Tennessee’s Governor Bill Haslam Announces The TENN Top Startups In Statewide Program

TENN, Launch Tennessee, Startups, startup accelerator, Tennessee startupTuesday saw the final pitch off for Launch Tennessee’s TENN program. Launch Tennessee is a public/private partnership that helps organize, administer and provide resources to nine accelerator regions across the state of Tennessee.

With so many accelerators in one single state, Launch Tennessee teamed up with the Blackstone Foundation to hold a “super accelerator” of sorts simply called The TENN.  Startups that went through one of the accelerator programs in Tennessee within the last 12 months were eligible to compete in a statewide competition to name the best of the best.

Earlier this month Launch Tennessee announced 20 finalists from across east, middle and western Tennessee.  The 20 startups chosen as finalists represented a variety of technological and entrepreneurial fields including general tech, social, medical, medical device, life sciences and even publishing.

On Tuesday the startups in the top 20 pitched off in front of a panel of outside investors that included: Sabeer Bhatia, chairman and CEO of Sabse/Jaxtr and founder and former CEO of Hotmail; John McIlwraith, managing partner at Cincinnati, Ohio-based Allos Ventures; John Greathouse, general partner at Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Rincon Venture Partners; Sig Mosley, managing partner at Atlanta, Ga.-based Mosley Ventures; Bob Crutchfield, partner at Birmingham, Ala.-based Harbert Ventures; and Mike Tatum, serial entrepreneur and CEO of Workbus.

At the end of the day Governor Bill Haslam called up the top 10 startups who were named to the TENN;

  • eClinic (Nashville)
  • Got You In (Nashville)
  • Gun.io (Nashville)
  • Hatponics (Knoxville)
  • Health & Bliss (Memphis)
  • Mobilizer (Memphis)
  • Screwpulp (Memphis)
  • Survature (Knoxville)
  • Vendor Registry (East Tennessee”
  • View Medical  (Memphis)

These 10 startups will participate in the TENN program which includes a statewide bus trip to meet some of the biggest companies, entrepreneurs and business leaders across the state, trips to New York and Silicon Valley and office space at their local accelerator or incubator. They will also have access to mentors and other resources to continue taking their post accelerator companies to the next level.

Congratulations to all the startups that made the list.



Put Congress In Your Pocket With This Nashville Startup

PocketCongress, Nashville startup, startup interview

With smartphones in the pockets of tens of millions of people, information is extremely easy to obtain. You don’t even need to wait to get home to check something on the internet. You just reach into your pocket and hit Google or whatever your favorite information source is.

The information age, the internet age ,and now the mobile age has made government more accessible, and with that accessibility becomes accountability. Long gone are the days that any Congressman or other elected official can just sneak something passed the people.  When a bill is before Congress, voted on, or signed, you can find all the information about it online. You can look it up on your phone as well.

Now a Nashville Startup called PocketCongress is looking to streamline all that information into an easy-to-use app.  SouthernAlpha reports that David Swift was watching the news one night and wanted to look up further information on some legislation that was just reported on. He found the process of finding that information more cumbersome than he thought it should be. To make it easier he created PocketCongress.

We talk with Swift in the interview below.

What is your startup called?

Pocket Congress

What does your company do?

We are an easily accessible research tool for Congressional information. Search various ways in both legislation and legislator fields.

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds

I, David Swift, am a local business owner in Nashville and am constantly looking to become more involved in the tech world. I concocted this idea in early 2011 and refined it over the next few years. In August of last year, I connected with an old high school classmate, Joey Vadala. Joey is a long-time techie and computer genius, even since the high school days. He’s built a few apps and I was impressed. Looking for someone who would build the app for profit equity AND pull off a simplistic, usable UI/UX, Joey was a great fit. Joey absolutely crushed the fine design details and construction of the app. I handle the business aspect of things, marketing, etc. and Joey is working on 2.0 for Pocket Congress.

Where are you based?

Nashville, TN

What’s the startup scene like where you are based?

Fantastic. There’s a lot of old money here, nearly all of it concentrated on the health care industry. That tide is slowly turning with all kinds of tech start ups popping up here and there. The new building of the Entrepreneur Center is magnifying a lot of start ups that wouldn’t get the attention otherwise.

What problem do you solve?

