Author Archives: Katie Milligan

Women’s focused startup weekend coming to Memphis

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(High Ground News) Memphis will play host to Startup Weekend: Women’s Edition, Nov. 7 – 9. Startup Weekends, an international series of weekend events to spur entrepreneurship, are facilitated by UPGlobal. As a Women’s Edition event, Memphis’ Startup Weekend will focus on showcasing the talents of aspiring female entrepreneurs. Developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts – both men and women – are encouraged to come together to form ideas, build products and launch startups.

The event will begin Friday with a barbecue dinner sponsored by Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous and a brief conversation with Laurie Tucker, former vice president of corporate marketing at FedEx. Participants will then have the opportunity to present their company ideas in a round of open mic, one-minute pitches and inspire other to join their team. The rest of the weekend will be spent validating these ideas, building business models, developing products and preparing team presentations to pitch ideas to a panel of judges Sunday evening. Teams will also have access to professional assistance and mentors from a wide variety of skill sets, including legal, marketing and public relations.

View the full article at High Ground News

Women’s Focused Startup Weekend Coming to Memphis Nov. 7-9

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WHAT:

Memphis will play host to Startup Weekend: Women’s Edition, Nov. 7 – 9. Startup Weekends, an international series of weekend events to spur entrepreneurship, are facilitated by UPGlobal. As a Women’s Edition event, Memphis’ Startup Weekend will focus on showcasing the talents of aspiring female entrepreneurs. Developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts – both men and women – are encouraged to come together to form ideas, build products and launch startups.

The event will begin Friday with a barbecue dinner sponsored by Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous and a brief conversation with Laurie Tucker, former vice president of corporate marketing at FedEx. Participants will then have the opportunity to present their company ideas in a round of open mic, one-minute pitches and inspire other to join their team. The rest of the weekend will be spent validating these ideas, building business models, developing products and preparing team presentations to pitch ideas to a panel of judges Sunday evening. Teams will also have access to professional assistance and mentors from a wide variety of skill sets, including legal, marketing and public relations.

Memphis is one of only 20 cities hosting the special Women’s Edition event, selected because of its track record in supporting the growth of women-led startups, demonstrated in part by the Start Co. Upstart accelerator program. The event is being sponsored by Google for Entrepreneurs, The Commercial Appeal, Cowork Memphis and goEmerchant.

To sign up for Memphis’ Startup Weekend, please visit www.neverstop.co/startupweekend.

WHEN/WHERE:

November 7 – 9, 2014

Start Co.

88 Union Ave., 2nd Floor

Memphis, TN 38103

 ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Start Co. is a nationally recognized nonprofit 501(c)(3) Memphis-based venture development organization 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 is currently working with JumpStart, Inc. to advance Memphis’ economic growth through entrepreneurship. The organization is supported by partners including archer>malmo, Baker Donelson, The Marston Group, Orion Federal Credit Union, Mosaik Solutions and Softlayer (an IBM company).  More information can be found at neverstop.co.

For additional information please contact Liz Hamilton, archer>malmo for Start Co., at (901) 260-4168, lhamilton@archermalmo.com.

Selling for Social Ventures

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Tech startups aren’t the only ones who have to sell.  Social ventures spend a significant amount of time onboarding partners and resources to benefit their efforts. This is some insight into how to go about selling your socially impactful work.

Step 1: Clearly know and live your beliefs.

As Simon Sinek states: “The why is more important than the what.” If you don’t know how your program is different from other programs and if you don’t live out your beliefs, you won’t be able to articulate them with high fidelity to your future sponsors/partners.  As a result of your program’s culture and beliefs, some partners will be a good fit for your program’s cultures and beliefs. Some won’t.  That’s Okay.  All this is to say that what you believe and what your partners believe need to align.

Step 2: Understand Partner Motivations

Let’s flip it around. What are the motivations and desired outcomes that program sponsors have?  Here is what we have uncovered:

  1. a) Shared Beliefs/Altruism — They believe what you believe.
  2. b) Brand Equity/Association — They wish to associate their brand with aspects of your program to enhance their brand and position.
  3. c) Recruitment — Partners communicate to future employees their commitment to socially impactful initiatives, which is a selling point in recruiting new talent.
  4. d) Retention — Partner organizations are able to provide their employees the opportunity to participate in your work in building or supporting the future and betterment of its community.
  5. e) Continuing Education/Exposure to the future — Let’s face it, some jobs are not going to expose employees to diverse views, skills and knowledge. Through partnership, organizations are able to expose their employees to new ideas and opportunities to enhance their skill sets.
  6. f) Loss leader — Participation now will give partners early opportunities for relationship building which may prove valuable to a sponsor in the future.

Step 3: Getting to Yes

Part 1: Go to where your future sponsors are and get to know them as people. Travel to conferences; Attend their events and lunches; Look for informal opportunities where trusted relationships begin — opportunities where people can be who they really, truly are. Simultaneously, ask what they believe and explaining what you believe. Look for clues and hints about other motivations and desired outcomes and determine whether a more formal relationship is a good cultural fit.

