve the continuity of care problem that plagues the industry. We are excited to make an investment in Feather and work closely with their team to build a platform that will almost certainly revolutionize the industry.”

Feather has maintained offices at the Start Lab and participated in Start Co.’s post accelerator program since Demo Day in August 2015 including business development preparation sessions and various other workshops and strategy sessions led by Start Co. to help them prepare for investor meetings and term sheet development. Since 2011, the Start Co. team has helped its post-accelerator client and portfolio companies raise just more than $15 million, inclusive of Feather’s latest round.

Rachel Fuller cites Start Co. and her experiences with Upstart as one of the key reasons they quickly progressed to secure this latest round of funding. Fuller said, “The team at Start Co. has helped us prepare for this next level of investment by providing mentorship, networking guidance and business plan development. We are so grateful to have the support and guidance of both the Start Co. team and the Memphis startup ecosystem, and are excited that Hayseed Ventures has invested in us so we can expand our business in the Mid-South and Delta in the coming year.”

Start Co. will run simultaneous accelerators during Summer 2016 focusing on technology (Seed Hatchery), social impact (Sky High) and women-led tech (Upstart) in Downtown Memphis beginning May 2, 2016. The programming includes streamlined integration of resources and mentorship for all founders and teams participating in the 100-day program and will feature mentorship, weekly training sessions, business development, cohort reporting sessions and actionable milestones.

About Start Co.:

Start Co. is a nationally recognized nonprofit 501(c)(3) venture development organization based in Memphis, Tennessee, that relentlessly builds founders and companies, promoting entrepreneurship for everyone with a focus on digital startups. Start Co. is a member of the Global Accelerator Network and aims to advance Memphis’ economic growth through entrepreneurship. The organization is supported by partners including American Airlines, Archer Malmo, Baker Donelson, The Marston Group, Mosaik Solutions and Softlayer (an IBM company).  More information can be found at neverstop.co.

Start Co. accelerator graduate Preteckt raises $300K

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Seed Hatchery 2015 graduate introduces predictive vehicle maintenance technology

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Feb. 2, 2016) – Start Co., a member of the Global Accelerator Network operating industry-specific accelerators each summer, today announced a new $300,000 capital raise for Seed Hatchery graduate startup Preteckt, a vehicle maintenance technology that monitors the health of commercial trucking fleets. This investment continues the Start Co. tradition of bringing together talent, investors and ecosystem support for startup success.

“Preteckt has demonstrated an exceptional ability to scale and poise their business for success,” said Eric Mathews, CEO and founder of Start Co. “We are proud to accelerate a logistics startup, as this is such an important industry for our Memphis economy.”

Preteckt was founded in Toronto by Peter Bassa, Sasha Kucharczyk and Ken Sills and is the first smart vehicle technology for fleets and drivers. The Preteckt software monitors all parts of a truck to predict specific part failure up to 30 days in advance, decreasing vehicle downtime by 30 percent. By avoiding the situations that cause unplanned downtime, trucks can be on the road longer and create more revenue. Most recently, the company finalized a contract for TransCarriers to implement the tracking software into their fleets across the U.S., increasing vehicle uptime by 3.3 percent and increasing profits by more than 35 percent.

“We’re so eager to bring our technology to new and existing customers in the coming months, helping them harness critical fleet data to reduce costs and maximize efficiency,” said Peter Bassa, CEO and co-founder of Preteckt. “This round of funding will help us expand our reach to provide even more technology capabilities and build upon our business model for continued success.”

As part of the post-acceleration program, since Demo Day Preteckt has maintained weekly office hours at the Start Lab, attended business development preparation sessions and various other workshops and strategy sessions led by Start Co. to help them prepare for investor meetings and term sheet development. Coupled with this round of funding, the Start Co. team helped its client and portfolio companies raise just over $13 million since 2011.

The Seed Hatchery, Sky High and Upstart accelerators will again run simultaneously through the summer in Downtown Memphis beginning May 2, 2016, allowing for streamlined integration of resources and mentorship for all founders and teams participating in the 100-day program. Programming this year will feature mentorship, weekly training sessions, business development, cohort reporting sessions and actionable milestones. More information and applications for all three programs are available at neverstop.co through March 1, 2016.