We solve the lack of true government transparency and the inability for the casual news-watcher to gather any real content on what’s being reported on their TV, what’s being voted on in their capital, and ultimately what’s affecting their lives on a daily basis. The entire concept of Pocket Congress is to further true government transparency and to aid in involving the casual political observer. The app is easy enough to navigate for a casual news watcher, but has enough information for a political junkie. The information is out there and is researchable, but not easily and quickly. Pocket Congress allows not only quick research & reference, but also tracking of legislation and social sharing of all information. Real government accountability and transparency must be done by the people, not the government.

Our app searches both Members and Legislation. In Members, one can search via: current location, name, ZIP code, committee, state, or browse. In Legislation, one can search via: HOT bills, number, locally sponsored, keyword, recent actions, and type. You can read actual legislation via .pdf. Anyone can interact with local senators and representatives by easily accessing their Twitter feed, biography, district map, committees, and all their social media outlets. One of my favorite features is the ability to tweet directly to a senator, send them an email, or call their office directly from the app.

Why now?

We need it now more than ever. (How many times have you heard that?) There are now more iPhone users in existence now than ever before. As a country, that’s more ready access than has ever been provided in the past. Never has Congressional members and the legislation they pass been so easy to access and share. Our phones are always with us, so an app is truly the timeliest way to access this type of information and a real vehicle for government transparency.

What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?

We have been featured in SouthernAlpha’s blog. We are followed on Twitter by a few Washington Post journalists, and have been retweeted by Congressional members, most notably Darrell Issa. After being in the App Store for 5 days, Apple chose us as a New and Noteworthy app in the Reference section. We currently headline the Reference section in the App Store.

What are your next milestones?

A segment on Mike Huckabee on FOX. We have a connection to him particularly, as I worked with him personally on his last book signing tour over a course of three weeks. He’s a large government transparency advocate. We would then like to leverage that appearance to other media outlets, including other politically-charged TV shows.

Where can people find out more? Any social media links you want to share?

Website: http://pocketcongressapp.com

iTunes short URL: https://itun.es/us/VgmgL.i

Joey’s personal page: joeyvadala.com




The 20 Best Accelerated Startups In Tennessee Make The TENN Finals

TENN, Launch Tennessee, Startup, AcceleratorLaunch Tennessee, the private/public partnership that oversees 9 accelerators across the state, is running a “super accelerator” of sorts, appropriately called the TENN. The TENN starts off with a statewide demo day on August 27th in Nashville. At that event, 20 startups, announced on Thursday, will pitch their business.

A group of  national investors and entrepreneurs will narrow that field from 20 to 10 at the statewide event.  The demo day investor panel includes Sabeer Bhatia, chairman and CEO of Sabse/Jaxtr and founder and former CEO of Hotmail; John McIlwraith, managing partner at Cincinnati, Ohio-based Allos Ventures; John Greathouse, general partner at Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Rincon Venture Partners; Sig Mosley, managing partner at Atlanta, Ga.-based Mosley Ventures; Bob Crutchfield, partner at Birmingham, Ala.-based Harbert Ventures; and Mike Tatum, serial entrepreneur and CEO of Workbus. Governor Bill Haslam will announce the 10 companies that will comprise The TENN.

After the TENN is announced they will embark on a statewide bus tour, parading the startups in front of the state’s biggest companies and innovators. The TENN group will also have access to a master mentor network pulling from all nine accelerators. The TENN startups will also receive free office space, either at one of the regional accelerator headquarters or receive a subsidy for office space.

Launch Tennessee partnered with the Blackstone Foundation to hold the TENN program.

Here are the 20 finalists for the TENN program:

East Tennessee (6):

Vendor Registry
Renewable Algal Energy

Middle Tennessee (9) :

InCrowd Capital
Got You In
Green Dot Charging
March Fuels

West Tennessee (5):

ADVANCE Inventions
Health & Bliss
View Medical

“These 20 startups are an exceptional representation of the innovative and promising ideas emerging from Tennessee’s accelerator programs,” said Launch Tennessee CEO Charlie Brock. “From the quality and diversity of applications submitted across the state, it is apparent that Tennessee’s network of accelerators, which is unique in the nation and Launch Tennessee helps fund, is working well.”

