How Tennessee Startups Are Killing It

Let’s make one thing clear. I am a Mississippi girl, born and bred. (Back home, we call it Miss’ippi, y’all.)

Still, I’ve lived in Tennessee for almost 10 years now, and I have to say, I’m pretty proud of my adopted home state. We have amazing organizations like Launch TN and accelerators in each major city working on growing the entrepreneurial ecosystem here.

In the last week, startups and startup ecosystems in Tennessee made big strides toward putting our state on the map.

The Nashville company traveled to the Valley earlier this fall to join 500 Startups Batch 007. Late last week, they were named 3rd in the class by Mattermark. The analytics company monitors growth across a variety of web metrics, and their data shows is building some momentum going into Demo Day.

The startup provides easy one-pagers for business and sales. The templates are fully customizable with your brand, and they’re easy enough for anyone to use, even if you aren’t a developer or designer. They’ve had a big year, including the hiring of music industry veteran Heather McBee.



Then, Chattanooga-based Quickcue announced their acquisition by OpenTable for $11.5 million. Quickcue provided restaurants an iPad app to manage wait lists. It was founded at a Chattanooga 48 Hour Launch event in 2011.

The Quickcue team will stay in Chattanooga, and its current customers will continue to be serviced. The acquisition marks the first exit for a Chattanooga tech company, a mileston any ecosystem can be proud of.


Start Co

Finally, Memphis venture development organization Start Co announced its acceptance into the Global Accelerator Network. Start Co offers several resources for Memphis entrepreneurs, such as free coworking space and weekly classes with local mentors.

The organization also runs 3 accelerators: Seed Hatchery, Upstart, and the new logistics program Sparkgap. The application period is now open to all three programs, which will begin in May.

Because startup ecosystems aren’t as dense in some states as in the Valley, it’s all to easy to overlook the real momentum that different regions are seeing. Tennessee has even more going on, but these 3 events especially show traction in the Volunteer State. Congrats to all of the companies, and in the words of Start Co CEO Eric Mathews, “Never stop starting.”

Oh, by the way, you know what else is happening in Tennessee in 2014, right? Stay tuned for announcements on the version 2.0 of the Everywhere Else Conference!

The Gig City Launches National CO.STARTERS Program

Chattanooga CO.STARTERS

Small business is the backbone of our economy.

We’ve all heard it. Over and over (and over) again. But is it true?

Earlier this fall a report from the Kauffmann Foundation suggested that it may not be. Tech companies do actually drive economic growth, so that’s good news for the startup ecosystem. But, we all know what a risky game starting up is, and we can’t always trust that tech companies will continue to grow like they have in recent years.

Still, startup founders and investors have learned a lot about developing businesses. Wouldn’t it be great if we could apply some of those lessons to other segments of the economy? The term “intrapreneur” defines employees of large corporations that push for innovation and change. Is there something similar for small businesses?

There will be soon, if the CO.STARTERS program in Chattanooga, TN has anything to say about it. Last month the program, based out of startup engine The Company Lab, announced a national expansion of their brand of small business development.

“There is a new approach to business in the high-growth startup world,” CO.STARTERS Director Enoch Elwell said in a statement. “Through CO.STARTERS we’ve adapted and applied those highly effective proven methods to micro-business, bringing together a community where these founders can thrive.”

Those of us in the startup world almost consider these techniques cliche now. Things like the lean startup method, customer-focused iteration, pivoting quickly to meet market demand–these things are so common they’re not even really debated any more. But that’s not true for the small business world, where entrepreneurs can labor for years before realizing they’ve missed the market.

With the national launch, CO.STARTERS is offering its curriculum in 3 different formats. The core curriculum covers the basics of business building, regardless of location. The urban and rural (coming soon) take that core curriculum and add in layers that will address the unique situations in each of those areas.

The CO.STARTERS program has already been adopted in cities around the country like Phoenix, Cincinnati, and Fort Wayne, Indiana. To find out more about CO.STARTERS check out their website.

Kauffman Foudation’s Million Cups Now Brewing In Chattanooga

1 Million Cups, Kauffman Foundation, Chattanooga, Startup,startup newsWhile many know Chattanooga, Tennessee for it’s choo choo, the city has actually been on the cutting edge of a lot of things in the startup and technology space. First off, regardless of what anyone says, Chattanooga was the first city in the country to offer 1gb ethernet to residents and businesses city wide. They actually rolled out “the gig” two years ago, a year ahead of Google in Kansas City.

Last year, Chattanooga hosted the first ever startup accelerator focused on “the gig” and appropriately named it the “Gig Tank”. They have a great co-working space called co-lab and a very engaged startup community. In fact they’ve held startup events in Chattanooga attracting some of the biggest Silicon Valley names like Paul Singh.

Now Chattanooga has teamed up with the Kansas City based Kauffman Foundation to bring their 1 Million Cups program to the city. Chattanooga will mark the 7th city nationwide to implement the weekly morning gathering program that is building startups over coffee and conversation.

1 Million Cups began in April 2012 in Kansas City, the hometown of its founding organization, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Foundation leaders intend to expand the 1 Million Cups network to 20 cities by the end of 2013. To support the growth in its partner cities, the Kauffman Foundation also introduces today an enhanced website for the program and microsites for each participating city to share information with local followers.

“We’re thrilled to add Chattanooga to the 1 Million Cups family, because this city is making big strides in entrepreneurship,” said Nate Olson, a Kauffman Foundation associate and co-founder of 1 Million Cups. “Great ideas are found everywhere, and we’re excited to see the startups and community forming in Chattanooga.”

The 1 Million Cups program started in Chattanooga this past Wednesday and featured Chattanooga Whiskey Co., which has had an exciting month. Legislation signed May 16 by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam cleared the way for the company to manufacture its product in the city, and a week later the startup successfully concluded a $10,000 Kickstarter campaign.

Chattanooga’s 1 Million Cups program is being spearheaded by Bill Brock, computational engineer at SimCenter Enterprises and managing director of engage 3D, Andrew Holliday co-founder of Harvest Creative and Allie O’Connell manager of the GigTank accelerator.

“When visiting Kansas City this spring, we were struck by 1 Million Cups’ success in harnessing the energy of the city’s entrepreneurs,” Brock and O’Connell said. “We’re confident the simplicity of this program will resonate with Chattanooga’s growing startup ecosystem and become a weekly ritual for our innovators and entrepreneurs to connect.”

Chattanooga joins Kansas City; Des Moines, Iowa; Houston; St. Louis; Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Iowa; and Reno, Nev. in offering 1 Million Cups locally. Each Wednesday morning in each city, 1 Million Cups gives two early-stage startups the opportunity to present their companies to an audience of mentors, advisers, researchers, builders, makers and other entrepreneurs. Each founder presents for six minutes and then fields audience questions for another 20 minutes.

Interested in attending 1 Million Cups in Chattanooga click here. Want to check it out in another city, click here.

Tennessee is preparing for this huge startup and cultural conference 


Chattanooga, America’s First Gig City, Welcomes 500 Startups For Will This Float At GEW

500 startups, Chattanooga, Will This Float, Paul Singh,CoLab,Global Entrepreneurship WeekOne of the biggest misconceptions in the startup and tech space is that Kansas City and Google were the first to offer 1GB Ethernet to businesses and residents. While we love Kansas City startups it’s actually Chattanooga Tennessee that was first with citywide 1gb Ethernet to homes and residences.

Chattanooga has been doing some very big things for entrepreneurs and startups lately. Back in August we brought you exclusive coverage of the GigTank Demo Day. Chattanooga has also been aggressively recruiting entrepreneurs and startups to the region with economic incentives.

Community leaders Sheldon Grizzle and Enoch Elwell haven’t slowed down either. Among other things, including running the Colab space, Grizzle and Elwell have recently been in Chicago, Nashville and Atlanta evangelizing about one of the most truly beautiful places in the world to launch a startup.

In fact it was at the VentureAtlanta event where Grizzle caught the eye of 500 Startups Co-Founder & Sith Apprentice Paul Singh.

500 Startups is the extremely active and diverse vc firm and accelerator in Mountain View. Although the secret 500 startup lair is physically located in Silicon Valley it’s anything but a valley accelerator. Here on nibletz alone we’ve profiled over a dozen 500 startups, none of them have been from the valley.

This week, as the world gears up for global entrepreneurship week so does Chattanooga. Their signature event pits 15 startups against each other this year, in the “will this float” startup competition. The competition, abbreviated WTF, has grown in both the number of participating startups and prize money/investment. The Times Free Press reports that last year’s winner, SupplyHog, is already making money.

This year the contestants include a new startup aiming to help convert streaming music listeners into active music purchasers. Another innovative idea vying for an investment of up to $250,000.

Another startup competing for the gold is looking to turn Farmville into somewhat of a reality. Entrepreneur Troy Cain plans on building an urban farm that is ultimately controlled by mobile devices.  Farmers would be able to buy warehouse space where they would be able to plant their own urban farms. Plant watering, and other needs would be monitored and executed via mobile phone commands.

“People want to have a garden and grow their own food, but they don’t have the space or time to maintain it,” Cain said to the Times Free Press. “We’re looking at making it less than the average people spend on food per month,”…”We think it’ll float.”

Entrepreneurs, other startups and the community can come and see the 15 teams pitch live on Thursday at 6pm on the fourth floor of the public library at 1001 Broad Street. They’ll be showing off a new space that’s dedicated to tech work and will even feature things like lights that dance on the walls in response to tweets.


Get your ticket for “Will This Float” here

Source: Times Free Press

No one covers high growth tech in the South East like

We’ll see you in February

Following In Chattanooga’s Footsteps, Kansas City Wants To Be A Destination For Startups

Kansas City startups,Launch KC,Chattanooga,startup,startups,startup ecosystemLast year, Chattanooga Tennessee became the first city in the country to have a 1gb fiber network that was available to all businesses and residents within a 600 square mile area. The gb fiber is the backbone to the city’s new grid so the connections automatically go to every residence and business within the footprint. It’s up to the business owner or resident whether they want to also tap that line for data, tv and phone.

Earlier this summer, Kansas City, was the first city to receive commercial 1gb fiber available to it’s residents through Google. Google offers a great introductory offer including low cost high speed internet access, 1 tb of cloud based services and even a tablet.

When Chattanooga lit up their “gig” they started calling the city “The Gig City” and immediately ramped up their efforts to promote entrepreneurism and startups across the city. They did this by increasing promotion of co.lab a coworking space, incubator and accelerator in downtown Chattanooga and by launching the first three month accelerator based on high bandwidth, rightfully called the GigTank.

Now, with their one gigabit internet in tow Kansas City is hoping to spur innovation as well.

Last week Kansas City Mayor Sly James announced the new Launch KC initiative aimed at growing small businesses and startups in Kansas City rather than just focusing on luring big business. James said “We can build Kansas City into the place, theplace, for startups to call home.”

Kansas City is calling on partnerships with existing private sector businesses to provide startups and entrepreneurs with resources like free office space and mentoring. According to Kansas City Public Media, the city plans to kick in funds to offset equipment costs and build out wifi downtown.

This seems like a good start for Kansas City but from a municipal level we’re hopeful that this is just a start.


More Kansas City stories from


Startups “everywhere else” have you seen this yet?

Chattanooga’s SimCenter Could Use The Gig To Plan For The Zombie Apocalypse And More

While we were in Chattanooga Tennessee for the GigTank Demo Day on Thursday, our hosts, the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce took us on a great tour of the city with special attention to services, companies, and educational centers that utilized Chattanooga’s 1gb fiber optic network. Chattanooga was the first city to have 1gb ethernet fiber, a year before Kansas City and Google.

One of the stops on the tour was the University Of Tennessee’s Sim Center: National Center For Computational Engineering.

The SimCenter was established at Mississippi State. With the help of the Jack Lupton Foundation a SimCenter was established in Chattanooga in 2002. The SimCenter houses 6 super computers with the largest having 1300 cores and 325 node diskless cluster by Dell. There are 4gb of RAM per node and of course it’s hooked up to the 1gb ethernet.

Since it’s inception the SimCenter has worked for clients in the public, private and government sectors which require unheard of large amounts of data. When a company like Boeing needs to simulate new turbine engines for a new airplane project the SimCenter is able to simulate the airplane in various conditions to accurately calculate the data engineers need to know while designing new engines.

A recently completed SimCenter project for US Express truck lines resulted in $68 million dollars in fuel savings. The SimCenter did simulated data trials and research on drag and turbulence. They found that by adding “skirts” in three places on semi trucks and their trailers, US Express could save on millions of dollars on gas.

You want me to get to the Zombies part right?

A research project for the SimCenter that was commissioned by the Department of Defense after 9/11 was recently declassified. The Department of Defense used the SimCenter to simulate catastrophic events. More importantly though, the SimCenter research was vital in finding ways to quickly contain a public catastrophe, limiting casualties and losses and protecting first responders as best they could.

Through their super computers, and units called GENI’s, as well as sensors, and communications equipment all linked together on a super fast network, the SimCenter was able to simulate a hazardous materials spill and explosion. In a situation that would typically take hours to contain and more hours to clean up, using the SimCenters’ simulation they were able to:

– Give first responders on going data pertaining to atmospheric conditions, environmental threats, and the trajectory of where the “cloud” of hazardous materials would go.

– They were able to get first responders to the scene quicker by pinpointing the accident

– They were able to alert the citizens through a smartphone app, essentially evacuating the at risk area before any major harm could be done.

Through this study municipalities and local governments will be able to construct a similar system of super computers, sensors, communications and network to be able to respond to their own disasters just as quickly. As gigabit ethernet emerges we will see more and more public safety resources relying on that super fast internet to get vital life saving information to and from command centers, to first responders, to the public and to the media.

