Memphis’ Bad Ass Startup Chick Brittany Fitzpatrick Pitches MentorMe

MentorMe,Brittany Fitzpatrick,Seed Hatchery,startup,memphis startupThe day of reckoning is upon us and it appears that Bad Ass Startup Chick Brittany Fitzpatrick’s nerves have calmed a bit. After working tirelessly on a startup she originally pitched at the women’s 48 hour launch in Decemeber, Fitzpatrick is ready to show the world her answer to many of mentoring’s problems.

Community service and helping people have been what Brittany Fitzpatrick’s life’s work have been about. But what makes this Memphian even more amazing is that she left a position with one of the most prestigious, well known brands in the non-profit space, Ronald McDonald House Charities, to start something of her own, again in community service.

As the communications coordinator for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Memphis, Brittany took the passion and drive she’s had since high school and through college at Howard University and Memphis University, and combined it with the tools available in recent day to double the groups social media reach. Ronald McDonald House Charities of Memphis works with the most well known children’s research facility in the world, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Over the last six years,  Brittany has been a mentor and helped other mentor’s in a variety of programs. Through her work with Ronald McDonald House Charities and other stops along the way, she found that mentorship was a great thing, but flawed in many ways.

When she first pitched the idea for her startup “Mentor Me” back in December at a women focused 48 Hour Launch, she revealed that most mentor orgranizations spend more money re-placing mentors and mentees than they do setting up original pairs. Brittanny quickly realized if someone could fix the initial matching proces than these programs could focus on their original goals and save a lot of money.

That’s where her startup Mentor Me comes in. Mentor Me is a mentor and mentee online matching service that uses a variety of information given from both parties and an algorithm to make more successful matches. While Brittany is hesitant about using the verbage “e-harmony for mentor”, at the core that’s what it is and that’s why it’s going to be so successful.

But the biggest factor in the success of Mentor Me is going to be a combination of the technology and the founder. Brittany is a dynamic young woman. Back in December, the prize for the 48 Hour Launch competition was a startup village booth at When Brittany came in second place she decided to crowdfund the people in the audience so that she too could have a booth for her startup. Within minutes her mission was successful.

After working for three months in the Seed Hatchery startup accelerator, Fitzpatrick unveiled MentorMe to the public at large Thursday in Memphis. Check out her pitch below:

But the biggest factor in the success of Mentor Me is going to be a combination of the technology and the founder. Brittany is a dynamic young woman. Back in December, the prize for the 48 Hour Launch competition was a startup village booth at When Brittany came in second place she decided to crowdfund the people in the audience so that she too could have a booth for her startup. Within minutes her mission was successful.

Find out more about Mentor me here at





2 Memphis Tech & Startup Ninjas Turn Farmer With BetterFed [SeedHatchery]

betterfedThe story about how Scott Finney and his scientific outsourcing startup, IncreaseIf, pivoted to become BetterFed is a story that wouldn’t even fit here on the pages of nibletz. It’s actually a classic story of believing in the founder though and that’s what the team that vetted Seed Hatchery startups did. (disclosure I was on that team).

We knew that Scott Finney had a very well versed background in engineering. A graduate of Auburn University, and a regular attendee of the local Startup Meetup, Finney has had a slew of great ideas. IncreaseIf may not have been one of those, but his passion and technical expertise would drive him to his ultimate destiny which is BetterFed.

BetterFed is a startup that bridges farmers and local growers with people too busy to get to the farmers market but still want the freshness, benefits and healthy alternatives that come from real home grown food. To get from IncreaseIf to BetterFed, took a lot of pivoting, until Finney just blew everything up and solicited the help of Seed Hatchery alum Kenn Gibbs.  Gibbs had taken his own edutainment startup, Knoco, through last year’s Seed Hatchery program.

At first Gibbs wasn’t sure if he would join Finney on the BetterFed journey. He was already knee deep in mentoring and offering technical advice to the other cohort teams. However without much poking and proding, Gibbs came around and now both young men are so into BetterFed that they created Twitter handles FarmerFinn and FarmerKenn. They’ve also been talking about opening up their own farm and becoming growersthemselves.

We got a chance to talk to Finney just before he went onstage here’s what he said:

What’s your startup, what do you do?
BetterFed connects customers to local food sources. We provide weekly food subscriptions that best fit your families eating habits.

Why did you apply to Seed Hatchery?

I was looking to get my MBA sometime soon. Speaking with some of the alum, I heard the benefits of Seed Hatchery outweighing a classroom experience.

