Author Archives: Katie Milligan

Respected Economic Development Leader to Keynote Start Co.’s Demo Day August 21


MEMPHIS, Tenn. (July 28, 2014) – Start Co. announced today that The Honorable Edward B. Montgomery, former White House Chief Economist and current dean of the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, will be the keynote speaker at the Summer of Acceleration Demo Day Aug. 21.

Demo Day is the culmination of a nationally recognized intensive 14-week startup training and mentoring program created for entrepreneurs with innovative startup ideas in the information technology (Seed Hatchery), logistics innovation (Sparkgap), women-led technology (Upstart) and social enterprise (Sky High) industries. Montgomery’s keynote will focus on the community impact of high-growth entrepreneurship and how this is especially key for communities such as Memphis.

“Economic growth and revitalization in today’s fast moving economy requires the deliberate and systematic development and nurturing of an entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Montgomery. “Public private partnerships can play an important role in fostering and supporting startup companies from their earliest stages through to maturity.”


Montgomery is widely recognized as an authority on economic development, labor law and policy. He has had a long career in academia at institutions such as the University of Maryland, Michigan State University, Harvard University and Stanford University. Montgomery was also tasked by President Obama to act as the executive director of the White House council for auto communities and workers. He is also a prior chief economist for the U.S. Department of Labor. Montgomery’s public policy expertise is frequently sought after and has also been featured in major media outlets such as C-SPAN, Politico and Bloomberg BNA’s Daily Labor Report.


“The Honorable Edward B. Montgomery is one of the most respected voices on economic development in the world today,” said Andre Fowlkes, Start Co. president. “We’re thrilled that he’ll be sharing his insights on the importance of entrepreneurs and the startup culture in building communities for the future and how communities like Memphis can apply accelerator methods across established social, government and business sectors.”

Demo day will host investors, industry executives and the community at large at this year’s Demo Day, where 16 startup teams will showcase their companies. To register or learn more about Demo Day, please visit


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, 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

Brock: GigTank teams getting ready for pitch day


(Chattanooga Times Free Press) In Tennessee, we currently have six accelerators across the state that are nearing the end of their industry-specific summer cohort programs: GigTank in Chattanooga, Jumpstart Foundry in Nashville, ZeroTo510 and the Start Co. programs in Memphis, autoXLR8R in Spring Hill and MediaWorks in Knoxville.

All of these programs began in May and will end with demo days later this month or in August. GigTank wraps up with demo day on Tuesday, July 29 at Girls Preparatory School. GigTank is the world’s only accelerator with access to a gigabit-speed Internet and focuses on companies in areas of 3D printing/additive manufacturing, healthcare technology and smart grid development.

View the full article at Chattanooga Times Free Press

Teach for America Leverages Start Co. Resources


(Memphis Daily News) Education reform has been alive and well here in Memphis over the last few years. There have been many great initiatives established to secure dollars and establish programming to move our youth forward. As always, I am thinking of scale, sustainability and innovation to stay relevant.

Teach for America is one effort that has been growing strong since it landed in Memphis in 2006, especially given our struggles with only 4 percent of high school students graduating college ready and 26 percent holding a bachelor’s degree in the metro area, according to Teach for America. Its mission is valiant, “growing the movement of leaders who work to ensure that kids growing up in poverty get an excellent education.”

It has been interesting to see how entrepreneurship is taking root as a means to further Teach for America’s mission. Let’s face it, TFA is a startup. A startup that began in 1989, but nonetheless its model is original, innovative and scalable. It’s no wonder that entrepreneurs are spawning out of its corps, and we are seeing that right here in Memphis in terms of advancing education.

View the full article at The Daily News 

I Choose Memphis: Hillary Quirk


(Memphis Daily News) “I Choose Memphis” spotlights Memphians who are passionate about calling this community home. New Memphis Institute provides the profiles.

Name: Hillary Quirk

Job title and company: Community Manager, Start Co.

Length of time living in Memphis: 5 years

Life history: I grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and moved to Memphis to attend Rhodes College, where I studied international studies and political science. Memphis was supposed to be a temporary stepping stone, but the more I got to know it, the more I realized I couldn’t bring myself to leave! I was hooked and wanted to invest in the city I had come to love, so I joined the team at Start Co. – a globally recognized organization that builds startup founders for the digital economy in Memphis. I now consider myself a proud Memphian.

First memory of Memphis? Other than a brief tour of the Rhodes campus, I hadn’t seen the city itself until I arrived for my college orientation … just in time for Elvis Week. Imagine my surprise upon seeing flocks of Elvis impersonators flooding the streets of my new city.

What is your favorite local festival? BBQ Fest. There is a reason people come from all over the world for this. From the multistory tents along the river to the slow-cooked pork, chicken, alligator and anything in between, it’s hard not to be impressed by BBQ Fest.