You can find out more about Launch Tennessee at LaunchTn.org



Memphis Woman Led Startup MentorMe Headed West for A NewMe

MentorMe, Brittany Fitzpatrick, NewMe Accelerator, Memphis startup

Last year, just before Christmas we got a chance to help with the Upstart 48 Hour Launch event in Memphis, Tennessee. This event, like Startup Weekend events, was a weekend-long startup building hackathon with a twist. The twist? It was for women-led startup projects only.

We saw several great startups. Some are still going strong, and we even met our employee #1 at that event.  Danielle Inez’ Pink Robin Avenue ended up winning the weekend competition and a free booth at Everywhereelse.co The Startup Conference. Another great startup we saw was Mentor.Me, or just MentorMe now.

While the startup, led by Memphis woman Brittany Fitzpatrick, didn’t win the competition, Fitzpatrick immediately turned on her entrepreneurial prowess and before the end of the evening she had crowdfunded, in person, her own booth for the conference.  That showed what kind of passionate, hardworking entrepreneur Fitzpatrick really is.

MentorMe is a matching service for mentors and mentee’s, kind of like “match.com for mentors.” Fitzpatrick has a strong background in mentorship and quickly discovered that mentor/mentee mismatch was a huge problem nationwide.

Fitzpatrick ended up quitting her job at Ronald McDonald House Children’s Charities and going all in with her startup. She went through the spring session at the Memphis-based Seed Hatchery accelerator and continued to grind.

Marston-1Last month Fitzpatrick participated in the NewMe Pop-Up accelerator in Memphis, where her startup MentorMe came in 3rd place.   That win also got her a spot in the NewMe accelerator program in Silicon Valley, which starts next week.

NewMe is an invite-only 12-week accelerator for technology startups led by underrepresented minorities. Private investment firm CB Insights reported in 2010 that African Americans represented just 1 percent of Internet company founders nationally. Furthermore, although women represent more than 50% of the U.S. population, they represent only 35 percent of those launching their own ventures.

“As an African-American woman and a tech startup founder, I am always happy to align myself with efforts to change the ratio so that we can create a startup community that is more reflective of the diversity we see in the community-at-large,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement.

“From upstart 48 hour launch last winter, through Seed Hatchery I’ve had the privilege of seeing both Mentor.me and Brittany grow from idea to full fledged startup. Brittany quit her day job, dug in, and made this opportunity happen for her. We’ll miss her for the few months while she’s out west for the NewMe Accelerator, but we’re looking forward to her coming back home to Memphis and being another success story for the Memphis startup ecosystem,” Seed Hatchery Managing Director Eric Mathews told Nibletz.

Find out more about MentorMe here at getmentorme.com


Nashville Is Great. Ohio Is Too. This Guy Is Oblivious.

Cleveland Startup, Nashville Startup, startup, startups, Ohio, Tennessee

On Saturday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer ran a guest post by Dr. Jeffery Canter. Canter is a retired professor of molecular physiology and biophysics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and a consultant for many healthcare startups in Nashville.

Apparently Canter lived  in Ohio before Nashville. In his piece Canter criticizes Ohio as a whole and offers a laundry list of tips to keep it’s talent, which he says Ohio is giving to Tennessee for free. All of this is based on people Canter has met who relocated to Nashville to launch their businesses. Canter makes a point that Ohio has paid for these people twice:  “First, you paid for educations that were far better than ones these new Tennesseans would have received in Nashville. Second, these productive young people removed themselves from your tax base and left you behind to pay even higher taxes.”

At Nibletz our mission is clear: to give a voice to startups everywhere else.  With offices in both Memphis and Cincinnati, we know a lot about the ecosystems of each state.

Tennessee has an impressive startup ecosystem. They were the second state region in the Startup America Partnership. There are 9 accelerator regions across the state that are administered by a public private partnership called Launch Tennessee. There are several incubator and accelerator programs, with the biggest being GigTank (Chattanooga), Jumpstart Foundry (Nashville), Seed Hatchery (Memphis), and Zeroto510 (also Memphis).

If you think there’s a lot of entrepreneurial and startup activity in Tennessee, you’re absolutely right, but some believe that Ohio has even more going on.

For starters the Brandery in Cincinnati is one of the top 10 startup accelerators in the country. Cincinnati also has the new Cintrifuse initiative, CincyTech for capital, and regularly holds events like Startup Weekend.

Traveling north, Columbus also has it’s share of exciting startup activities and initiatives. Columbus is home to not one but three accelerators; 1492, 10x, and the Founder’s Factory. TechColumbus is one of the driving forces behind the startup scene, and there are also plenty of resources for capital.

Move a little further north to Cleveland and there’s still NO shortage of startup activity. In fact the nationwide non-profit startup acceleration organization, Jumpstart Inc, is headquartered in Cleveland. Then again there’s not just one but two startup accelerators: LaunchHouse and the new FlashStarts founded by Cleveland serial entrepreneur Charles Stack.



So, what makes a good ecosystem?

Gary Hardin at Knoxville startup BounceIt tweeted us the other day, after we ran Entrepreneur Magazine’s 7 best places to startup. Hardin thought that Tennessee should be on that list because there’s no income tax. Makes logical sense, right? Maybe.

As all of our readers know, during the nationwide sneaker strapped road trip, we’ve seen nearly 100 different startup ecosystems in person and are often asked where would we move if we could go anywhere. We chose Memphis, and at that time we had no idea there was no income tax in Tennessee.

When a startup chooses an accelerator or to relocate for one reason or the other, it’s typically resource or industry related. Nashville is hot for medical devices (you’re probably thinking music, but medical devices definitely prevail). If I needed help with branding, I’d move to Cincinnati; automotive, yes we’d still move to Detroit, Government relations or government sales, DC and so on.

Native Memphian Sarah Lacy penned a column just days after her trip to Nashville’s Southland conference entitled “Memo to non-Valley, non-NYC ecosystems: No one you want cares about cost of living.” And guess what, they don’t. Facebook Co-Founder Dustin Moskovitz also says he wouldn’t move somewhere just for optimized taxes. In fact he said this 13 months before Lacy’s article.

Are the Plain Dealer and Dr. Canter just oblivious to what’s going on around them in the startup space?

There are two certain things certain in life: death and taxes. In general, startups are oblivious to both.

Where ever you are, you need to make plans to attend this startup conference for startups everywhere else.






Image credits: Nashville  Cleveland

The Anew School Gives American Boys Hope In Africa

Nashville startup, NewMe Accelerator, Memphis startup, Education, AfricaHere at Nibletz, we cover mostly high-growth technology startups. Even with a lot of noise in the space, we ultimately believe these are the ventures that are shaping our world.

But, every so often we come across a different kind of venture that we just can’t help but write about. Last month I attended the Demo Day of the Memphis edition of the NewME PopUp Accelerator. I was blown away by the great ideas and the caliber of entrepreneurs in the room. One in particular is not starting a tech company. In fact, she’s going into education, a rocky field at best. But, I was so impressed by her and her venture, I couldn’t help but share it with Nibletz readers.

Marston-1Alexandria Lee knows firsthand what it’s like to grow up struggling. The daughter of a single mom and a drug addict dad, her story could have been one of the thousands of tragedies happening in American schools every day. Except for that one teacher who challenged her to do more. Thanks to him–a transplant from Senegal–she switched to honors classes and surprised everyone by graduating not just from high school, but also from Spelman College and Harvard Law School.

Now, Nashville-based Lee has a new vision for education for African-American boys.

“9% of black males in the 8th grade can read at a proficient level,” she said in her NewME pitch. Well, obviously, that’s not acceptable.

Lee’s solution is to open a school in Ghana and transplant at-risk boys for a few years of out-of-their-element education. Besides honors-level classes, the boys will be paired with a local student to learn leadership and entrepreneurship. They will work together to devise community action plans that solve real problems in the local community. The school wants to teach African-American boys where their roots really are, not in the tragedy of slavery, but in the deserts of Africa.

“Our goal is to transform discarded youth into community leaders. Our students will come into the program underperforming. We will first catch them up, and then excel them past their classmates back home. But, more than just academic gap closure, our students will be trained in emotional competence, given the desire to serve others, and learn manhood lessons. At an early age they will become global citizens and return to their communities with broadened horizons, prepared to begin finding solutions to ills within their own communities,” Lee told me in an email.

The Anew School will receive charter school funding from the state of Tennessee, but they will also supplement with donations from private foundations. They already have some land in Ghana and will begin building soon.

Check out The Anew School on Facebook and Twitter.

Other great things happen in Memphis, like the biggest startup conference in the world for startups everywhere else.