What were you expecting?
I was expecting to be a technical co-founder for a team and ended up being a lone founder for the first month of the cohort.

Did you get what you were expecting?

Yes, I knew I was going to be forced out of my comfort zone, but didn’t know how much until now.

What was your big “A Ha Moment”?

The importance of taking action and realizing you can plan and assume all you want, but you won’t learn anything until you take action.

What are two big things you learned during the Accelerator Process?

Get a product out to your customers as soon as you can, and tell everyone about what you’re working on because you never know who can make an introduction to a valuable relationship.

What’s one thing you learned about yourself during the accelerator process?

The program required me to use skill sets I did not believe I had. In the past I would have let others handle sales and marketing, but I’m completely involved in those avenues.

What are you hoping for after Investor day?

We’re looking to continue our customer discovery to validate all that we’ve learned in the past couple weeks.

Tell us one of your mentors and what you learned from him or her?

Sarah Baker is a PR and communication expert and she’s helped us focus our message to our target audience.
And now check out their pitch video.
Find out more at  

We’ve got more Seed Hatchery startup stories for you here. 


The Big Day Is Here For Memphis Startup ScrewPulp

screwpulpLast week we were pleased to bring you the story of ScrewPulp’s launch. The new self publishing platform is helping authors and publishers with much needed traction and engagement through a different model.

Publishers/authors sign up for ScrewPulp which helps them market their books by giving away the first 25 copies in exchange for a social media mention, review or rating. From there, as books gain popularity they increase in price by $1.00 per level. This format gives authors/publishers, much needed exposure and the benefit of having ratings and reviews built in to their profile.

Publishers hold all the rights to their books. ScrewPulp takes a small percentage and leaves the author/publisher with no less than 75%. They only ask that submitted works stay on the site for 90 days.

Screw Pulp founder Richard Billings launched the startup at 48 Hour Launch in June of last year. From there he went on to take the top prize at Launch Memphis’ Global Entrepreneurship Week event, which included pitching in front of Federal Court Judge, John Fowlkes.  The Seed Hatchery accelerator was the next natural step for the team.

We’ve chronicled the life of ScrewPulp from that very first pitch in June, consequently the same 48 Hour Launch event that attracted Nibletz to Memphis, through demo day. Check out more Screwpulp coverage here and watch Billings’ pitch video here:


Check out more of our Seed Hatchery coverage here. 


Musistic Debuts At Seed Hatchery Demo Day, Finally A GitHub For Musicians

musisticWhat do you get when you cross two musicians and two recording studio employees in Memphis one of the earliest cities in the world with a globally musical pulse? Musistic.

The Musistic team is made up of Justin Olita, Vince Rogers, Brian Wentzloff and Rachel Hurley (who joined them after leaving the soundstache team). The four of them together are pioneering a new collaborative music platform that allows musicians to collaborate in a meaningful way, similar to how programmers collaborate on GitHub.

Users can find others to collaborate on a song or album together via the Musistic platform. From there each musician can post their parts and tracks for the others to “pull down” and record on top of. The best part is that the Musistic platform is DAW friendly across many types of popular software.

Gone are the days when musicians need to upload enormous email attachments or figure out which drop box, or other cloud account has enough space for their project.

Using Musistic they can easily find the parts they need, re-record, edit and get them back up for the collaborators to continue working on. This isa welcomed tool in the music community and it’s made from a team that is rich in their musical background.

To date they’ve secured a creative capital investment from Loaded For Bear equal to $100,000 per year for five years. They are also working on strategic partnerships with the Memphis Music Foundation and the Folk Alliance International.  It also helps that Hurley, who leads marketing and business development, has deep relationships with hundreds of Memphis musicians.

To get a better idea of what Musistic is and where it’s going, check out the pitch video below.

You can find out more at

We’ve got more Seed Hatchery coverage here.


Star & Micey’s Nick Redmond Pitches Soundstache At Seed Hatchery Investor Day

nicksoundstacheMemphians, and for that matter a lot of folks in Tennessee are familiar with the name Nick Redmond. Nick is the frontman for the very popular indie band, Star & Micey. It was through touring, singing, performing and engaging with fans that Redmond had this great idea for a startup and Soundstache was born.

Through fellow Memphian Rachel Hurley who is knee deep in the Memphis music scene through working with the Poplar Lounge and other Memphis music spots, and through being active in the Memphis startup community, Redmond got the opportunity to apply for Seed Hatchery.

