Our entrepreneurial methods work for more than just entrepreneurs

Putting our insights to use throughout the community.

Experience

Since 2008, Start Co. has applied lean entrepreneurial methods to build and support those launching early-stage companies. Along the way Start Co. has applied similar approaches for building and growing civic endeavors. We’ve built not only founders and startups, but also a startup and innovation ecosystem. And we’ve accomplished all of this in a challenging environment – Memphis, Tennessee.

We’ve found that others locally, nationally, and internationally are faced with similar challenges. Most of the business world is more like Memphis rather than Silicon Valley. So when launching products, services, economic and community development initiatives, and other innovation-based efforts, Start Co. stands out in an era where premature execution is too costly a mistake.

Based on the demand, Start Co. offers service and support to assist other communities in leveraging lean startup methods to support not only the building of startup infrastructure and ecosystems, but also civic, social, and other efforts. Our services include:

  • Building, launching, and operating accelerators and incubators
  • Launching products and services in severely underserved communities, including inclusion and empowerment programming
  • Entrepreneurial ecosystem building, including partner alignment, culture, and capacity building
  • Public-private partner engagement, including building innovative programming with universities and community organizations to support access to entrepreneurial thinking
  • Entrepreneurship curriculums, programming, and lending best practices to others

Examples of those who have benefited from our resources

Memphis Public Library

Bringing entrepreneurial programming, office hours, innovative building methods, tool kits, curricula, and a construct for launching new efforts to the Small Business Resource Center

“StartCo.’s commitment to innovation has inspired us to raise the bar on the kinds of services the library can provide.”
–Diane Jalfon
Executive Director
Memphis Library Foundation

Start Co. assisted in planning and executing the upgrade of the library’s available services for entrepreneurs and nonprofits. Start Co. provided online entrepreneur toolkits and resources, created ad hoc mentor programs to meet demand of small businesses, developed new programs and workshops, and launched new youth programs. Working to support long term sustainability, Start Co. aligned and engaged library employees from top to bottom.

Testimonial:

Since our first meeting with StartCo. in 2013, the Library has examined the needs of our Small Business Center customers and explored new methods of service delivery. Previous to our relationship with StartCo., the library staff could only point customers to our resources – our books, materials, and databases – but could not provide specific guidance beyond that. StartCo. offers the Library an opportunity to provide customized, one-on-one small business help from expert professionals. The value of the service we provide to these customers has greatly increased.

In addition to the establishment of regular, one-on-one mentoring hours at the Library, StartCo. has partnered with us on events such as speed pitch and customer discovery. Our ability to host these events has raised the profile of the Library and drawn attention to our small business resources. And we’ve gained customers that were previously unaware of our offerings.

As we approach our next big project, a digital media-based lab for teens, we are using our experience with StartCo. to inform its service delivery. Since we have successfully gone beyond just providing resources to customizing, teaching, and facilitating in the Small Business Center, we know that this approach can succeed in the Cloud901 space as well. The teen lab will feature programs in conjunction with StartCo., as well as other several other partner organizations across the city, so that teens will receive expert instruction on digital media tools and other creative endeavors. StartCo.’s commitment to innovation has inspired us to raise the bar on the kinds of services the Library can provide.

Diane Jalfon
Executive Director
Memphis Library Foundation


University of Memphis Department of Journalism

Changing curriculum, co-teaching, and bringing credit for startup experience to the U of M

“With the help of Andre and Start Co., the journalism department has become a leader in entrepreneurship education at the University of Memphis.”
–David Arant, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Journalism
University of Memphis

We’ve brought entrepreneurial journalism to the University of Memphis. Teaching both online and traditional classes on how to be more innovative in journalism, we’re presenting a similar curriculum to students that we offer in our accelerators. StartCo. is even in the university catalogue, teaching about six classes a year. Thanks to these classes, students in Memphis can now earn a certificate in entrepreneurial journalism.

Testimonial:

Andre Fowlkes and Start Co. have been at the heart of the development of the entrepreneurship curriculum in the Department of Journalism at the University of Memphis. The relationship between Andre and the journalism program began with Professor Lurene Kelley, who developed our original entrepreneurial coursework by participating the Start Co. workshops to develop her own start-up mindset. From the outset, Andre has worked with both the professor and students enrolled in our entrepreneurial classes. When Lurene left our department, Professor Carrie Brown likewise went through the Start Co. training to develop her start-up insights, and Andre continued to work with the professor and students in the entrepreneurship class. Carrie Brown developed an Entrepreneurship Certificate that incorporates Start Co. workshops. With the help of Andre and Start Co., the journalism department has become a leader in entrepreneurship education at the University of Memphis.

David Arant, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Journalism
University of Memphis


Memphis & Shelby County Public Defender’s Office

Providing social innovation and entrepreneurial thinking, mentorship, and support

“Start Co. has proven a valuable civic partner and has helped me and members of my team foster an entrepreneurial mindset…”
–Stephen Bush
Shelby County Public Defender

We hold events regularly attended by a core team from the public defenders office. These events, including pitch competitions and business model canvas, help attendees be more entrepreneurial and aid them in being more preventative than reactive in their work.

Testimonial:

“We are fortunate to have a resource like Start Co. in Memphis – one that believes in the power of social innovation to make our city better. As the head of a government agency faced with significant funding restraints and overwhelming caseloads for our lawyers, it is imperative that we identify smart approaches to address the needs of our clients and community. Start Co. has proven a valuable civic partner and has helped me and members of my team foster an entrepreneurial mindset; a way of thinking that is so critical to true criminal justice reform.”

— Stephen Bush, Shelby County Public Defender


More Experience

ZeroTo510 Medical Device Accelerator – Lending best practices and training support
St. George’s Independent School – Designing implementing an entrepreneurial curriculum at this local high school
Rhodes College – Building a campus ecosystem through office hours, workshops, and business plan competitions
Undercurrent – Providing advisory services during planning and launch of the series

For more information on retaining Start Co. services please email services@neverstop.co.