About Start Co.:

Start Co. is a nationally recognized nonprofit 501(c)(3) venture development organization based in Memphis, Tennessee, that relentlessly builds founders and companies, promoting entrepreneurship for everyone with a focus on digital startups. Start Co. is a member of the Global Accelerator Network and aims to advance Memphis’ economic growth through entrepreneurship. The organization is supported by partners including American Airlines, Archer Malmo, Baker Donelson, The Marston Group, Mosaik Solutions and Softlayer (an IBM company).  More information can be found at neverstop.co.

About Preteckt:

Preteckt was founded in Toronto in 2014 by an astrophysicist (Ken Sills), a designer (Peter Bassa) and a robotics engineer (Sasha Kucharczyk). The company has since moved its operations to Memphis, Tennessee, and has leveraged its combined talents in machine learning, customer discovery and business strategy to develop a product that allows trucking fleets to optimize their operations and minimize costs by predicting part failure up to 30 days in advance. Preteckt is online at preteckt.com and on Twitter @Preteckt.

Winners Announced from Pre-Seed Pitch Competition

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Thanks to everyone who submitted their 90-second video in Start Co.’s first Pre-Seed Pitch Competition. There were tons of great ideas and we encourage everyone to continue working on and building their startups.  We had 6 different prizes and are excited to announce the winners:

1st Place: SnapSitter from Austin, TX

  • $1,000 Cash
  • 1 Hour Meeting with Jan Bouten, Partner at Innova Ventures
  • Finalist in the Start Co. Accelerator applications
  • Promotion via our social networks

Check out their pitch:

Runner-up: Game Time Giving from Dallas, TX

  • $200 Amex Giftcard

Solving the Biggest Problem: One Body Medical from Memphis, TN

  • $150 Amex Giftcard

Strongest Team: Addicaid from New York

  • $100 Amex Giftcard

Most Enthusiastic Presentation: EPK Page from Memphis, TN

  • $50 Amex Giftcard

Best Memphis-Based Pitch (Sponsored by OPS-FUEL): Front Desk Connect

  • 2 Tickets to the Memphis Grizzlies Game

Also, we’re accepting accelerator applications through March 1st so apply today! Click here for more information or reach out to us at info@neverstop.co

 

Pre-Seed Pitch Competition

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We want to hear about your startups, so we’ve created a video pitch contest. Win $1,000 cash for your technology startup by entering a short, 90-second pitch. Don’t know if you can win the grand prize? We also have prizes for the “Strongest Team” and “Most Enthusiastic Presentation” so check out the details below.

Description: The Pre-Seed Pitch Competition aims to encourage entrepreneurs with idea stage technology startups.

Prizes:

1st Place

  • $1,000 Cash
  • 1 Hour Meeting with Jan Bouten, Partner at Innova Ventures
  • Finalist in the Start Co. Accelerator applications
  • Promotion via our social networks

Most Creative Pitch

  • $200 Amex Gift Card

Solving The Biggest Problem

  • $150 Facebook Ad Credits

Strongest Team

  • $100 Facebook Ad Credits

Most Enthusiastic Presentation

  • $50 Starbucks Gift Card

Best Memphis-Based Pitch – Sponsored by OPS-FUEL

  • 2 tickets to a Memphis Grizzlies Game Section 103 (valued at $280)

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

Watch The Elevator Pitch

Eligibility: Must be a technology driven startup that is bootstrapped or has raised less than $100K from non-institutional VCs

Entry Deadline: February 15th, 2016 at 11:59 PM

Click here to apply!

Contest is limited to 250 submissions

 

If People Are The Hardware, Culture Is The Software

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With this post we want to give you a feel for what it is like to be a part of the startup community in Memphis, and more specifically, the Start Co. accelerators.

Welcome to Start Co.

Our Culture in Action:

It wouldn’t be a Memphis without blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and BBQ.  At Start Co. we take full advantage of the natural assets of our community to make sure our founders, partners, and investors experience the true flavor of Memphis with unique events and networking opportunities.