Hurley says that it was actually at famous movie director and local Memphian, Craig Brewer’s birthday party where Redmond pitched the idea for an interactive app that worked both online and off line and connected fans to musicians. Soundstache is a geo-caching app/game that allows fans to search for “staches” that bands put out for them to find. They could be in plain sight or maybe tucked under a tree, in a set of stairs or attached to a sign post.

Bands plant staches for fans to find and the app directs them to it.

Never afraid a challenge, just days into the Seed Hatchery program Redmond decided to try SoundStache out at one of the biggest playgrounds in the music world, SXSW and there it was met a ton of positivity. Fans loved the exclusive nature of the prizes they were winning.  Speaking of which, bands can give away whatever they want, a used drum stick, concert tickets, cd’s, demos whatever.

Most people know that indie music fans, real indie music fans not fake ass hipsters, go all in on their favorite bands and support them anyway they can. Soundstache gets them off the couch and out from behind the macbook, onto the street looking for “staches”.

In between his hard touring schedule Redmond just went through the Seed Hatchery accelerator program. Here’s their investor day pitch video.

Sign up for soundstache at

Here are more SeedHatchery stories at The Voice Of Startups Everywhere Else.


Indiana Couple Pitches Their Startup, Boosterville, At Seed Hatchery Demo Day

boostervilleAttracting great talent to an accelerator that doesn’t have the name Techstars or YCombinator in it can be a difficult task. Attracting great talent that’s already had success in the startup space can be even more daunting. That’s what happened in the case of Indiana startup Boosterville.

I actually met Pam Cooper the CEO and co-founder of Boosterville, while it was still called Sodbuster, on Brad Feld’s Hacker News alternative site, the startup hub. Pam and I quickly became friends. It was then I learned that she was a little more “seasoned” than other founders, having started a very successful small business in Indiana. Her quick wit and thought provoking questions made it easy to interact with her on an online platform.

Pam decided that despite a failed attempt at Indianapolis startup conference “Powder Keg” her and her co-founder/CTO husband, Tom Cooper, would make the trek to Memphis for The Startup Conference. At the same time we were accepting applications for Seed Hatchery and I quickly introduced her to the organizations leader, Eric Mathews, and they got in.

We learned through the vetting process that Tom was actually the founding CTO of question and answer site Cha-Cha. He also has a long resume of engineering work at several successful startups and companies. The Cooper’s have done well. They’ve got kids in college, a rather large home in Indiana, oh and Tom has his own plane as well. So why come all the way to Memphis for an accelerator?Great question, the answer: For the accelerator.

From day one both Pam and Tom dove head first into the curriculum, learning, sharing and development that is offered through the Seed Hatchery program.  They took criticism like the best of them, often times from leaders and mentors that didn’t have even a fraction of the startup experience that Tom had. Both Cooper’s have said over and over again how much they’ve learned here in Memphis.

“I really didn’t know what to expect, so we went for it and Seed Hatchery was the best thing we’ve done for our company” Tom told us in an interview.

During the accelerator the coopers went through a name change, a huge pivot and even worked hand in hand with MBA students for discovery, and to help refine their product.

Boosterville combines digital wallet with loyalty and rewards and all for the benefit of schools and non profits. Using Dwolla, another midwest startup, as their mobile wallet conduit, users sign up for a school they want to donate to. From there they can see a list of merchants in their community that use the Boosterville platform. When they make a purchase at one of the establishments in the program, they check out using their phone, the merchant gets paid, the school gets a donation and Boosterville takes a small cut.

“Putting children who are now grown, through school I’ve seen my share of wrapping paper and World’s Finest Chocolate Bars”, Pam loves to tell anyone who will listen. Of course we all agree.

The company is a great mesh of Pam’s community minded nature and business savvy, with Tom’s over three decades of programming experience.

What’s next for Boosterville, well while Tom has an open invitation to return full time to his engineering job in Indiana, they are going to continue to raise money and bring Boosterville to live.

Check out their investor day pitch video below:


Find out more about Boosterville here at

We’ve got more Seed Hatchery coverage here. 


Memphis Woman Takes Her Startup Pink Robin Avenue From 48 Hour Launch To Black Enterprise Pitch Finals

Pink Robin Avenue, Memphis Startup,Danielle Inez,Black Enterprise Entrepreneur Conference,startupIn 10 days thousands of entrepreneurs will convene in Columbus Ohio for the biggest celebration of African American entrepreneurship in the country. The Black Enterprise Entrepreneur’s Conference and Expo is four days of celebrating startups, and small businesses led by some of the brightest entrepreneurs in the country.

