Startup Grind Memphis Features Local Entrepreneurial Hero


TaylorpicNext week Startup Grind Memphis will host Taylor Berger for their monthly meetup. It will be held at the newly opened Cowork Memphis space on Tuesday, May 15. This is the 4th edition of Startup Grind Memphis.

If you’ve ever spent time in Memphis, you’ve probably encountered Taylor Berger. You may not have met him personally, but the businesses he’s started span across the city and have been a part of changing the dining landscape.

In 2010 Berger opened Yolo, Memphis’s first self-serve frozen yogurt store. (The Yolo stands for “yogurt local,” not “you only live once.”) Yolo became an instant hit in town, expanding into gelato and baked goods as well as opening stores around the city.

In 2013 he expanded into full restaurants with Chiwawa, a taco and hot dog place with the best patio and margaritas in Memphis. Later that year, Tamp and Tap–a coffee/craft beer bar–opened up downtown.

Along with the restaurants Berger has already been a part of, he is actively developing more new concepts to open in the coming years.

If you’re in the area, Berger’s talk is a must attend. He may “scale” a business the way we in tech think about it, but he’s no stranger to the hard work of entrepreneurship and community revitalization.

And, 3+ restaurants in as many years sounds like “scaling” to me.

Grab your tickets for Startup Grind Memphis here.

America’s Logistics Capital Hosts First Logistics Technology Accelerator, Sparkgap



This summer road, river, rail, and runway will converge with technology in Memphis as Sparkgap makes its first six investments into early stage logistics technology companies.

rsz_incontentad2Co-locating in Memphis with global supply chain giants like FedEx and others will enable founders to tackle the latest challenges with new software and hardware technologies.

Major partners have committed to support Sparkgap including SAP HANA, FedEx, Mosaik Solutions, and Twilio.  Plus our investment friends at Solidus, Crunchfire, Angaros Group, Start Co. Angels, and SAP HANA Real Time Fund are eager to participate and screen the companies for follow-on support at Demo Day.

Sparkgap is operated as an accelerator program which provides founders a 115-day program provides that supplies crucial early-stage funding, intense technical and business assistance, as well as mentoring from some of the top figures in the industry.  It is Global Accelerator Network certified affording the accepted teams access to a wealth of resources to support their launch.

The program is part of the Start Co. platform which brings exclusive resources and services from world-class service providers coupled with regional and national support and engagement of partners and sponsors.  Start Co. mentors are rallying to the Sparkgap platform ranging from Fortune 500 execs to founders and key experts for high-growth startups.

While starting up impactful businesses is our goal, we would be remiss not to take advantage of some experiences that showcase the best of Memphis.  Our Summer of Acceleration in Memphis kicks off in May with The “Burning Man of BBQ,” the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, A.K.A BBQ Fest.  Our programs will culminate at the grandiose and historic Orpheum Theater in a massive demo day and closing party in the heart of downtown Memphis.

We are on the hunt for logistics innovators to join us in Memphis.  In the past, they’ve come from Bermuda, NYC, LA, ATL, Nashville, Carolinas and other fine places.  The gravity, authenticity, and accessibility of Memphis has kept them here — and certainly our rich entrepreneurial culture, both past and present, helps.

If you are a logistics industry innovator, join us in the real-life laboratory of America’s logistics capital. The deadline to apply is March 21.

Learn more about Sparkgap at Learn about Start Co. and our accelerator programs at or email us at

Sponsored By:


Memphis-based Start Co Brings Entrepreneurship to Everyone


There’s a lot of buzz in the startup world about how startups stimulate job growth. A healthy company that employs dozens to hundreds of people works wonders for a local economy and culture. See Zappos and Las Vegas.

With that in mind, a lot of organizations are popping up in different regions with the goal of encouraging entrepreneurship and stimulate economic growth. We’ve written a lot about Start Co, recently about their partnership with the Ohio-based Jumpstart America.

Yesterday, Start Co and Jumpstart America unveiled a plan to increase entrepreneurship in the Memphis area. Called MEMx the plan includes several regional leaders in business and the local community.

Memphis regularly lags behind the rest of the nation in economic indicators, and much of the money injected into the city are “poverty dollars.”