The SimCenter opened in Chattanooga long before 1gb ethernet was available.  The computer power alone coupled with the brain power of the engineering researchers in the SimCenter have provided research covering everything from lithium battery modeling, aerodynamic analysis, heavy truck modeling (see above), modeling of coastal and urban flooding and much more.

Our host for the presentation about SimCenter, SimCenter Enterprises President and CEO Tim Walsh, did tell us that the gigabit fiber provides even newer ways to utilize the center. Walsh was a mentor for some of the GigTank teams who were looking to send huge amounts of data over the internet.

Gigabit ethernet tackles huge problems for big data projects like the ones at the SimCenter. During the GigTank presentation for Banyan, the entrepreneur team that won, revealed that it would be quicker for an engineer at Stanford to drive to the airport and fly to London with a terabyte hard drive than it would be to send it over a 100/mbps connection. Using Chattanooga’s gig the Banyan team was able to send a Terrabyte of data to Standord in 2.5 hours. That coupled with the computing power of the SimCenter will mean even bigger things will be done at this amazing institution.


Visit the SimCenter website here

More Chattanoga coverage on here

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Chattanooga GigTank Mentors Log Over 600 Hours

One of the biggest things that’s struck me about the Gig Tank and Gig Tank’s demo day is how the entire city has come out to show their support. Last night we talked about how various businesses throughout downtown Chattanooga participated in the event by holding events.

We went to a reception at co.lab as well as CraftWorks headquarters. There were other events earlier in the day that we unfortunately missed.

This morning there was a bike ride organized, a tour of the Hunter Museum and a tour of the world famous aquarium here in Chattanooga. Chattanooga as a whole seems invested in the success of the entrepreneurs and students who’ve been hard at work the past three months in anticipation of the big day today.

Chattanooga is also invested in the gig itself. It’s exciting that 1 gb fiber is available everywhere in a 600 square mile radius. This morning we had the opportunity to have breakfast with Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger who admittedly isn’t a big “tech” guy but certainly understands the opportunities that come with the smart grid and the 1gb fiber.

The entire “gig” is part of his county. There are 340,000 folks in Hamilton County and of course the biggest part of that is the approx 170,000 people living in Chattanooga.

Coppinger is excited about where the “gig” goes for infrastructure, beyond running communications for power and water for residents and businesses. Coppinger is excited about what the gig will do for education in his county. Currently he has high schools with 500 students and on the other end of the spectrum, schools with 1500. Using remote teaching, relying on the back bone of the gig would mean that students county wide would have a consistent quality of education.

Mayor Coppinger, who served as Fire Chief before being elected Mayor, is also excited about what “The Gig” can do for public safety and first responders.

On the entrepreneurship side Mayor Coppinger is ecstatic about what’s happening with the Gig Tank along with the 60 companies being grown at a small business incubator on the north shore. That incubator has held 60 companies at a time and generally employs 300 per session.

Chattanooga’s support came out this morning when Four Bridges Capital and co.lab’s Charlie Brock pointed out this morning that the mentors for the GigTank entrepreneur’s track offered up a cumulative total of over 600 hours of mentorship during the three month session.

Mentor’s really got engaged with the entrepreneurs and the students as well and have provided more guidance than one would expect, which all lends itself to the buzz going on in Chattanooga surrounded by “the gig”


Nibletz is the voice of startups “everywhere else” here are more startup stories from Tennessee.

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Rawporter Roadshow: We Stop In Chattanooga, TN To Talk Gig City And Gig Tank

Chattanooga TN is quickly becoming know for a lot more than just their “Choo Choo”, there is a tech scene forming in their close-knit community that plans to disrupt the rest of the U.S.  One of the backbones to their tech scene is “the gig”. That’s how the Chattanoogians refer to their 1gb fiber optic internet that already covers 150,000 homes and businesses and 600 square miles.  It’s big and it’s fast.

The “Gig” gives Chattanooga a one up over many other areas. In fact San Francisco doesn’t even have 1gb internet yet.

That’s why they’ve formed “The Gig City” and this summer they are hosting the “Gig Tank”. The Gig Tank is part summer camp, part startup contest and it’s open to entrepreneurs and students. There are two tracks and cash prizes for both.

Last month we wrote about the Gig Tank here on Nibletz.  Check out the video, we talk with Brian who sits on the Gig Tank committee and is planning on a great event.  Nibletz will be on hand for the kick-off of the Gig Tank and then we’ll check in with participants halfway through and the wrap up demo day event at the end of the session.

Like what we do? The Nibletz team is a true new media startup “sneaker strapping” it like the rest of us. If you like what we do, we could really use some gas money to continue with our road trip around the country bringing you coverage of startups “Everywhere Else” hit the donate button on the right of the page.