Names like Robert Johnson (BET), Daymond John (Fubu/Shark Tank) and Magic Johnson are staples within the pages of Black Enterprise Magazine and in the halls of the conference in years past, and present.

One of the biggest attractions at the conference is the Elevator Pitch Competition. Entrepreneurs with new startups and small businesses have 60 seconds to pitch a vetting panel and if selected, a panel of judges on site at the conference. 10 semifinalists have been selected from across the country. Those semifinalists will have 60 seconds to pitch the judges. Then, they will eliminate five of the semifinalists and the remaining five will pitch the judges for 30 seconds. After the 30 second pitches, there is a Q&A session with the judges and then one entrepreneur will win $10,000 to help grow their company.

Danielle Inez, Memphis native and founder of Pink Robin Avenue, has been selected as one of the ten semifinalists. Her startup is a tech hybrid that allows users to order everything they need for the perfect party online and in one box. Their favors, decorations, theme pieces, and everything else they need for the perfect event is then delivered to their home.

Inez initially pitched the concept in Memphis at the Upstart 48 Hour Launch in December. Her idea was quickly chosen to develop out over the 48 hour hackathon. By Sunday afternoon she had won the weekend competition. Early feedback recognized how valuable Pink Robin Avenue would be, especially for busy people.

The founder is also key to the success of Pink Robin Avenue. Inez owns a PR company that specializes in high profile, luxury and celebrity events. Inez also spent part of her career as a wedding planner with exquisit taste and is incredibly organized with an eye for design, and detail that many people are just too busy to notice.

danielle2Inez is a busy woman. She spends her days tending to the details of her PR firm, diPR which includes a mixed portfolio of clients that touch the luxury world, celebrities and even non profit organizations. She spends another full time jobs’ worth of hours working on Pink Robin Avenue.

Although relatively new to the startup space, Inez has been an entrepreneur her entire life. She got a taste of entrepreneurism and non profits when she started a company focusing on mentoring with her mother. Inez put herself through college helping people plan weddings, events and eventually pivoting that business to the PR company.

Now Inez is ecstatic that a magazine that’s been inspiring her since high school has selected her in the contest. “I’m amazed! I’ve followed the contest for a couple of years and I’ve read the magazine since high school. I’m so happy to be able to represent my city and my network of entrepreneurs from the main stage.” Inez told in an interview.

Inez brings a well versed pitch with a bubbly personality, and she knows her stuff, but above all she’s a fierce competitor; “I’m extremely competitive, so first and foremost, I wanna win! This is also an incredible opportunity for exposure for my business and myself; I plan to plant the seed for potentially valuable connections. Last – but certainly not least – I hope to inspire someone else to step out of their comfort zone and take advantage of the platforms that can help grow their business.”

Inez is one of the founding members of Memphis’ Upstart program. Upstart is initiative set in place by Launch Your City and focuses on empowering women entrepreneurs. Elizabeth Lemmonds is the Chief Relationship Office for Launch Your City and the Director for Upstart. She’s been working closely with Inez since December.

” Ever since Danielle brought Pink Robin Avenue into the Launchpad and to our female founder 48 Hour Launch, I’ve been impressed with both her concept and her sheer tenacity. This remarkable opportunity is a testament to both. I’m proud to have worked with her and look forward to the huge things ahead for Pink Robin Avenue!” Lemmonds told us.

Inez’ Pink Robin Avenue and other startups like Mentor Me, currently accelerating in the Seed Hatchery program are a testament to the fast success Upstart Memphis has seen.

The finals for the Black Entreprise Elevator Pitch contest are bitter sweet for Inez who will miss Seed Hatchery’s Demo Day while she is pitching in Columbus at the Black Enterprise Event. “I can’t believe I’m going to miss Brittany’s pitch (Mentor Me), Brit’sbusinss has evolved into something that seems incredibly profitable”. Mentor Me was one of the other startups selected to build out at that Upstart 48 Hour Launch event where Pink Robin Avenue was born.

Here’s Pink Robin Avenue’s second ever pitch at 48 Hour Launch.

Check out Pink Robin Avenue here.

We’ve been tracking Inez and Pink Robin Avenue since day 1 find out more here at


Myth Busters: Money Does Not Grow On Trees In Silicon Valley [video]

Neil Parikh,Communly,Silicon Valley,startup,startup tips,launchyourcity

Communly co-founder Neil Parikh talks with Memphis based entrepreneur Ryan Ramkhelawan at the LaunchLounge on location in Silicon Valley (photo: NMI 2013)

We just wrapped up the LaunchYourCity, mission to Silicon Valley. On that trip we spent lots of time connecting to investors, accelerators, incubators, entrepreneurs and startup founders from San Francisco to Mountain View and everywhere in between.