Read the full article at The Daily News

Regional accelerators off and running for summer


(The Tennessean) In my last column, I wrote about the progress that Tennessee’s network of accelerators has made since 2012 and the new “Accelerator 2.0” structure.

Six accelerators across the state are in the middle of industry-specific summer cohort programs: Jumpstart Foundry in Nashville, ZeroTo510 and the Start Co. programs in Memphis, autoXLR8R in Spring Hill, MediaWorks in Knoxville and GIGTANK in Chattanooga.

All of these programs began in May and will end with demo days later this month or in August. Nashville’s Jumpstart Foundry is the oldest of the programs — this is its fifth cohort — and it also recently received national recognition as one of the best accelerators in the country from MIT’s Sloan School of Management and TechCrunch. Over the past five years, 30 companies have graduated from Jumpstart Foundry, and 65 percent of those are still in business. Most have gone on to raise substantial amounts of outside capital.

View the full article at The Tennessean

Memphis Named Top Ten Place for Startup Companies


Silicon Valley is a sort of Mecca for startups.

Facebook, Google, Apple: It’s enough to make a budding techie salivate.

But Silicon Valley should watch out for “Bluff Valley:” Memphis was named one of the top ten places for startups by a recent NerdWallet study.

“We have one team from Silicon Valley, we have two teams from New York,” said e-publisher Screwpulp CEO Richard Billings, “One of the great things about Memphis is it doesn’t cost as much to start up. Just the cost of living, the cost of office space, the taxes, everything is 4.8-percent lower than the national average.”

Screwpulp was just a pitch in 2012 at a Start Co. event, 48 Hour Launch; two years later, it has a staff of five and growing, office space downtown, and a growing user base.

View the full article at My Fox Memphis

26 Startup Incubators & Accelerators Outside New York and San Francisco


America’s startup scene is getting bigger by the day. Hundreds of incubators and accelerators are helping businesses around the country, with many of the biggest programs centered in New York or the San Francisco Bay Area. But that doesn’t mean you have to go to the coasts to get your business started. Plus, taking your business to a smaller city means a cheaper cost of living for you and your team and cities on the up-and-up often offer tax incentives for new businesses as well.

What’s the difference between incubators and accelerators? Generally speaking, incubators work with just-formed companies and accelerators work with existing businesses, offering mentorship, training, professional services and capital funding in exchange for equity. The programs are competitive and can last anywhere from a few months to more than a year. (This list excludes accelerator-esque programs that are membership-based campuses, such as 1776 in DC. You can find more incubators and accelerators around the U.S. and around the world on and

Here’s a list of 26 accelerators and incubators outside of NYC or San Francisco organized by region with cost-of-living information from Forbes’ Best Places for Business and Careers so you can find the place that’s right for your company. For comparison, the cost of living is 54.3 percent above the national average in San Francisco and 29.8 percent above the national average in New York City. The average home price is $742,500 in San Francisco and $442,600 in New York.

View the full article at Consumer Electronics Association

Memphis ranks as one of top 10 cities to start a business


(WMC) – Did you know that Memphis could be one of the best places to start up a business? According to CNN Money, it ranks as one of the top 10 cities in the country.

Start Co. is a company, located in Downtown Memphis, that makes it their job to help get new businesses off the ground. This summer, it is taking on 18 teams and preparing them for a demo day that could end with investors for entrepreneurs with good ideas.

Maggie Owsley is not from Memphis, and she never thought she would end up here until she started her own company called Play-tag.

“Play-tag is a wearable device for dogs,” said Owsley. “It’s a dog tag that goes on your dog’s existing collar, and it communicates with your mobile app.”

Read the rest of the article at Action 5 News

Digital ‘Buy Local’ Platform MadeIn Set to Launch


Next week, a venture called MadeIn is launching a new shopping platform in Memphis to connect people to a website where they can buy and sell local goods.

The venture is a digital platform that will act as a kind of local version of Amazon, and MadeIn creator Jennifer Sadler said her startup also will sell curated gift boxes that include an assortment of local products.

Sadler has been working with Start Co. over the summer to launch MadeIn, which she hopes raises awareness of the many sides of Memphis that get obscured in the shadow of things such as Elvis and barbecue. And to help get the word out about the platform, MadeIn is throwing a party.

Continue Reading at The Daily News

MadeIn: a new online marketplace to buy, sell local


Memphians know that blues and barbecue aren’t the only things made in Memphis. Now, the startup online marketplace MadeIn brings locally made products to visitors and natives alike.

The website’s platform offers a selection of items for individual sale and curated boxes. Founder and CEO Jennifer Sadler got her start with making City Boxes, a package that sampled the best art, food, music, and gifts that Memphis had to offer. Transitioning to an online gallery was done with the help of Start Co., a development organization for Memphis startups.

View the full article at Memphis Business Journal