Start-Q is hosted during The World Championship of Bar-B-Que in Memphis TN.  With National Office Hours, pitch competitions, and BBQ, we draw national partners and supporters such as Amazon Web Services, American Airlines, PayPal BrainTree, Softlayer, and more to Memphis to support the regional growth of startup ecosystem.

Start Co. Lounge is a monthly gathering of fellow innovators, investors, developers, designers, accelerator alumni, and many other business leaders in the community for an evening of drinks, good conversation, and creative collisions.

48 Hour Launch is a weekend long event where veteran, and first time, entrepreneurs come together to identify potential startup businesses and build them in just 48 hours.  Sound intense?  It is.  80-100 people are working around the clock to build new innovations that solve problems, while simultaneously building community.  You will find our accelerator alumni giving back and mentoring new generations of entrepreneurs at these events each year.

Our Space:

Start Co. Lab is ground zero for our accelerators, workshops, training sessions, and more. Each startup receives a dedicated workstation to accommodate their team and setup homebase. The accelerator co-working space is sealed away from other event space at Start Co., allowing teams to leave their things behind each night without the fear of them being disturbed.

Accessible 24/7, our newly renovated 7800+ sq ft office provides plenty of room for big ideas to grow. And our location in the core of downtown Memphis offers limitless walkable options for dining, entertainment, off-site work, and housing.  In addition, we offer a formal board room, mid-sized conference room, and other breakout spaces for whiteboarding, conference calls, and customer meetings. There is even a walk out patio and grill for working and relaxing outside.

Meet Our Founders:

As members of the Global Accelerator Network, we have benchmarked our program against the best in the world.  Start Co. is admired for the hands-on nature of the business and technical assistance that is supplied to our startups during the accelerator, and the months following it.  But you don’t have to take our word for it.  Here are quotes, and videos, from our founders on their experience and what surprised them the most about going through an accelerator.

“Upstart was the most valuable personal and professional experience I’ve ever had. I learned more in 3 months than I did in 3 years of law school.” – Rachel Fuller, Feather (Upstart ’15)

“Bring all you have to the table. Start Co. will pour gasoline on it and light your idea on fire.” – Jessica Buffington, FrontDoor (Upstart ’15)

“It’s not just business-changing… it’s life-changing.” – Ken Sills, Preteckt (Seed Hatchery ’15)

“The curriculum is rigorous and rewarding. Oftentimes, the feedback is tough but because of it, you’ll be well-equipped, if not over-prepared once you graduate.” – Aaron Fitzgerald, Ncrease (Seed Hatchery ’15)

Preteckt relocated from Canada to Memphis, the distribution and logistics capital of the world, to build their hardware and software company that predicts long-haul truck breakdowns before they happen. Peter Bassa, CEO & Co-Founder of Preteckt, shares what surprised him about Start Co. after going through our 2015 Seed Hatchery Accelerator.

FrontDoor (formerly MLSMyNest) is disrupting the real estate industry by providing home sellers with full-service agent for a flat fee of $1500.  Jessica Buffington, CEO & Co-Founder, shares what surprised her about Start Co. after going through our women-led accelerator program in 2015.

The Ncrease team moved from Los Angeles and Washington, DC to build their startup in Memphis.  The CEO & Founder of Ncrease, Aaron Fitzgerald, was surprised by the intensity of the programming in the accelerator program.  Learn more about his experience here:

DivorceSecure is a company that not only took advantage of the accelerator program at Start Co. but also took full advantage of startup programming at Start Co. before the program began to position for success.  The CEO & Founder of DivorceSecure, Hirsch Serman, shares why you should think about taking advantage of the programming.

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

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Each year we release our applications for our highly competitive accelerator programs.  Our founder, Eric Mathews, wrote two posts previously with macro and micro level application tips here (Fierce, Flexible and Functioning) and here (Application Tips).  With this post I wanted to tell how you can stand out over others during application screening.  

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

  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.  Are you a fit? We run 3 consecutive accelerators each year so make sure you apply to the appropriate one: Seed Hatchery for B2B tech startups; Upstart for women-led tech startups; and Sky High for social innovation startups.  