As the voice of startups everywhere else, we kept our minds open throughout the trip and soaked up every nook and cranny of information that we could.

In working with hundreds of startups across the country, and around the world (everywhere else), we have found that a lot of people think money grows on trees in the valley.

In talking with a variety of Silicon Valley based startups in various stages we found that, that’s not the case. In some cases it’s actually harder to raise money in the valley because there’s much more competition.

Silicon Valley is like the Hollywood of statups. Founders move to Silicon Valley in droves in hopes of getting their big idea discovered.  It certainly isn’t that easy.

You have to figure for every idea out there, there are three more people working on that same thing. Sure the biggest VC’s are based in Silicon Valley but they’re getting pitched every minute of everyday. One VC we spoke with said he, like Mark Cuban, routinely gets pitched in the bathroom.

Sure all startups are looking for their big funding break and all VC’s are looking for the next Facebook or Instagram, but the chances that the two will connect are very difficult.

More than one startup founder told us that they had raised money at home, and thought that was the signal that they were ready to raise in Silicon Valley and now they’ve moved onto another startup.

There are several factors that could account for this happening. One is that when you grow your startup in your hometown and can pick up any bit of local traction, your local investors know you. They’ve seen you grow and seen your failures and victories. When you venture out to Silicon Valley you quickly become just another startup.

There’s also a much better chance that an angel or VC in Silicon Valley has heard your particular idea hundreds of times, where your local investors have only heard it once, from you.

Does this mean that you shouldn’t move to Silicon Valley? Not necessarily there are advantages too that we’ll be posting about later. This is definitely some nourishing food for thought though.

We got a chance to talk to 21 year old serial entrepreneur Neil Parikh of Communly about the myth that money grows on trees in Silicon Valley. Check out the video below and check out communly here.

 Find a lot more great startup tips here at

American Airlines Takes Notice Of Tennessee’s 9 Accelerator Regions

American Airlines, Launch Tennessee, LaunchTN, Startup Tennessee,Startup AmericaAmerican Airlines is truly committed to startups and innovation. They are a corporate sponsor of Startup America and offer a huge benefit to Startup America members who sign up for their free Business ExtrAA rewards plan.

American has relationships with several startup organizations and entrepreneurs across the country have noticed there efforts. In 2012 American entered into a partnership with startup and technology blog and events company TechCocktail. They’ve provided sponsored transportation for several startup related events across the country including flights to DEMO in Santa Clara and last year’s SXSW. They know what it’s like for boot strapped entrepreneurs and startups.

Over the summer American Airlines partnered with Startup America for a huge contest. The video contest asked that startups and entrepreneurs tell a story about how travel connection has helped their business. They gave over half a million Business ExtrAA points away with the grand prize winner getting 100,000 points which was good for 50 round trip tickets. That’s a lot of conferences and investor meetings.

American Airlines has now taken notice of Tennessee’s nine startup accelerator regions and Startup Tennessee, the second Startup America Region. Launch Tennessee the public/private partnership that oversees the 9 accelerator region has entered into a relationship with American Airlines.

The company has also entered into a relationship with LaunchYourCity (LaunchMemphis), and The Startup Conference. American is helping an initiative for LaunchMemphis that will see local Memphis entrepreneurs venture out to Silicon Valley for a four day outreach trip.

Through and The Startup Conference American will be sponsoring the 2014 conference including offering a considerable discount to those traveling on American to the conference (February 17-19th 2014 in Memphis). To take full advantage of the discount attendees should sign up for the free Business ExtrAA program.  The discount will be announced in the coming days (and it’s a good one).

While every traveller doesn’t always have the experience they want no matter what airline they travel on, we are always hearing stories about how American Airlines has come through for our fellow entrepreneurs. On stage at The Startup Conference, Lean Entrepreneur co-author Brant Cooper talked about a string of delays in getting to the conference. Rather than waiting for Cooper to complain, he reported on stage that American Airlines went proactive and gave him a number of extra Business ExtrAA points for the trouble.

For more information on the benefits American Airlines offers Startup America members sign up for Startup America at and look under the member benefit section.

