Exploits of a Risk City: Wrap-up of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2012


Did you know that Tennessee led the nation yet again with the most Global Entrepreneurship Week events? And we were proud to contribute to that achievement through a week’s worth of new programming that welcomed new entrepreneurs, provided resources to our existing network and further developed our innovation ecosystem.

On Monday we introduced Pitch Perfect, a formal pitch session where those moving forward with their startups received feedback from a diverse panel of industry experts. Seven presenters pitched ideas ranging in focus from personal training games to microgreens to an online registry for those in time of need.

A recurring theme when talking to startups in Seed Hatchery and Zero to 510 is the invaluable support that comes through mentorship. To that end we are launching the new Memphis Venture Mentors that will serve all of our programs, and hosted our first Mentor Orientation and Mixer on Tuesday evening at Alchemy. Twenty-five potential mentors joined us, along with a number of entrepreneurs.

On Wednesday Chris West of Need Registry (who pitched to FUBU founder and Shark Tank investor Daymond John earlier this year thanks to the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club) was featured on WREG’s morning show.

We again partnered with the Society of Entrepreneurs on Thursday for Core Conversations, a luncheon where current entrepreneurs gain insights and make powerful connections with veteran entrepreneurs like Dr. Mary McDonald, Dan Poag and Hilliard Crews.

On Friday we hosted our inaugural Field Day, and rented Minglewood Hall in honor of the auspicious occasion. Roughly 200 individuals representing startups, businesses and nonprofits joined us to co-work with one another and to further their ideas and initiatives through out toolkit. Baker Donelson and Marston Group provided pro bono consultations, and Baker even filmed segments for their Entrepreneur Minute video series. Many thanks to Dog and Slaw, Fuel and Mark’s Grill food trucks for being on hand, and to Contemporary Media for providing complimentary professional head shots!

As part of Field Day we also hosted a SpeedPitch session, where 12 Memphians with bold ideas made some rapid fire presentations to 11 judges in turn (think speed dating) who provided similarly lightning round feedback.

And we hosted the first Amazing Risk Startup Challenge, during which three finalist teams were debriefed and given missions at 9am that walked them through discovery work while sending them throughout the city. Guild Local, Memphis Urban Farm School and Screwpulp went above and beyond with their assignments. MUFS created their Facebook page at 10am and by 4pm already had 200 “likes.” Guild Local had 50 posters designed and printed as part of their extra credit points. And for the requirement to interview at least ten strangers, Screwpulp approached some of Memphis’ finest in MPD.

The defining mission of the Amazing Risk, however, involved clues that led to three 90-second pitches. Each team pitched to Marvin Stockwell and his team at the Church Health Center, to Brittany Cabigao of South of Beale gastropub, and [drum roll…] to Judge John Fowlkes in federal court. Nibletz was on hand to document the latter; check out their coverage here of what might be the most intimidating pitch assignment ever.

Finally, the three teams presented mini-investor decks to the crowd at Minglewood and to celebrity panelists Kym Clark of WMC, Andrew Hogin of LaunchTennessee and Kyle Sandler of Nibletz. When all was said and done, and points tallied, the winner of Memphis’ first Amazing Risk Startup Challenge was Screwpulp! Congrats to Richard Billings and his team who won $5k in cash and $5k in services for their digital publishing startup.

What’s a jam-packed, successful Global Entrepreneurship Week without a party? At 8pm we switched gears for a Risk City Soiree, featuring Fast Planet and the debut of  hot new sound by Marcela Pinilla and Danari Fowlkes. Ah…

It takes a village to develop a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, and we thank all involved in our Risk City: GEW 2012 programming, including sponsors Baker Donelson, LaunchTennessee, Loeb Properties, Marston Group and Waddell & Associates.

Our gratitude goes to those who enthusiastically and quite graciously supported the Amazing Risk: the Church Health Center, South of Beale and Judge Fowlkes (and… the security team members at the federal building). And again, our celebrity panel of WMC’s Kym Clark, LaunchTennessee’s Andrew Hogin and Nibletz’ Kyle Sandler.

And many thanks to those who spotlighted Risk City: GEW 2012 through media coverage. Check out this great feature by Daniel Hight of WREG: