Launch Your City Takes A Dose Of Their Own Medicine, Unveils Startco

startcologoEric Mathews, Founder and co-President of Memphis-based Launch Your City, is no stranger to entrepreneurship. His family owns a very successful steel door business based in Little Rock, Arkansas. But rather than falling into the security of the family-run business, Mathews,a chemistry student at the time, wanted to be his own entrepreneur. Better than that, he saw, through entrepreneurship, ways to give back to the community, becoming a “social entrepreneur” of sorts before it was the cool hipster thing to do.

In his early 20’s, Mathews became the assistant director at the Fedex Institute of Technology, an academic and tech initiative at the University of Memphis.That wasn’t enough, though. Mathews wanted to help launch companies and startups in Memphis without a tie in to the University. He wanted anyone with a good idea to be able to benefit from an entrepreneurship program. So in 2006 he took the plunge and started the organization that became Launch Your City.

“Iteration trumps perfection,” an “Eric-ism” oft-repeated in Memphis’ startup circles, is a motto that Mathews practices as well as preaches. Launch Your City has seen a slew of iteration over the past 7 years and continues to evolve today.

While choosing a name that would easily transition to startup communities and ecosystems in any city, Mathews honed it in to Memphis by officially launching LaunchMemphis, a division of LaunchYour City, in 2008.

Over the next few years, Andre Fowlkes grew tired of the investment banking and private equity landscape on both coasts and started looking for opportunities to return home. In late 2010 the native Memphian and son of Federal Court Judge John Fowlkes gave up the private equity and investment career and the salary that went with it. After meeting Mathews he realized that Launch Your City is where he wanted to be.

andre1Those who know them know that Mathews is very analytical, quiet, and a little introverted. Fowlkes on the other hand is very outgoing, a relationship builder and connector. With his outgoing personality and business acumen, Fowlkes was the perfect complement for Mathews. In 2011 they became co-presidents of the organization that now oversees Launch Memphis, Seed Hatchery, Upstart, Memphis Venture Mentors, and Wolf River Angels.

With their plates filling up fast and so many different names to keep track of, Fowlkes and Mathews went to work with local agency and huge startup supporter archer>malmo* on re-branding. What began as a project to subtly adjust their branding and message came together as a whole new brand that’s more reflective of the future for the organization.

Today, as Fowlkes kicked off the Seed Hatchery 2013 Investor Day, they revealed the new branding for the organization as Start Co.

The new name and branding fit the overall goals much better, putting everything together in one easy to remember and understand brand. The three lines of effort for the organization remain in tact.

–Educating talented founders
–Accelerating their businesses
–Building the ecosystem of support resources around the entrepreneurs
With the new Start Co branding, their vertical efforts that support accelerators, mentors, raising capital, and supporting the startup community will be better served.
During the transition you can find out more at

*disclosure, archer>malmo holds an equity interest in Nibletz through their a>m ventures arm.


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

Memphis Startup Accelerator ZeroTo510 Sets Record With Over 80% Follow On Funding In Less Than 30 Days

That headline is a true testament to the power of the cohort based ZeroTo510 startup accelerator in Memphis Tennessee. Five of the six startups in their recently graduated class received $100,000 or more in follow on funding from MB Ventures and Innova Memphis.

Four of the startups received follow on funding to continue acceleration of their businesses. Those four companies were:

  • BioNanovations has developed a device that uses bionanotechnology for rapid diagnosis of bacterial infection.
  • EcoSurg has developed an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional foam patient positioners used in surgeries.
  • Nanophthalmics has developed, through the use of nanotechnology, a surgical device to more effectively treat corneal abrasions.
  • Urova Medical has developed a minimally invasive treatment to address feminine stress urinary incontinence.

“In each case, we believe these four companies have shown the progress, the growth and proof-of-concept that were expected to move to the next phase of funding,” said Allan Daisley, director of innovation and sustainability initiatives for Memphis Bioworks Foundation and program director for ZeroTo510.  “It is extremely rewarding to us as an organization, because the funding of four companies exceeds what we considered to be a measure of success when this program was launched.”

The fifth startup to receive follow on funding was Restore Medical. Restore Medical wowed the audience when Co-Founder Shawn Fynn announced during their presentation that they had already secured a purchase order valued at $3.75 million dollars pending 510k approval.  In the case of Restore Medical, they decided to skip the acceleration investment and went directly to a Series A round. MB Ventures and Innova Memphis are leading that Series A round with an undisclosed investment, assumed to be more than the $100,000 Restore Medical would have received with the acceleration funds.

Handminder, a startup that has developed a rehabilitation device for people who have suffered a stroke, to regain use of their hands, did not receive follow on funding.

With an 80% success rate, by the standard of “follow on funding” Zeroto510 is the most successful accelerator in Tennessee.

Zeroto510 is a joint venture between Memphis Bioworks with cohort based accelerator programming provided by SeedHatchery a product of LaunchYourCity.

LaunchYourCity CEO & President Eric Matthews said: “The results speak for themselves.  35 companies have entered our incubators because of our efforts.  EmergeMemphis has a waiting list for the first time.  We have invested time and money in 12 promising startup technologies at our research institutions, two of which have started up as new companies.  Over 20 companies have received pre-seed capital of $50,000 or less.  Of those 8 have received follow-on capital of $100,000 or greater.”.

In addition to Zeroto510 and SeedHatchery LaunchYourCity has a sister program for independent filmmakers called “FuelFilm”. Also the local music incubator, The Memphis Music Foundation, has replicated some of the LaunchYourCity programming into their music resource offerings.


Check out LaunchYourCity at

Zeroto510 site is here

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