Author Archives: Katie Milligan

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.

The 2014 Start Co. Accelerator Graduates

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We’re excited to introduce the 16 graduating companies from our four accelerators. Join us at the historic Orpheum Theater on Thursday, August 21st to see what these amazing startups have built over the course of the summer.

Seed Hatchery – Information Technology Accelerator

  • Troopto – Private crowdfunding for the workplace
  • Phase – Schedule multi-player games without the hassle
  • Pickle – Crowdsource any opinion in less than 2 minutes
  • Well Done – Full featured tablet POS for independently-owned restaurants
  • ORB – High fashion backpacks designed to protect

 

Upstart – Women-Led Tech Accelerator

  • Play-Tag – Smart bluetooth dog tag and LED alert system
  • eDivv – A marketplace for trading excess beauty products
  • Cabsolutely – Tech upgrade for the taxi industry
  • Barter SugarBartering marketplace for businesses to trade services, space and inventory.

 

Sparkgap – Logistics Technology Accelerator

  • Graph Story – Graph database-as-a-service
  • Extra Rail – Airbnb for the railroad industry
  • Logistadvise – Platform that matches companies with supply-chain transportation

 

Sky High – Social Innovation Accelerator

  • FuelFilm – An accelerator for the film industry (non-profit)
  • The College Initiative – Prepares students for the application & college experience (non-profit)
  • Care2Manage – Simplifies organization & management for families caring for aged loved ones.
  • CoreFire Commandos – an interactive game & web-based portfolio to track the progress of students

 

RSVP for Start Co. Demo Day – Thursday, August 21st, 1pm – 6pm (4pm Keynote Speaker: The Honorable Edward Montgomery)

And come celebrate at the Start Co. Demo Day After Party!

Start Co. Announces Demo Day 2014 Aug. 21

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Graduates to present business plans to more than 750 investors, entrepreneurs and community leaders

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Aug. 11, 2014) – Start Co. today announced that 16 startup teams will present their companies to the entrepreneurial ecosystem, including community leaders, at Demo Day Aug. 21. Demo Day is the culmination of a nationally recognized intensive 14-week startup training and mentoring program, which is specially recognized by the Global Accelerator Network.

Mayor A.C. Warton, Jr., has proclaimed Aug. 21 to be “Demo Day 2014,” recognizing the efforts of Start Co. to serve the community and citizens of Memphis.  Each team will pitch their business on stage at the Orpheum Theater to investors and community members to celebrate progress to date and to seek additional funding.  The event will begin at 1:00 p.m. with pitches from the first group of teams. The keynote address will then take place at 4:00 p.m. followed by the remaining pitches.

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, will be the keynote speaker. He plans to discuss the importance of entrepreneurial activities as key for the future economic success of the country, and especially in communities such as Memphis.

More than 750 attendees are expected, ranging from successful entrepreneurs to regional and community leaders and investors from throughout the Mid-South and even areas such as St. Louis, San Francisco and Singapore.

Start Co. operates four accelerator programs, Seed Hatchery, Upstart, Sparkgap and Sky High. Each is a 14-week intensive program created for entrepreneurs with high-growth startup ideas.

Memphis Selected for Women’s Focused Startup Weekend, Powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, The Commercial Appeal and Start Co.

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54-hour event tailored toward developing talents of aspiring female entrepreneurs

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Aug. 11, 2014) – Start Co. announced today that Memphis will play host to Startup Weekend Sept. 12-14. Startup Weekend is an international series of weekend events to spur entrepreneurship, and the Memphis Startup Weekend will focus on showcasing the talents of aspiring female entrepreneurs to inspire, educate and empower female founders and teams and invigorate the community.

“Inclusion of women-led startups has always been a key priority for Start Co., so we are excited to sponsor Startup Weekend to support female founders here in the Memphis region,” said Eric Mathews, CEO and founder of Start Co. “Being selected to participate reinforces the recognition Memphis has received for being a diverse and upcoming entrepreneurial ecosystem that empowers women.”

The event will begin with a presentation from Laurie Tucker, former Senior Vice President of Corporate Marketing at FedEx, to be followed by open mic pitches from potential founders, where attendees can inspire others to join their team. The rest of the weekend will be spent by the teams to build business models and presentations to pitch their ideas to judges on Sunday evening. Teams will have access to professional assistance mentors, representing a cross-section of industry talent across the Mid-South, including marketing, financial, development and legal services, among others.

Startup Weekends from UPGlobal take place all over the world and provide hands-on experiences that allow entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs to discover whether their ideas are viable. An intensive 54-hour event, Startup Weekends encourage developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts to come together to form teams, build products and launch startups.

“We’re thrilled to add Memphis to the list of cities hosting Startup Weekend Women’s Edition this year,” said Ari Kern, regional manager UPGlobal, Southeast USA. “Memphis’ vibrant startup culture and focus on supporting women and minorities aligns with the mission of making the world a more innovative and prosperous place, one community at a time.”