Chattanooga Startup QuickCue Secures Major Partnership With Mellow Mushroom

QuickCue, Chattanooga Startup,Startup,Startup News, Mellow Mushroom

We’ve seen quite a few startups that are trying to help improve the restaurant experience. There are a lot of “wait list” startups. We reported on Chicago based NoWait app just last week. The challenge for these startups is the ability to penetrate the restaurant industry, and they have to take care of the entire host stand experience, not just the wait list.

That’s how Chattanooga-based QuickCue was able to secure a deal with Atlanta-based Mellow Mushroom that spans the entire chain and future locations to come.


QuickCue is a host stand app that allows the host or hostess at a restaurant to take a guest’s name, add them to the wait list and then notify them by text message that their table is ready. This allows guests to go elsewhere while waiting. They could go to nearby shopping or even run errands. Rather than being tethered to a pager, their phone lets them know when their table is ready.

QuickCue also offers an entire suite of features and analytics for the restaurant itself. According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, restaurants can even create customer profiles. With these profiles they can make notes on where customers like to sit, what they order, how frequently they visit, and how many people usually dine with them.

The restaurant also has a vital piece of information from every guest in the QuickCue system: their phone number. Now not only can the restaurant notify the customer when their table is ready, they can also market them deals by text message as well. What if the kitchen crashes? Now a restaurant can let the customer know there’s been a slight delay and offer them a coupon instantly for a free drink.

bounceit-sponsorThe potential for a restaurant using QuickCue is almost infinite. The startup’s attention to customer service is what made the partnership with Mellow Mushroom a natural fit.
“One of our core values is providing excellent customer service,” David Danowitz, Mellow Mushroom’s director of operations, told the Times Free Press. “Mellow fans often will drive 100 miles to get to the nearest location, so we need to deliver a quality product and an awesome guest experience every time. Quickcue has a similar approach, which made partnering with them as the exclusive provider of our host stand technology an easy decision.”

QuickCue is being installed in all 100 of Mellow Mushroom’s existing locations and will also be integrated into future locations. Mellow Mushroom plans on opening 200 new locations each year for the foreseeable future.


Find out why the inventor of ethernet will be in Chattanooga next month.


Memphis Startup Xtrant Could Be The Tumblr of Project Management

Xtrant, Memphis startup,startup,tumblrAt SXSW David Karp talked about his motivation for building Tumblr.

I tried all of the great tools that were around at the time—WordPress, Blogger—and obviously all the specialized tools—Flickr for photos and YouTube for videos—and I kept falling down. I was perfectly happy with all these tools but at the same time, constantly frustrated by the limitations imposed by all of them.

So, with that love/hate thing going on, Karp set out to iterate on the “tumblelog,” and turned it into a business worth $1.1 billion dollars (at least to Yahoo).

The guys behind project management company Xtrant feel the same way. Email, Dropbox, and chat all have their good parts, but they also all have frustrating limitations. (Missing email thread, anyone?)

Back in February, before I joined the Nibletz team, I helped a friend get ready to show her startup in everywhereelse.co’s Startup Village. In the months leading up to the conference, we used the soft launch version of Xtrant to keep our team organized and on task.

That version worked really well for us. My friend was able to upload diagrams of the booth, logos she had designed, and schedules of our milestones. We kept a running conversation on the project page, as well as a calendar for all our meetings. It was far better than 50 emails for each task.

Over the last few months, though, Xtrant has rolled out several new features that make the experience even better.

  • MEMPHIS-1Person status–Now users can see someone’s contact info and when they last visited the project page.
  • Pending/Send Reminder & Invite Permissions–You can see if someone hasn’t accepted the invite to a project yet and send them an email reminder. You can also allow other users to invite their team members.
  • Email Notifications–This is probably the biggest change to date, and one that is a huge win for UX. Previously the emails simply noted that the project had been changed. So, you had to click over, sign in, and find out if the change involved you or not. Now the emails are well-designed, with a brief rundown of the actions taken. Of course, you still click over to the page if you need to be involved, but if the changes don’t concern you, you can keep moving.
  • Coming soon: iOS and Android apps

Like Tumblr, Xtrant is iterating on many other project management systems. By making themselves both a “social media for work” and a “project/task management” platform, they are also streamlining the work experience, getting rid of a lot of the clunky-ness we deal with every day. With these new features, they could be poised to live up to their promise.

Sign your team up for Xtrant and keep an eye out for mobile apps this summer.


Nashville Opens New 22,000 Square Foot Entrepreneur Center

Nashville Entrepreneur Center, Entrepreneur Center, Michael Burcham
Michael Burcham is a Nashville serial entrepreneur, angel investor, Startup Tennessee director, and Director of the Entrepreneur Center. On Thursday Burcham opened their new 22,000 square foot facility in the converted trolley barn at Rolling Mill Hill. The mayor, the governor, and Startup America founding CEO and Priceline founding CTO, Scott Case, were on hand for the opening of the new facility.

The new entrepreneur center has more space for education, collaboration, and acceleration within the walls of the 22,000 square foot building. It’s been outfitted with the technology needed to help achieve all of those goals.

The former Entrepreneur Center was always a temporary location after opening in May 2010. The center, led by  Burcham, immediately began a search for a permanent home and found it in Nashville’s creatively rich SoBro neighborhood in Trolley Barn #1 at Rolling Mill.

In addition to the new facility, the epicenter of Nashville’s startup ecosystem got a new name, sort of. They are now “The Nashville Entrepreneur Center”, thanks to a pending lawsuit from Entrepreneur Magazine which has a reputation for bullying entrepreneurial organizations that use their trademarked word in their name.

The new location is in the same park as one of Nashville’s most successful startups, Emma.

“It scales us in every direction,Burcham told the Nashville Business Journal. “It brings legitimacy to Nashville as the best place to start a business.”

The old trolley barns also serve as home to several other young companies. There are plans to build out a restaurant and possibly a bowling alley on the property that overlooks both the football stadium and the river.  Since it’s inception, the Nashville Entrepreneur Center has served as a hub for the thriving community which allows entrepreneurs to collaborate and learn from each other.

“Being with other people who are ahead of you in that process and in some ways behind you in that process, it’s sort of the crucible through which much, much better businesses go through,” Case said. “If you are not in place with a strong community … and Nashville is one of the fastest-emerging strong startup communities in the country, you tend to not have the quality of companies come out of it.”

You can find out more about the Nashville Entrepreneur Center here.







Image: Facebook.com




StartCo & FedEx Institute Of Technology Bringing NewMe To Memphis, Discount Codes Available

NewMe Accelerator, Memphis, Startco,FedEx Institute Of TechnologyThe NewMe accelerator program is a critically acclaimed accelerator in San Francisco that specifically targets women and minority startups and founders. They launched their Silicon Valley program in June of 2011, and recently announced an abbreviated “pop up” accelerator tour, coming to cities across the country.

The NewMe pop accelerator will make it’s way to Memphis June 28-30 and be housed at the FedEx Institue of Technology, on the campus of the University of Memphis.

The three-night event June 28-30 features one-on-one coaching from NewME experts, a two-part workshop titled “The Art of the Pitch” that will provide the secrets to a perfect pitch and standing out among other founders. The weekend culminates with “Demo Day,” a night where startups will network with key players in Memphis’ tech scene, special guests from Silicon Valley, and ultimately pitch their idea to a panel of judges that consists of local and Silicon Valley investors.

They’ve already held the pop up program in Miami and Washington DC. In fact, Zoobean, the Washington DC pop up winner, has closed a $500,000 seed round led by Mitch Kapor.

In addition to Memphis Tennessee, the NewMe Popup accelerator will also be held in Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, Durham, Austin, New York, Kansas City, Los Angeles and Oakland.

Participants in the NewMe popup accelerator in Memphis, or on any other city stop will get one-on-one coaching from Silicon Valley business leaders, hands on workshops, and the opportunity to pitch their idea to local and Valley-based investors with the chance to win $45,000 worth of prizes from our sponsors and the opportunity to participate in the NewME Accelerator in San Francisco.

“We’re excited about NewME’s mission and the important work they are doing to accelerate entrepreneurs across the country. Our mission with Google for Entrepreneurs is to grow entrepreneurial communities and equip them with the resources and technology they need to tackle big ideas and build amazing companies,” said Mary Grove, Director of Global Entrepreneurship Outreach at Google one of the key sponsors for the NewMe Accelerator. “We’re truly excited to be teaming up with NewME to bring this series to Memphis and can’t wait to see the big ideas that come from the teams here.”

Start Co. is eager to welcome NewME to Memphis. “We’re excited that Memphis was  selected for this exclusive opportunity,” said co-president and CEO Eric Mathews. “It’s a privilege to participate as their local community partner.”