Start Co and their partners are determined to change that.

“MEMx plan partners have an aligned vision to advance entrepreneurship in Memphis through this new approach that encourages an entrepreneurial mindset and appreciation across the community,” Start Co’s co-president Andre Fowlkes said in a statement. “To help Memphis establish the building blocks of a thriving economy, it’s absolutely critical that we’re deliberately inclusive in our efforts.”

MEMx will seek to build on Memphis’ unique strengths and opportunities, find the region’s entrepreneurial potential, and continue to learn how to best grow the Memphis economy. The next steps include fundraising and expansion of some current initiatives already in place, like the local accelerators, which are currently accepting applications.

In the startup tech world, we often get very focused on individual companies and their products. Start Co is unique in that they are thinking about how to best help their city first and are leveraging local tech entrepreneurs to do it.

At Nibletz, we are very familiar with the city of Memphis and the Memphis startup scene. It’s a great city, with so many exciting growth opportunities. In recent years the food scene and the live music scene have both exploded, bringing health and vitality to areas that many people had given up on. The success of MEMx could help Memphis grow its economy as quickly as its culture has grown in the last few years.

By the way, there’s another great startup event happening in Memphis this spring:

The “Must-Attend Conference for Entrepreneurs” Everywhere Else Tennessee is headed back to Memphis this Spring. We’re releasing the first 50 tickets for 50% off exclusively to our newsletter subscribers on Jan 13th. Don’t miss your shot by signing up here!

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!

Upstart Graduates 5 New Female-Led Companies

upstartMEMIt seems that everywhere I go, people are talking about women in tech and women in startups. Everyone has an opinion on why it’s hard for women in tech (or IF it’s hard).  Some think the solution comes from changing institutions to accommodate families. Others think women just need to embrace careers and quit being timid.

There are plenty of opinions, but we in the startup world know that execution matters more than theory. Yesterday in Memphis, execution was on display.

The people behind Start Co in Memphis, TN are actually doing something to advance women in tech, and the fruit of that labor was seen in the 5 teams that presented at Upstart’s Demo Day. I talked about Upstart in July, and like most Demo Days, it’s amazing to see how far the companies have come in a few short months.  Of course, it’s still early days for all the companies, and everyone knows the real work begins after Demo Day.– was a late addition to Upstart cohort, but when leaders saw how serious founder Tameesah Desangles was about her business, they felt she’d earned a place at Demo Day. Desangles’ company is a visual shopping platform for brides and their bridesmaids. There are thousands of things to buy for a wedding, and with 25 retailers on board, there are plenty of options.

Artwardly–Leni Stoeva changed her business model quite a bit during the accelerator, but the final product is an art-leasing platform that connects high-end art and individuals and businesses. No more Fortune 500 companies with Aunt Ida’s black and whites in the lobby. With her connections in the art world, and some great developers building the platform, Stoeva is on pace to change the way collectors, businesses, and even museums source their art.

GemPhones–We’ve written about GemPhones before, and founder Kelli Meade is still going strong. GemPhones is electronic jewelry, combining the function of earphones with the style of necklaces. Lots of people flaunted their GemPhones at the after parties, and it’s really impressive how many styles are already available.

Stylecrook–A native of Bermuda, founder Zakkiyah Daniels came all the way from Thailand to participate in the Upstars accelerator. Stylecrook is a social shopping site that allows you to receive discounts when you enlist your friends to help you pick out clothes. Let’s face it, that’s how most women shop best anyway. Stylecrook is now making it digital.

Kids360Now–Audrey Jones started her presentation with a sobering story about children harmed at a day care and taken to a hospital, but because their parents contact information was inaccessible, the parents didn’t find out until pick up time. Kids360Now solves that problem by putting the information into the parents’ hands, and allowing them to grant access when needed. A daycare administrator can simply open an app on her phone in the even of emergency, rather than trying to reach a file cabinet.

The women of the first Upstart cohort made big strides in the 3 months of accelerator life. We at Nibletz are cheering them on as they continue to grow and develop their companies.



