On Thursday in a swank movie theater in Memphis’ revitalized midtown district, six startups presented their companies to a theater that was literally, standing room only by the beginning of the pitches.
BetterFed (farm to consumer), MentorMe (e-harmony for mentors), Soundstache (a fan engagement platform for bands), Boosterville (a huge disruption in fundraising), Musistic (Github for musicians) and ScrewPulp (a better way to self publish), took the stage for 12 minute investor pitches after concluding the three month Seed Hatchery accelerator program.
Investors and spectators from Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and as far away as Singapore and Silicon Valley were in attendance to take in the pitches.
Mara Lewis, a San Francisco based entrepreneur and founder of stopped.at, was in attendance for the Seed Hatchery festivities which included an after party at the world famous Memphis BBQ competition. Lewis, who’s pitched in front of plenty of crowds said that this group at Seed Hatchery was one of the best groups she’s seen. Lewis is currently working with Start Co’s co-President’s Andre Fowlkes and Eric Mathews on their upcoming Upstart women’s startup accelerator.
After playing host to a group of Memphis entrepreneurs (including myself) in Silicon Valley in March, Kuji Chahal of Fisher Investments made the cross country trek to hear the pitches from the Seed Hatchery cohort. Chahal stuck around throughout the festivities to talk with all of the new entrepreneurs.
Andre Mouton, an investor from Singapore has been ecstatic about Memphis’ entrepreneurship. He made a trip to Memphis in February which included visits to Launch Memphis, Bioworks and everywhereelse.co The Startup Conference. Mouton took meetings with entrepreneurs all weekend long at the BBQ Festival and over at the Peabody Hotel. Mouton told us that he was impressed at how hard everyone was working in Memphis, that my friend is the Grit N Grind.
Vic Gatto, a Managing Partner at Solidus, the investment firm that seeds the Seed Hatchery class along with Jump Start Foundry in Nashville, made it a point to call out investors in the room with a call to action to talk with the entrepreneurs, and see that all six businesses have a good chance of survival. Gatto’s partner Townes Duncan, along with his son Walker Duncan, co-founder and Editor in Chief at southernalpha also made it down from Nashville. The younger Duncan was returning from an event in Atlanta. Obviously the Grit N Grind of Memphis is expanding state wide.
Both Fowlkes and Mathews were quick to point out that Investor Day isn’t the conclusion of the Seed Hatchery program but rather the beginning. They recently added Rhodes graduate, Hillary Quirk, to the Start Co team as Community Manager. In her new role Quirk is forming an alumni association for Memphis’ accelerators which include the two cohorts at ZeroTo510.