Find out more and register here for the NewMe popup accelerator in Memphis.

Use discount code MEMPHISEDU for huge discount

Are you working on your pitch deck? Check out this Pop!


Florida Startup World Housing Solution, Quick, Strong And Green!

World Housing Solution, Orlando Startup, Florida startup,startup interview, startup video, SouthlandI gotta tell you, one of the most interesting startups I’ve seen at a startup conference is World Housing Solution. This Orlando based startup has created a way of making extremely strong, quick to build shelters out of Structural Insulated Composite Panels.  The company’s founder, Ron Ben-Zeev tells us that SICPs, are like a super strong sandwich made out of fiberglass bread and a foam center.  Ben-Zeev and his team have found a way to quickly and effectively use this material for shelter.

The SICPs make World Housing Solution shelters great for emergency needs like the aftermath of a natural disaster. They are also great for deploying in emerging countries. For instance, the scale model of the structure they showed off at Southland is actually being deployed to the horn of Africa as a hospital for women. That project calls for five of WHS’s structures to function as a maternity ward, delivery room, clinic, kitchen and rest rooms. In this case the structures deployed will be permanent but it will take days rater than weeks, months or years to get the hospital off the ground.

In addition to being extremely quick to set up the WHS shelters are hurricane resistant (up to 155mph), earthquake resistant (up to 7.8 richter), they don’t mold, mildew or rot, they’re fire resistant and bullet proof. Ultimately this makes the WHS shelters ideal for fast implementation in civilian, government and military installations.

Although he has no formal “construction” experience, Ben-Zeev is actually a Wharton educated executive with a background involving strategic consulting for Fortune 100 and 500 companies. He also served as Strategic Counsel to the North American CEO and President of Siemens Information Systems.

Check out our interview with Ben-Zeev in the video below. For more information visit worldhousingsolution.com

Here’s more of our coverage from Southland in Nashville Tennessee.



We Found The Future Of Loyalty & Rewards At Southland

Facedeals, Nashville startup,startup,Southland

Loyalty and rewards, loyalty and rewards, loyalty and rewards. It’s like a broken record. Everyone thinks they’ve stumbled onto the next big thing with loyalty and rewards. But maybe Nashville-based startup Facedeals actually has.

Facedeals uses a 100% opt-in facial recognition platform that is non-obtrusive to facilitate in person loyalty and rewards in a very passive way.

Users simply sign up for a Facedeals account using Facebook, and the magic starts. When that person walks into an establishment using Facedeals, their face will be captured using an eye-level, inconspicuous camera. In fact, the facial recognition software in the camera can capture the person’s image at their normal pace. They don’t have to do anything but simply walk past it.

The backend software in Facedeals already knows what that user likes and doesn’t like and their habits when patronizing a Facedeals establishment. Facedeals also specializes in relevance as co-founder David McMullen told 60 Minutes’ Leslie Stahl in this interview that aired last month.

In that 60 Minutes piece, McMullen and Stahl walked into a participating merchant, and as they were getting ready to decide what to order, Stahl was delivered a deal to purchase a Ceasar Salad and get a free Diet Coke. Both items, were things that Stahl actually likes. McMullen was offered a different deal on a local beer that he likes.

The secret to this relevance is that when users opt-in to Facedeals and let the service see their Facebook page, it builds a profile based on things they’ve liked..

McMullen told us (and 60 minutes) that the beauty behind Facedeals is that the deals are coming when you’re ready to make a purchase and not in an email first thing in the morning.

The company is working with a variety of different merchants including retail, restaurants, and bars. The robust back-end makes it the easiest way to do loyalty and rewards for any business. In fact they don’t have to do much of anything except let the customer redeem the deal.

Check out our own interview with McMullen from the Southland conference in Nashville.

You can find out more about Facedeals here at getfacedeals.com

Here’s more of our Southland coverage.


After Everywhereelse.co Win, AspirEDU Keeps Proving They’re Not A One Hit Wonder

AspirEDU,Florida Startup,everywhereelse.co,Startup Weekend, Southland

Last year when Kim Munzo went to the Startup Weekend EDU event in Florida, she didn’t know what to expect. The career long educator had a problem and the solution, and with fingers crossed she hoped for the best. She had no idea what a ride it would be.