  1. Turn it in!

Remember that the application is only first step of many towards getting into our programs.  Don’t get hung up on perfection to the point you don’t submit something.  Just click submit and do it by March 1st.  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.  

Here’s the link to apply neverstop.co/accelerators.

 


Claire Coulter is the Program Coordinator at Start Co.  Contact her at info@neverstop.co

Start Co. opens applications for its sixth round of accelerator programs

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Organization seeking B2B and social innovation startups; teams in Seed Hatchery and Upstart programs to receive $25,000 of investment capital

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Nov. 9, 2015) – Start Co. today announced that it is accepting applications for its Seed Hatchery (enterprise technology), Upstart (women-led technology) and Sky High (social innovation) accelerators. This year the Start Co. Angels and Innova Memphis will continue their partnership to provide $25,000 of investment capital into teams accepted in the Seed Hatchery and Upstart programs.  As a Global Accelerator Network (GAN) member, Start Co. teams this year will also be considered by a new venture fund designated for investment exclusively into GAN programs.

“We’re thrilled to continue offering our accelerator teams access to the tools and resources needed to help them grow their valuations and rapidly progress their ideas,” said Eric Mathews, CEO and co-founder of Start Co. “We’re building on success from the previous two years to continue developing our programs to provide the best possible curriculum for our teams.”

Start Co. is looking for B2B technology startup founders who are passionate, flexible, coachable and execution-oriented.  Their startups should be unique, have high-growth potential and exhibit a national or global reach. Those interested in applying can find more information and applications at neverstop.co. Applications will close March 1, 2016 and those accepted will begin their entrepreneurial journeys at the Start Lab May 2, 2016.

The three accelerator programs will again run simultaneously over the summer, allowing for streamlined integration of resources and mentorship for all founders and teams participating in the 100-day program. Accelerator programming this year will feature mentorship, weekly training sessions, business development, cohort reporting sessions and actionable milestones. Start Co. business partners and accelerator mentors include American Airlines, Archer Malmo, Baker Donelson, The Marston Group, Mosaik Solutions, Softlayer (an IBM company), Springboard Enterprises and more.

“Our programming is unique in that mentor and investor participation is critical from day one, enabling founders to receive the important feedback needed to build their business models quickly and correctly,” continued Mathews.

After Demo Day in August, graduated teams are expected to continue to build their businesses while receiving post-acceleration support for at least another three months. Select alumni teams are also invited to participate in an annual investor day and technology tour in San Francisco in October; this year’s trip included 11 alumni startups. Additionally, graduate startups DivorceSecure, LendMed and Preteckt have recently been accepted into the 2015-16 class of Launch Tennessee’s “The TENN” virtual post-acceleration program, which began Oct. 21 and is comprised of the best startup companies from Tennessee’s nine startup accelerators.

Since 2011, Start Co. graduates have received investment of over $12.7M. For more information about Start Co. portfolio and client companies, and to apply for accelerator programming, please visit neverstop.co.

About Start Co.

Start Co. is a nationally recognized nonprofit 501(c)(3) venture development organization based in Memphis, Tennessee, that relentlessly builds founders and companies, promoting entrepreneurship for everyone with a focus on digital startups. Start Co. is a member of the Global Accelerator Network and aims to advance Memphis’ economic growth through entrepreneurship. The organization is supported by partners including American Airlines, Archer Malmo, Baker Donelson, The Marston Group, Mosaik Solutions and Softlayer (an IBM company).  More information can be found at neverstop.co.

 

Start Co. hosting annual 48-Hour Launch Nov. 20 – 22

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WHAT:

Start Co. is hosting its annual 48-Hour Launch event at its office space Downtown Nov. 20 – 22.

Approximately 100 individuals with varying backgrounds will come together to pitch ideas, form teams, and build a startup in merely 48 hours.  Sound intense?  It is.  Each formed team will present its business to the Memphis community Sunday, Nov. 22, at 3:30p.m. A panel of judges will award prizes including a first place prize of $500 cash, 10 hours of mentoring with a Start Co. team member and a three-month co-working membership at Start Co. for two people (a $2,000 value). Program leaders and event participants are available for interviews upon request.

