Author Archives: Katie Milligan

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.

Start Co. recieves SBA funding

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(Memphis Business Journal) Memphis-based Start Co. is one of several national small business accelerators to receive a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration, receiving $50,000 from the organization.

Start Co., which recently completed the latest classes of its Seed Hatchery, Upstart, Sky High and Spark Gap small business accelerators, was selected from a pool of 800 applications from 31 states to receive the funds.

“The SBA is empowering accelerators and startups that are on the cutting edge of successful, innovative new endeavors,” said Maria Contreras-Sweet, SBA administrator. “We’ve seen the enormous success of the accelerator model in communities like Silicon Valley. We believe we can export this type of sophisticated support structure across the country to help startups become commercially viable and create jobs more quickly. I want SBA to stand for ‘Smart, Bold and Accessible,’ and these accelerators encompass all three of these goals.”

View the full article at the Memphis Business Journal

Start Co. breeding success stories

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(Memphis Business Journal) Entrepreneurs from throughout the world came to Memphis three months ago to learn how to turn their new business ideas into reality. On Aug. 21, they got one step closer to realizing their dreams when they completed the Start Co. accelerator program by pitching their business concepts to investors during the Start Co. Demo Day at the Orpheum Theatre.

Half of the 16 entrepreneur teams hail from outside of Shelby County, including startup hot spots Silicon Valley and New York City, as well as Hungary, Canada and the Netherlands. Historically, 70 percent of Start Co. graduates stay in Memphis, which means the city itself benefits from Start Co.’s work, not just the entrepreneurs the program serves.

Start Co.’s four cohort programs provide budding business owners more than 200 hours of technical and business assistance, connections to mentors, access to business resources and $15,000 in seed funding. In other words, the programs provide a significant head start on the road to business success.

Read the full article at the Memphis Business Journal

Start Co. Demo Day Teams Announce Funding, Partnerships and Progress

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Seven of the 15 teams reported revenue after the 100-day accelerator

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Aug. 21, 2014) – Start Co. Demo Day, sponsored by Launch Tennessee, the Downtown Memphis Commission, Softlayer and PayPal, brought together more than 500 people involved in the local startup eco-system, including the teams, investors from the Mid-South and as far away as Singapore, mentors, members of the business and nonprofit communities, government and local companies such as FedEx, AutoZone, Mosaik Solutions and others to celebrate innovation and the startup movement in Memphis.

Each of the 15 teams that participated in this summer’s intensive 14-week startup training and mentoring program, presented their ideas and the group. Attendees also heard from keynote speaker, the Honorable Edward B. Montgomery, dean of the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, professor of economics and former chief economist to the White House, who talked about the importance of entrepreneurial activities as key for the future economic success of the country.

At Demo Day, each of the  teams presented and many shared points of progress in developing their networks, including fundraising events, major strategic and corporate partnerships, as well as significant traction and user adoption. Highlights include:

Seed Hatchery cohort (high-growth technology businesses):

  • Troopto, a group gifting platform for co-workers, has partnered with HRO Partners, a human resources outsourcing firm , on-boarded many HR professionals at large corporate offices to beta test and has 200 early adopters currently signed up on the platform’s waiting list. To learn more, visit www.troopto.com.
  • Phase, a mobile app that helps gamers set up gaming events by simplifying the process of picking a game, finding a time and notifying their friends, has released a Minimum Viable Product App (MVP) in the Google Play Store. To learn more, visit www.phase-app.com.
  • Pickle, a mobile app that challenges users to guess what the crowd is thinking and gather group opinions for every day decisions, has tested and launched a campus rep marketing program, on-boarded a six person development team and built a prototype that conducted a month-long beta. To learn more, visit www.trypickle.com.
  • Well Done, a point-of-sale (POS) software developer for the restaurant industry, currently has two customers in the Memphis area and has on-boarded two value-added resellers that have signed up their first customers. To learn more, visit www.welldonepos.co.
  • ORB, a producer of impact and bullet proof luggage, has on-boarded a prototype partner, filed for a provisional patent and formed a materials partnership. Pre-sales are underway.  To learn more, visit www.orbpack.com.