Memphis’ ZeroTo510 Accelerator Opens Applications For 2013

Restore Medical Solutions, Urova, Bioworks, ZeroTo510,Seed Hatchery, Allan Daisley

Shawn Flynn, co-founder of Restore Medical Solutions, pitches at ZeroTo510 investor day, a pitch that led to $2.5 Million dollars in follow on funding (photo: NMI)

Last year, the inaugural Zeroto510 medical device accelerator was met with phenomenal success. Five out of the six participating teams received follow on funding. Four of the teams received $100,000 dollars. The fifth team, Restore Medical Solutions, went straight to raising a Series A round at $2.5 million.

With results like those, medical device startups across the country are feverishly preparing to submit their applications for the next cohort. One of the secrets to the success of the Zeroto510 program is that it is a joint venture between Launch Your City’s Seed Hatchery accelerator and Memphis Bioworks. Bioworks supplies the lab space, and the deep rooted scientific and engineering mentorship. Launch Your City comes in with the curriculum to prepare the startups for pitching and success on the business side of the world.

When compared to other medical based accelerator and incubation programs, Zeroto510, through their unique partnership, is able to get their startup founders to communicate and pitch at a level understandable to the traditional investor, media and public. In a medically based program, founders and entrepreneurs with scientific and engineering backgrounds tend to get the science, and not necessarily the business.

Bioworks is able to offer a bridge from the surrounding medical community including St. Jude’s, Methodist, Vanderbilt University, the University of Memphis and other high ranking leaders in science and medicine, to offer hands on mentorship to refine these great ideas.

Zeroto510 gets it’s name from the FDA’s 510(k) pre-market notification filing. In laymen’s terms this filing allows medical device companies, with similar technology to something that has gone through FDA approval, to fast track a process which can sometimes take 3-5 years.

Six companies will be selected for the 2013 program. Each company will receive $50,000 in initial seed capital and be part of an intensive, mentorship driven 12 week program of instruction and hands on activities to guide the entrepreneurs through the process.

One of the other factors that makes Zeroto510 successful is the cohort size. By having a smaller group, the same size as the tech accelerator Seed Hatchery, the teams get to know each other better and collaborate more meaningfully. Last years program only featured one Memphis based startup. The other five startups relocated to Memphis for the program and are still, growing their companies in Memphis.

“We received applications from across the United States, carefully selected our six
participants and were very pleased with the quality of their ideas, the spirit of comradery that developed, the levels of learning, and, in the end, with the final presentations that resulted in additional funding. We expect even higher quality in 2013.” said Allan Daisley, director of entrepreneurship and sustainability for Memphis Bioworks.

If you’ve got a medical device startup head over to apply here at


Are Accelerators from “Everywhere Else” Better at Producing Groundbreaking Innovation? Maybe. Here’s Why GUEST POST

Accelerators, Startups, Cliff McKinney, Work For Pie, Seed Hatchery, Memphis startupsThere’s been a lot of press lately about the lack of true, groundbreaking innovation in Silicon Valley. I don’t think that’s completely true, but reading about it made me think a bit about the nature of innovation and whether the current system is built to foster it.

I live in this little city called Memphis and we have a small but growing tech community and a great little startup accelerator called Seed Hatchery that is currently taking applications for its third class.

Now the thing about Seed Hatchery is that it doesn’t get near the number of applicants as a Y Combinator or a TechStars or even some of the less well-known accelerators. They’re okay with that and they’re okay with plugging along and making improvements year after year and meeting goals and milestones that are at a somewhat smaller scale. And there are a lot of accelerators just like Seed Hatchery, all over the world.

There have been arguments made that these accelerators will die out. That may be true for some. But I happen to think that before they do they will have trained and produced more innovative entrepreneurs than some of their larger counterparts. Why? Because, generally, the enrollees in these programs have a high appetite for risk to begin with, and because they won’t have that appetite beaten out of them by the time they finish.

True innovation typically happens at the knife’s edge between failure and success. It doesn’t come from the safer and satisfied middle. That’s good news for tiny accelerators, and may be bad news for some of the more successful ones.

A program that gives me a ton of money, a good to great chance of raising more, and an almost 100% chance of landing softly even if I fail tends to convince even big risk takers to play things a bit more safe. It seems like the opposite should be true, right? I have all these benefits with virtually zero chance of absolute failure, so why shouldn’t I give it a go? But, as we see time and time again, that kind of thinking just doesn’t happen very often.

For these programs, getting in is the big challenge, and once you’ve achieved that you’re granted superstar status. Your success rate jumps to 70% or more. And if the success rate is 70% or more, then beating everyone else isn’t as important as not being in the bottom 30%. So, often enough at least, you don’t build something that has a 10% chance of glorious success. You play it safe. You try not to f$%k it up.