JumpStart Inc Announces Its Next Partnership, Heads to the Mid-South

Jumpstart Inc, Memphis startups, startco, partnershipsEECincyBannerJumpStart Inc. has an impressive record. Founded in 2004, they have grown an ecosystem in northeastern Ohio basically from scratch. The numbers look something like this:

  • $29 million in funding to pre-seed stage companies
  • 1000s of hours of human capital to more than 400 companies
  • 3,000 new jobs

In 2010 JumpStart received funding from outside sources to take the lessons learned in Ohio to other parts of the country. Since then they have partnered with 15 other regions to grow local startup ecosystems and create jobs. JumpStart’s approach involves working with local leaders to identify a region’s strengths and build from there.

They have a presence in regions like upstate New York, Baton Rouge, Detroit, and central Georgia.

And, now they’re coming to Memphis.

“After two years of discussions, we’re excited to kick off this collaboration with JumpStart,” co-president of Start Co Andre Fowlkes said in a press release. “Working with start co logoJumpStart further supports our mission of relentlessly building companies and founders for the advancement of Memphis’ entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

We write a lot about Memphis here at Nibletz. Part of that is because we’re based here, but it’s also because we believe in the possibilities in this city. Currently the city has a 9.5% unemployment rate, the highest of all metro areas of more than 1 million people. That number is pretty bleak, but entrepreneurs like ones that Start Co helps launch are a bright spot in the city.

Memphis also has a history of racial tension, which probably comes as no surprise. Yet the Fowlkes and co-president Eric Mathews know that to really pull Memphis employment up, everyone needs to engage. With their history in Cleveland, the folks at JumpStart have experience in reaching out to diverse groups of people and encouraging entrepreneurialism.

“2/3 to 3/4 of our talent isn’t even in the game,” said Mike Mozenter, President of JumpStart’s regional consulting arm, at a press luncheon yesterday. “How can that be good for any of us?”

So, how do JumpStart and Start Co plan to grow jobs in Memphis?

Like any good startup, they are still in the customer discovery phase of the project. Over the next few months, they will be talking to local leaders, universities, and entrepreneurs to begin to figure out what Memphis needs. At the end of the discovery phase, they hope to have a 5-year plan that will accelerate Memphis’ growth as a leading startup ecosystem.

The Accelerate Memphis Project hopes to secure at least $50 million in investment capital and another $15 million for technical assistance, support, and pre-seed investment money in the next 5 years.

Memphis and JumpStart are a natural partnership, and both expect great things for Memphis in the coming years.

Mozenter said in a statement: “We chose to work with Start Co because of their track record in supporting high growth technology startups in the Memphis market. Our organizations have complementary missions, and I have been impressed with the resources and support that Start Co offers startups.”

Check out the JumpStart Inc and Start Co websites to learn more about those organizations.


NewME PopUp Finds Some Great Entrepreneurs In Memphis

NewMe Accelerator, Accelerator, Startups, Memphis

In February the NewME Accelerator announced a nationwide tour, a series of PopUp Accelerators. The program–which will visit 13 cities by the end of 2013–is sponsored by Google for Entrepreneurs.

Last weekend the PopUp Accelerator camped out in Memphis, TN. They ate a little BBQ, saw a little Beale Street, and met a lot of entrepreneurs.

And Memphis showed its best at the Sunday Demo Day. Whether they are testing for bacterial infections or selling wedding supplies, the founders were passionate and excited. Many of them already had traction and customers.

“There were so many great founders in Memphis that is was such a hard decision picking the winner . . . Additionally, the amount of talented entrepreneurs was exciting to witness, from non-profits to social enterprises to for-profit ventures we were impressed with the talent there and are looking forward to staying in close contact with them,” Angela Benton, CEO of NewME, said in an email.

So, who were those winners, and what did they win?

3rd place, with $22,000 in products and services, went to Brit Fitzpatrick of MentorMe.

2nd place, and $36,000 in products and services, went to Richard Billings of Screwpulp.

And 1st place went to Charleson S. Bell of BioNanovations. 1st prize was $46,000 in products and services and a spot in the August cohort of the full NewME Accelerator in California.