Upstart cohort (women-led technology businesses)

  • Play-tag, a smart wearable ID tag and companion app designed to improve the safety and wellbeing of dogs and the people who love them, has over 1,000 active community members and has commitment from Hollywood Feed to offer Play-tag in all 50 of its stores upon roll out. To learn more, visit www.play-tag.com.
  • eDivv, an online marketplace for trading unused beauty products, currently has over 4,000 subscribers and has facilitated over 16,000 beauty product trades among an array of 46,000 registered products. They had 1.3MM page views in the past month. To learn more, visit www.edivv.com.
  • BarterSugar, an online bartering community for services and items without spending money, has launched a private beta and has partnered with more than 10 universities and art organizations. To learn more, visit www.bartersugar.com.
  • Cabsolutely, replaces antiquated dispatch software with modern mobile applications that connects travelers with professional cab drivers from multiple companies and provides an easy payment solution. They have a commitment from Premier Transportation Services (Yellow Cab and Checker Cab) to provide the application to Memphis-based cab drivers upon successful product build out.  To learn more, visit www.cabsolutely.co.

Sparkgap cohort (logistics technology businesses):

  • As announced earlier this month, Graph Story, a service that offers fast, secure access to graph databasing using a software-as-a-service model, recently closed its first angel round of $250,000. The company also joined Neo Technology’s Neo4j Partner program and launched a private beta with 250 users. To learn more, visit www.graphstory.com.
  • Extra Rail, a priceline website for the rail industry, helps rail car owners easily find unused railroad tracks for storage.  They have commitments from five railroads to list properties with enough miles of track to store over 1,000 rail cars. To learn more, visit www.extrarail.com.

Sky High cohort (social innovation enterprises):

  • CoreFire, an extracurricular program built on the foundation of experiential entertainment, in which students train to become members of a superhero team, has had 20,000 students participate in its programs in the last year. To learn more, visit www.corefire.net.
  • The College Initiative, a nonprofit providing college-capable, low-income students with the tools and mentorship they need to successfully apply to and succeed in college, is expanding its program from 150 students to 500 students in the Mid-South this year, with eight high schools participating in Memphis alone. To learn more, visit www.thecollegeinitiative.org.
  • FuelFilm, a nonprofit organization providing filmmakers with the resources and mentorship they need to tell their stories in innovative and profitable ways, has raised more than $40,000 in outside funding. Additionally, Fuel Film has supported the creation of 26 short films and five features, run more than 35 workshops, panels and events and is the first filmmaker resource center in the Southeast. They are rolling out the second film accelerator in the United States next year. To learn more, visit www.fuelfilm.org.
  • Care2Manage, a care coordination platform for families with an aging loved one. The service connects families to social workers, local elder care resources and organizes total healthcare needs, has raised $30,000 in cash to build out its platform and has paying customers. To learn more, visit www.care2manage.org.

“We’re proud how each of the cohort members progressed and tapped into the resources of our program to build their businesses over the intense three-month accelerator period,” said Mara Lewis, managing director of Start Co. “Acceleration is just the beginning of their journey as founders and entrepreneurs.”

Start Co.’s accelerator programs have been internationally recognized by the Global Accelerator Network, and are unique in that all four run simultaneously allowing for interactions with teams outside of their specific discipline. Additionally, teams have ready access to Start Co.’s mentors and resources that helped them more quickly build their businesses and shore up the pitch to secure funding. Seven of the graduating teams are already generating revenue for their companies, and a mix of more than 35 investors including angels, foundation members, private equity groups, accredited investors attended, representing upwards of half a billion dollars.

Demo Day is only the start of the journey for graduating startups in the accelerators. Immediately following, they are all invited to participate in Start Co.’s newest program developed specifically for post-acceleration. The program, being held at the Start Co. Start Lab in downtown Memphis, is beginning after Labor Day and consists of Friday office hours, as well as ongoing workshops that will help founders build the skills needed to succeed post-acceleration as many build out the next phase of their plan and align for follow-on funding.  Start Co. will also be holding special office hours at the Memphis Public Library on Sept. 26 regarding customer discovery and Oct. 29 on social innovation.

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.