For other programs, by contrast, getting in is potentially easier, but success after graduation is much much harder. A lot of smaller accelerators have one or two companies out of ten successfully raise follow-on funding. When the success rate is that low, the companies tend to take bigger chances in the hopes of finding themselves among those one or two success stories. Except in extraordinary cases, it doesn’t matter what kind of human being you are. The company you build will be different based on whether you’re motivated to succeed above all others or motivated to not screw things up.

Now, before you jump all over me, I will say that there are things that continue to make Y Combinator and TechStars amazing programs, and you would be a fool not to join them if invited. The mentor networks, and the advice participants receive from those mentors, are probably by themselves worth the price of admission. But, imagine for a moment the kinds of companies that might be produced by a Y Combinator should, say, only five to ten of the 80 companies receive follow-on funding. Might that look different? My bet is yes, and that they would be much more groundbreaking.

I’m also betting that the smaller accelerators—so long as they don’t measure success by Y Combinator standards—can produce these kinds of companies. There will be more failures, sure, but that’s okay by me. The near certainty of failure is one the most compelling features.

Author Biography:

Cliff McKinney is CEO of Work for Pie, a company that is changing the way software developers get recruited and hired by changing the way they communicate with

Here’s another take on accelerators “everywhere else” from 

Memphis Startup: AFocusED Path Starts Helping Students With Careers In Middle School

AFocusED Path,Memphis startup,upstart Memphis, Launch Memphis, Startup WeekendAFocusED Path was one of the four startups built during Memphis’ recent 48 Hour Launch for women as part of their new UpStart program.  AFocused Path is essentially a social network surrounding a students academic life, and their support infrastructure. It’s also a great way to keep a child’s support network, no matter how close or far away they live from the child, involved.

Parents of school aged children can sign up for a free profile at AFocusED Path. From there they will add information about the student academically and socially as it related to their child’s development. Report cards, progress reports, key assignments, reports, intramural sports achievements, school play programs, you name it all of this can be added to a child’s AFocusED Path profile.  This will serve as the ultimate archive for a child’s early years.

With all this information collected and displayed in a private social network, families are building an online resume of their child dating back to the earliest years. Long gone are the days of throwing shoeboxes filled with photos away during the next move.

This aspect of the the platform is also great for keeping aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends and other supporters, up to date with a child’s progress, achievements and areas of improvement. Now grandma and grandpa in Florida get to participate more actively in their grandchildren’s lives. If the student got good grades they can leave praise, if they are having a rough period they can be there for support.

Eventually the startup would like to add other key players in a child’s scholastic career in the platform as well. Guidance counselors, teachers, and coaches could all be involved in the overall well being of the child through their school career and then even onto college.

The second part of AFocusED Path is equally as interesting.

Usually when a student hits 8th grade they start getting the first real inclination of what they may want to do when they grow up. Whether the child wants to be a doctor, vet, counselor, entrepreneur or an electrical engineer, AFocusED Path is able to help create a clear plan as to what the child should be doing in their school years to prepare for college in that field.

The system will know what classes to get and what grades to maintain and if that student is underperforming or overachieving when it comes to those goals.

Naturally, starting a career path at 8th grade usually means a pivot or three and AFocusED path can accommodate that pivot and several others. The platform can also let a student and their support system know how hard it will be to change career paths at whatever point they make that decision.

They hope to become the goto social platform for everyone scholastically prior to college.

Denise Davis PHd and Rod DeBerry are the two founders behind this new startup and they are anxious to get it moving. They worked relentlessly with their 48 Hour Launch team to perfect their pitch as well as starting their social media channels. Check out their Friday pitch video:

Here’s the pitch video from Sunday evening:


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Memphis Startup: Pink Robin Avenue Wins Free Booth At

Pink Robin Avenue, Memphis startup, upstart memphis, startup,startups,startup pitchThis weekend was Upstart Memphis’ 48 Hour Launch weekend. Upstart Memphis is the newest initiative for Launch Memphis the catalyst behind all things entrepreneurial and startup in Memphis Tennessee. Upstart Memphis is about helping women entrepreneurs and startup founders through fellowship, education and events. 48 Hour Launch, Memphis’ take on Startup Weekend, was the first big even for the organization.

Launch Memphis has held several 48 Hour Launch events. They function the same way most weekend startup hackathons function. This time was a little different though because all of the ideas pitched needed to be led by women.

