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.