Part 2a: Earn the right to ask. Don’t ask for the moon. Ask for something small, even as small as visiting your offices. If you successfully deliver on those items and they get to know your culture and beliefs, then look into partnering to a greater extent and building a trusting relationship where partners will want to support you more — you will earned the right to expand your relationship.

Part 2b: Don’t ask blindly. Tailor your asks to your partners, noting their motivations and desired outcomes.  Is mentoring important?  Do they want their employees engaged?  Do they need a more tangible economic return now or in the future or ever?

Part 3: Do what you say you’re going to do — fulfilling the original agreement. Deliver and report results openly and honestly and look to the future of the relationship.

Finally here are some practical tips/tactical items as part of the sell:

1) Take the first risk: Travel to meet people where they are and support their travel to you as needed for relationship building.  If possible, prove things out with your own money so that others can see the promise of your work. Once your work is prototyped, then you have earned the right to ask.

2) Be patient: It could take months, even years, to move from the first meeting to asking for more meaningful support. Build the relationship for alignment and it will be lasting.

3) Showing is better than telling: Whenever possible have your partners witness your work firsthand, whether that means inviting them to your space and events or bringing your results on trips so partners can see first hand how your beliefs manifest. It is expensive at times but witnessing your work is powerful.

4) Two ROIs: There is the Return on Investment and the Return on Involvement.  Focus on involvement.


Hillary Quirk is the Community Manager at Start Co.  Contact her at info@neverstop.co

Start Co. Announces Partnership with SendGrid

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We are happy to announce a new Start Co. partner, SendGrid.

SendGrid, founded in 2009 after graduating from the TechStars program, has developed a cloud-based service that solves the challenge of email delivery by delivering emails on behalf of companies. SendGrid eliminates the complexity of sending email, saving time and money, while providing reliable delivery to the inbox.

SendGrid is the world’s largest Email Infrastructure as a Service provider.  Their email delivery service moves 2% of the world’s non-spam email (over 13 billion emails / month) for more than 150,000 companies including technology leaders like Pinterest, Spotify, and Uber.  SendGrid boosts email deliverability skills with best practice guides, videos, webinars and documentation.

SendGrid helps startups make sure their important email gets delivered.  It allows them to send transactional email without having to maintain email servers.  SendGrid manages all of the technical details; from scaling the infrastructure to ISP outreach and reputation monitoring to whitelist services and real time analytics.

As part of our partnership SendGrid will offer the startups in our Accelerator Program access to the SendGrid Accelerate program. As part of the program, they are entitled to 12 months of SendGrid’s Gold Package (up to 300,000 emails/month) absolutely free. In addition to free email credits, our startups will be able to connect to SendGrid mentors to gain access to their best practices and knowledge.

We would like to thank SendGrid for their support of Start Co. and our startups.

Local Tech Startup Growth On Right Path

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(Memphis Daily) More than 500 Memphis business leaders, investors, entrepreneurs and innovators gathered at the Orpheum Theatre in late August, but they weren’t there for the latest show from Broadway.

They convened to participate in Start Co. Demo Day, when 15 innovative startups from a variety of sectors unveiled their products.

Half of the teams came from outside Memphis to spend 100 days at Start Co. this summer launching their startups. Several have relocated to Memphis full-time, and a few are on track to raise investment capital.

It has been a long road to get to this juncture. While our early experiments in building technology startups began over eight years ago, since then the innovation landscape has improved dramatically thanks to the efforts of many in our community.

Notable milestones include the creation of a new venture fund (Innova), the creation of five accelerator programs (Seed Hatchery, ZeroTo510, Sparkgap, Upstart, and Sky High), the creation of angel funds and networks, the creation of Co-Work Memphis, and even civic change with the creation of the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team.

Read the full article at The Daily News

Four Memphis Companies Join The TENN

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(Memphis Daily) Launch Tennessee has picked this year’s crop of 10 companies that will participate in The TENN, its master accelerator program for graduates of Tennessee’s nine startup accelerators.

And, like last year, Memphis companies again represent almost half of the statewide batch of companies taking part in the program.

The TENN, sponsored by UBS, launched in 2013 and will help its participating companies and entrepreneurs kick their efforts up a notch through a variety of benefits and program features.

Participants, for example, will get to work with mentors, get business management training and participate in learning days on business topics like marketing, financial management and operations.

Also as part of their work with The TENN, the company teams will travel throughout Tennessee to meet executives at top corporations during a weeklong road show and will fly out to California and New York for networking trips.

View the full article at The Daily News

4 Memphis firms picked for state’s business accelerator

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(Commercial Appeal) Launch Tennessee said four Memphis startups are among the 10 companies statewide selected for The TENN, a program intended to scale up firms that have come through Tennessee’s nine startup accelerators.