Munzo has worked in online education for the past 15 years. For those keeping score, that’s just about when online education became accepted as a legitimate source of education. In her position she found that there were a lot of people who dropped out. They get too busy, they get bored, and sometimes they just didn’t feel like continuing.

Munzo was at Everywhereelse.co The Startup Conference, we weren’t able to see much of her business. Fortunately, at Southland we found out the big picture behind this Florida startup.

Munzo developed an analytical system that can predict which online students are at risk of dropping out. An online student can elect to take one class, or a whole degree program online. Some students choose to get multiple degrees. At that rate, the tuition adds up and the revenue for online institutions is in play. A drop out, depending on the cost of their tuition and programs offered, can cost an institution up to tens of thousands of dollars.

AspirEDU lets online institutions know which students are at risk. Then the institution can follow up in a variety of ways. AspirEDU co-founder Kevin Kopas also told us that they are developing features that will automatically send online students at risk emails or text messages to get them re-engaged with their online education. The end result is less attrition for online institutions and students who finish their degrees and certifications.

Following a win at that Startup Weekend EDU event, AspirEDU started taking their show on the road, exhibiting at conferences, pitching in pitch contests, and submitting business plans for business plan competitions. All of those avenues proved to be great for the company.

AspirEDU won $25,000 in cash in the Best of Village pitch contest at Everywhereelse.co The Startup Conference I. After that they won the Florida Atlantic University business plan competition which included $55,000 in cash and services prizes. All of which came in handy for the bootstrapped startup. They also came in 7th place in a global business plan competition.

Although the entire team is still employed elsewhere full time, they are working 40-70 hours more per week on AspirEDU.

“I’m taking off from my day job to be here at Southland,” Kopas told us. Kopas works for a major domain name provider during the day, and dedicates all of his free time to AspirEDU, time he used to use to enjoy the waters of Florida.

AspirEDU is a certified partner with Canvas by Instructure and the team will be traveling to Utah next week to present in a conference with 9 other certified partners.

While the education space is filling up rapidly, there’s no other startup that is using analytics to help keep students enrolled. While it’s a great idea and great technology, the team is leery of taking an investment right now. They already have clients and some major deals with big institutions across the globe in the works. Munzo and Kopas are hoping that they can start creating substantial revenue and not have to give up any equity, at least in the short term.

An investor told us that anyone can make a $4 million dollar business; we want to hold off on an investment in case we need it to get to the $100 million dollar mark. That’s a good possibility with the online education industry counting for billions of dollars on a global scale.

Munzo and Kopas credit Startup Weekend and the people they’ve met while traveling all over the country to promote AspirEDU with where they’ve gotten thus far.

You can find out more about AspirEDU here at aspiredu.com and by watching the interview video below.

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Memphian Sarah Lacy Gives Away Big Omaha’s Secret At Tennessee’s Southland Conference

sarahgaryA refreshing side of Sarah Lacy returned to her native Tennessee on Wednesday morning to kick off the first Southland Conference. If you’ve seen Lacy on her best you know she can be a hard edged interviewer that commands respect in the room, after all with her storied career and climbing through Business Week, TechCrunch, authoring books and two children, she’s earned it.  But Wednesday morning her southern Tennessee charm returned when she welcomed her interviewee Gary Swart, CEO of Odesk for a fireside chat.

Before the interview though, Lacy wanted to hand a secret over to the organizers and attendees of the first ever Southland conference. Lacy talked abut Big Omaha, the centerpiece of Silicon Prairie News’ “Big Series” and a must attend conference for entrepreneurs everywhere. “Do you know how they get big names at Big Omaha” Lacy asked the audience. Then she proceeded to show everyone.

First off she made it clear as southerners and entrepreneurs we were going to “steal” what Big Omaha does. After that she showed off Jeff Slobotski’s (the organizer of Big Omaha and founder of SPN) secret.

It was a huge warm welcome that made each of the speakers, big and small, feel like the biggest person on earth. “Pretend Gary is Oprah and she just gave everyone a car” Lacy told the audience as she asked everyone to practice the big welcome.

Although Southland is in Nashville it’s designed to celebrate entrepreneurship throughout the south east and with that in mind Lacy made plenty of references to her Memphis upbringing during her talk with Swart. Lacy made the trek from Silicon Valley with her 8 week old baby in tow.

Here’s some video

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