Care2Manage, A focusED Path, Mentore.Me and Pink Robin Avenue were the four ideas picked to build throughout the course of the weekend. As you can see from both the Friday and Sunday videos for each startup, they got a lot of work done.

Danielle Inez and her Pink Robin Avenue was the prevailing winner though, even after an original judges tie.

Pink Robin Avenue is an easy way to plan and decorate for an event. For those who like it broken down in it’s simplest form, Pink Robin Avenue is an “event in a box”.

Inez and her team used the weekend to work on their business plan, website, social channels, customer discovery and preparing a great presentation. Inez brought out her bubbly personality and really shut the crowd down with her enthusiastic responses to every part of the Q&A, having a sensible answer for every question thrown her way.

While Inez will initially grow Pink Robin Avenue in Memphis she plans on expanding nationwide and helping people plan events, and get all the decorations they need from top to bottom in a box delivered to their door step, instructions and all.

After checking out her Sunday pitch video you’ll see why she ended up winning a free Startup Village booth at The Startup Conference. Inez will be very busy over the next two months making sure that her idea is ready for prime time and ready to go onstage in front of over 1500 people, 400 of them investors.

As a testament to the weekend startup hackathon building model check out her Friday pitch here:

and here’s her wining Sunday pitch video



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Meet The 4 Women Led Memphis Startups Pitching At 48 Hour Launch

Upstart Memphis, 48 Hour Launch, Memphis startups,startup,startup pitchesMemphis’ Launch Memphis, is holding a 48 Hour Launch made up entirely of startups founded by women. This is part of Launch Memphis’ new Upstart Memphis initiative focused on enriching women entrepreneurs and startups across the midsouth.

In addition to events like this, Upstart Memphis holds a regular women’s entrepreneur meetup and provides access to women founders and entrepreneurs to the organizations free workshops and seminars. Upstart Memphis welcomes entrepreneurs of all types from traditional small businesses to high growth potential startups.

This weekend’s 48 Hour Launch saw traditional high growth startups and a hybrid startup with huge upside potential locally and if it can build scale, nationally as well.


Care2Manage is a web portal and referral service aimed at 30 and 40 somethings who’s parents may be ready for elder care. More and more of the elderly are turning to staying home rather than going into managed care centers, which can be frightening for their children, especially when 100s of miles separate child and parent.

That’s where Care2Manage comes in. This referral site and management platform allows the parent and the children to collaborate together and find the best care providers in the parents’ local area. With the service being based on the web, children from across the country and around the world can be involved in their parents care. Not only that, but Care2Manage will also staff up with 24 hour staff available to the parent or the child, and in some cases both.

Here’s the Friday raw pitch:

focusED Path

This startup plans to be a first in it’s space. Essentially focusED Path is a social network for students and parents to keep up with their scholastic activities. Using focusED path, parents and students can put all of their grades, achievements and assignments online. As the student reaches milestones they can be celebrated as well.

focusED Path takes it’s name from one of it’s key features. At the eighth grade level most students start thinking about careers and the work force. They start solidifying their first “what I want to be when I grow up” plans.

focusED Path takes those ideas and makes recommendations on courses to take and what grade averages are needed to sustain that goal. The system will also help when that student undoubtedly pivots to another career path. The student and the parent can see what changes will need to be made to keep them on the focusED path.

Finally, in their secure network students and parents can share milestones, and victories along with areas the student needs to work on with that student’s support network.

Here’s the Friday Pitch:

Pink Robin Avenue

Pink Robin Avenue is the ultimate event planning tool for the busy person. Professional career minded women, single dads, single parents and anyone who’s day to day makes them too busy to plan a party can easily use Pink Robin Avenue to design an event in a box and have the party they’ve dreamt about in just a few clicks.

The founder of Pink Robin Avenue, Danielle Inez, put together the idea when she found that with her social calendar and PR consulting firm she didn’t have enough time to think of things like cake toppers, decorations, and party favors.

Check out the Friday pitch:

Brittney Fitzpatrick has noticed that there is a huge flaw in mentoring. One of her close colleagues is in charge of administering a very big mentor program in Memphis Tennessee and told Fitzpartrick that most of the mentor matching she does is strictly baed on what’s on a sheet of paper. For so many reasons this process is flawed. plans on taking profiles for the mentor and the mentee and using algorithms to better match the two.

With a mentee will be able to better address and get more indepth about their needs in a mentor. The mentor will also be able to better see if they’re a match or not. will help both mentors and mentees waist a lot less time and get right into mentoring, which is what they’re supposed to do.

Check out’s Friday Pitch.


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