Launch Tennessee is an economic developer funded by private and state government donations. The Memphis firms selected are:

eDivv, a market to negotiate, barter and trade beauty sample products.

EndoInSight, designer of a disposable CO2 insufflation system for less-painful colonoscopy.

GraphStory, which provides data analysis products.

Play-Tag, which produces wireless technology for dog owners.

The four are graduates of a pair of Memphis business accelerators. EndoSight came through ZeroTo510, while the others graduated from Start Co.

Read the full article at the Commercial Appeal

From Hungary to Memphis, entrepreneur follows long road to launch company

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(Memphis Business Journal) Virag Reti, co-founder of Cabsolutely, has literally come a long way to get her company off the ground.

A native of Hungary, Reti and her co-founder, Andras Simon, came to Memphis this spring to participate in Start Co.’s Upstart Accelerator. And after completing the program last month, Cabsolutely has entered into a partnership with Premier Transportation, Yellow and Checker Cab to utilize its technology. The company is currently developing a consumer app that allows passengers to order a taxi through their smartphones, track the vehicles, process mobile payment and provide feedback on drivers and their experience. It will begin with a local launch and plans to expand regionally over the course of the year.

Read the full article at Memphis Business Journal

Start Co. Post-Acceleration Efforts Help Startups

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(Memphis Daily) Graduation from a Start Co. startup accelerator and making a pitch to investors at the organization’s “Demo Day” is no longer the last stage to cross before entrepreneurs head out into the wild to sink or swim.

The entrepreneurship organization has now set up a post-acceleration program, and as part of that program graduating cohort members can participate in workshops and teaching sessions to help them build out the next phase of their business plans and better align themselves for follow-on funding rounds. That new program is specifically designed for founders to build the skills they need to succeed after “Demo Day,” which marks the end of Start Co.’s accelerator programs and sees entrepreneurs make their pitch for funding to carry their ventures to the next level.

The new program, which kicked off Sept. 5 at Start Co.’s Downtown Start Lab, aims to help founders who recently graduated from one of Start Co.’s four accelerator programs – Seed Hatchery, Upstart, Sky High and SparkGap.

Read the full article at The Daily News

Start Co. Post-Acceleration Program Moves Founders from Launch to Operation

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Workshops and teaching sessions offer education and resources post-Demo Day

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Sept. 8, 2014) – Start Co. today announced its new post-acceleration program specifically designed for founders to build the additional skills needed to succeed after Demo Day through to product and business success.  The program kicked off September 5th at the Start Co. Start Lab in downtown Memphis.

The program aims to help founders that recently graduated from one of Start Co.’s four accelerator programs to build out the next phase of their business plans and better align themselves for follow-on funding rounds. It consists of Friday office hours with key Memphis business partners and the Start Co. team, business development preparation sessions, workshops, lunch-and-learns and investment strategy sessions that include insight on investor and term sheet development.

“This program is a critical stepping stone for new founders to transition from startup stage to an operating business,” said Eric Mathews, Start Co. Founder and CEO. “We’ve recognized that ongoing education and support, access to capital and our pool of mentors and resources each play a critical role in determining post-acceleration success.”

Members of the Start Co. 2014 graduating cohort participating in the post-acceleration program have their own designated working spaces in the Start Lab and are each expected to deliver weekly stakeholder updates to the team. The program also helps teams pre-plan investor meetings, secure introductions and debrief after investor meetings.

Applications for 2015 Start Co. accelerator programming, which has been internationally recognized by the Global Accelerator Network, will open in October. All four accelerators will again run simultaneously through the summer in downtown Memphis, allowing participants to interact with the downtown business community, including many mentors and partners.

In addition to the post-acceleration program, Start Co. is offering other experiences to new founders entering the entrepreneurial ecosystem.  On Sept. 26 and Oct. 29, special office hours will be held at the Memphis Public Library focusing on customer discovery and social innovation, respectively.

Start Co. is also hosting a special women’s edition of Startup Weekend Sept. 12 – 14, a weekend series focused on showcasing the talents of aspiring female entrepreneurs. Founders interested in next year’s accelerator programming may find Startup Weekend to be a beneficial tool in honing their pitches and determining their readiness for an accelerator program. Those interested can register for the event at www.up.co/communities/usa/memphis-tn-usa/startup-weekend/3737.

About Start Co.

Start Co. is a nationally recognized nonprofit 501(c)(3) Memphis-based venture development organization that relentlessly builds founders and companies, promoting entrepreneurship for everyone with a focus on digital startups. Start Co. is a member of theGlobal Accelerator Networkand is currently working withJumpStart, Inc.to advance Memphis’ economic growth through entrepreneurship. The organization is supported by partners includingarcher>malmo,Baker Donelson,The Marston Group, Orion Federal Credit Union,Mosaik Solutions and Softlayer (an IBM company).  More information can be found at neverstop.co.