Memphis is only one of 20 cities hosting the special women’s edition and was selected because of Start Co.’s commitment to support the growth of women-led technology startups, as demonstrated in the two-year old Upstart accelerator program. The event is also being sponsored by Google for Entrepreneurs and The Commercial Appeal.

To sign up for Memphis’ Startup Weekend, please visit http://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,andMosaik Solutions.  More information can be found atneverstop.co.

New Logistics Venture Lands $250,000 Investment

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(Memphis Daily News) Start Co.’s “Summer of Acceleration” already has proven a success for at least one startup that’s participated in one of the organization’s accelerators this year.

Graph Story, a graph database-as-a-service offering for small and medium businesses and which is a member of Start Co.’s SparkGap accelerator, is the recipient of a six-figure angel investment award, the first as part of this year’s “Summer of Acceleration” program.

The $250,000 investment was mostly furnished by members of Start Co.’s Angel Network, the first angel network and fund in the region specifically designed to fund high-growth technology startups.

Graph Story’s award is the latest funding event for Start Co. Angels. At the start of the year, three previous Seed Hatchery teams – Seed Hatchery being another Start Co. accelerator program – got funding from both the network and fund itself, a result of how Start Co., since 2011, has rapidly boosted its base of angel investors at the same time it’s tried to increase entrepreneurial talent and access to mentorship in the area.

Read the full article at The Daily News

Sparkgap Cohort Member Receives First Investment of the Year

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(SouthernAlpa) Today, Start Co. announced a $250,000 angel investment for Sparkgap cohort member Graph Story, a graph database-as-a-service offering for small and medium businesses. The funding is the first investment for this year’s Summer of Acceleration programming.

“Moving through Sparkgap’s curriculum has helped me establish a valid business model and strategy,” said Greg Jordan, CEO and Founder of Graph Story. “The team and mentor network at Start Co. has helped coach me every step of the way, from customer discovery to development to receiving the investment dollars that will help propel my business forward to the next stage.”

Read the full article at SouthernAlpha

Logistics start-up gets angel funding

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(Memphis Business Journal) Ahead of Start Co.’s Aug. 21 Demo Day, one of its startups has secured $250,000 in angel funding.

Graph Story, a company participating in Sparkgap, the logistics accelerator created by Start Co., received the funding from the Start Co. Angels network.

The company was founded by Greg Jordan in February 2014. It utilizes a variety of information compiled by logistics companies to troubleshoot possible problems before they happen and save time for drivers by finding alternate routes.

“Graph Story’s funding is a validation of his hard work and business model, which provides tangible benefits to small and medium-sized businesses,” Eric Mathews, CEO of founder of Start Co., said.

View the full article at Memphis Business Journal 

Sparkgap accelerator cohort member Graph Story receives $250,000 angel investment

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First startup in Summer of Acceleration programming closes funding round in only 85 days

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Aug. 4, 2014) – Start Co. today announced a $250,000 angel investment for Sparkgap cohort member Graph Story, a graph database-as-a-service offering for small and medium businesses. The funding, mostly furnished by members of the Start Co. Angels Network, represents the first investment for this year’s Summer of Acceleration programming.

 

“Moving through Sparkgap’s curriculum has helped me establish a valid business model and strategy,” said Greg Jordan, CEO and Founder of Graph Story. “The team and mentor network at Start Co. has helped coach me every step of the way, from customer discovery to development to receiving the investment dollars that will help propel my business forward to the next stage.”

 

Graph Story is the latest funding event for Start Co. Angels, the first angel network and fund in the region that was specifically designed to fund high growth technology startups. In January, three prior Seed Hatchery teams received funding from both the fund and network. Since 2011, Start Co. has rapidly increased entrepreneurial talent and access to mentorship, while also developing a larger base of angel investors, all to further the mission to relentlessly build founders in the Mid-South.

 

“Greg took full advantage of the resources, curriculum and access to our mentors and angel network,” said Eric Mathews, CEO and Founder of Start Co. “This is further validation of our acceleration model, where we cram 12 months of entrepreneurship into three months. As a result of the strengthened entrepreneurial ecosystem, we can quickly create results and provide the resources and funding needed to help startups succeed.”

 

The Start Co. Angels has standardized the investment process to become more time and cost efficient. This efficiency and the continued efforts of Start Co. to include more investors in the network led Graph Story to have a signed term sheet in only 75 days and close the funding round 10 days later. This is due in part to the proprietary standardized term sheet and due diligence process, coupled with the education and cultural norms instilled into both investors and founders of the local startup ecosystem.

 

To see Graph Story’s business pitch and to hear the other teams present at Demo Day, register at www.neverstop.co/demoday. Media should contact Liz Hamilton at (901) 260-4168 or lhamilton@archermalmo.com to register and receive a media pass. 

 

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,Softlayer (an IBM Company), andMosaik Solutions. More information can be found atneverstop.co.