  • 48-Hour Launch is a community-focused event in which individuals can jumpstart their business plans in the span of just a weekend. Tickets are $15 and those interested can sign up here.
  • Attendees will each have two minutes to pitch their business ideas beginning at 6 p.m. Friday (Nov. 20), where the most popular ideas will then be selected to move forward to form teams.
  • Teams will have access to professional assistance from Start Co. partners including Archer Malmo, Baker Donelson, The Marston Group and Mosaik Solutions.

Start Co. also recently sponsored TechCamp Memphis Nov. 7 in coordination with Capital C, a professional-level code school in Memphis aiming to begin classes in 2016. A one-day event offering educational and networking opportunities for technology users at all levels, TechCamp included sessions led by area experts on content creation and design, online marketing and development. Both Start Co. and Capital C presented sessions.

 

WHEN/WHERE:

Nov. 20 6 p.m. – Nov. 22 6 p.m.

Start Co.

88 Union Ave., 2nd Floor

Memphis, Tennessee 38103

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Start Co. is a nationally recognized nonprofit 501(c)(3) venture development organization based in Memphis, Tennessee, that relentlessly builds founders and companies, promoting entrepreneurship for everyone with a focus on digital startups. Start Co. is a member of the Global Accelerator Network and aims to advance Memphis’ economic growth through entrepreneurship. The organization is supported by partners including American Airlines, Archer Malmo, Baker Donelson, The Marston Group, Mosaik Solutions and Softlayer (an IBM company).  More information can be found at neverstop.co.

2016 Accelerator Applications are OPEN

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We’ve released applications for our three 2016 Summer Accelerators:

As a participant in our program you’ll have access to world-class mentors, hands-on programming, and $25,000 in seed funding that will help you build a killer startup.  You’ll do a deep dive into your business and product strategy, learn to understand your KPI’s for growth, and perfect your investment pitches.  You’ll also build your professional network through events like Start-Q and Memphis Demo Day, forming the relationships you need to scale your business.

Since 2011, Start Co. portfolio companies have raised over $12.3M in funding, and graduates from our accelerators leave with the skills, confidence, and traction they need to take their companies to the next level. But you don’t have to take our word for it, just ask some of our 2015 startups;

“Upstart was the most valuable personal and professional experience I’ve ever had. I learned more in 3 months than I did in 3 years of law school.” – Rachel Fuller, CEO, Feather (Upstart ’15)

“Bring all you have to the table. Start Co. will pour gasoline on it and light your idea on fire.” – Jessica Buffington, MLSmyNest (Upstart ’15)

“It’s not just business-changing… it’s life-changing.” – Ken Sills, Preteckt (Seed Hatchery ’15)

“The curriculum is rigorous and rewarding. Oftentimes, the feedback is tough but because of it, you’ll be well-equipped, if not over-prepared once you graduate.” – Aaron Fitzgerald, CEO, Ncrease (Seed Hatchery ’15)

So who are we looking for?

  • Founders that are passionate, flexible and execution oriented
  • Teams with the necessary technical talent and business know-how
  • Ideas that are solving a real problem (not just building a cool technology)
  • Leaders that are willing to go all in and embrace the risky business of starting up

Do you have what it takes? Apply by March 1st or reach out to us at info@neverstop.co with any questions.

Program Dates May 2nd – August 11th

 

For Tips on Applying Checkout These Posts:

Fierce Flexible and Functioning

8 Accelerator Application Tips

Musistic Brings Musicians Together

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(Memphis Daily) This is the fifth in a five-part series on the four businesses and one alternate chosen as fellows in the Delta Regional Authority’s Delta Entrepreneurship Network.

Jimbo Lattimore

(Courtesy of Delta Regional Authority)

Imagine being an artist who wants to collaborate with another musician who lives five states away or even on another continent.

The logistics of recording together is a nightmare at best, and impossible to get together at worst. Jimbo Lattimore and the other founders of Musistic saw the problem firsthand and realized a solution was possible.

They created Musistic, a music collaboration platform that allows musicians to record with anyone in the world on any platform. They created a plugin that is a tool that runs inside recording software.

View the full article in The Daily News