Marston-1NewME focuses on accelerating businesses founded by minorities and women. Acceptance to the program doesn’t include seed funding, but participants have access to the vast network Benton and her team have cultivated. Besides Google, that network includes Ben Horowitz and several top-ranking Twitter employees. Utilizing this network, almost all of the companies in the last 4 cohorts have raised significant funding.

The PopUp Accelerator in Memphis was sponsored by Start Co and the FedEx Institute of Technology. Start Co also runs the local accelerator the Seed Hatchery, which most recently accelerated both MentorMe and Screwpulp.

“We were happy to partner with NewMe to bring their POPUP Accelerator in Memphis, TN. I was really impressed with all the entrepreneurs that pitched and we hope to work with them going forward at Start Co,” said Eric Mathews, founder and co-president of Start Co.

There’s always something unique about hosting people from out of town. When we look at our world through the eyes of a visitor, we begin to see things differently.

That’s exactly what happened with NewME in Memphis. Seeing the excitement of the NewME team re-energized Memphis founders and pulled the ecosystem a little closer together. New founders mingled with veterans, and everyone walked away with new ideas and new energy.

I also discovered some awesome startups. Look for coverage of those exciting companies in the coming weeks.

 This huge conference for startups “everywhere else” is also in Memphis.


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!


The Grizz N Grind Of The Grizzlies Spawn Startup Hoop City Memphis

Hoop City Memphis, Memphis, Memphis starutps,starutp,gritTwo Memphians who are fairly well known in the local Memphis community found common ground in a passion that the mostly blue collar city shares, the love of basketball. I must admit when Nibletz made the move to Memphis I had no idea how much Memphian’s loved the University of Memphis Tigers. Being from Baltimore and having lived in Auburn, the only Tigers I knew were of the blue and orange variety.

The Grizzlies on the other hand I knew. Baltimore’s native son, Rudy Gay, played for the Grizzlies his entire professional career until earlier this year when the Grizzlies traded him to the Toronto Raptors. Anyone from Baltimore or who lived in Baltimore in the early part of the 2000s knew that local Baltimore TV sportscasters had three segments, the Orioles, the Ravens and Rudy Gay. They tracked the high school standout right up to the point where he decided to commit to UConn instead of Maryland. With the stellar record of our closest team since the days of Wes Unsled and Manut Bol, (the Washington Wizards), it was no wonder I had turned to Memphis as my NBA team 6 years ago. So when the opportunity came to move to Memphis there was definitely Grizz appeal. I quickly became a season ticket holder.

What I witnessed first hand through the best and worst of games throughout the 2012-2013 season in person, was nothing less than remarkable. The way Memphis and Memphians come together to support their college and NBA basketball teams is nothing short of remarkable. It reminded me of the days that an AHL, not NHL team, the Baltimore SkipJacks, united Charm City.

Memphis is a town that was built on entrepreneurship, it’s just skipped a few decades recently. Household names like Fedex, Holiday Inn and Autozone found their roots in the Bluff City. The cotton trade, and water to rail transportation were staples in Memphis for hundreds of years. As of late though, the city shows signs of trying times, scars as the team from Hoop City Memphis puts it.

“We may live in an era of plastic surgery, but Memphis wears it’s scars for all to see. They are scars from our history, a darkened past many would like to forget. But all of it has made us what we are as Memphian’s. Getting here wasn’t easy, and there’s still a long way to go, but while we can, let’s pause for a moment and think about how unique Memphis is.” Hoop City Memphis writes on their website.

The t-shirt company is the brain child of two friends, a marketer, Leslie Skelton and a designer Ian Lemmonds. Both, who wear their grit n grind proudly.  Skelton grew up in the Memphis area no stranger to a city who’s outskirts are crime ridden (downtown on the other hand is the safest district in Memphis), and no stranger to the businesses that left in droves through the 90’s.

Lemmonds on the other hand grew up in a family of 5 siblings on the brink of poverty. Escape for Lemmonds was found in art, skateboarding and ice hockey.

The two met at Mouse Foundry, an interactive agency in Memphis. Later, both ended up working for two different local papers. Lemmonds is a UX Designer at the local daily and  Skelton is now working for one of the areas largest agencies. On the side though they created Hoop City Memphis. They weren’t’ looking to get rich, and they certainly couldn’t predict that the Memphis Grizzlies would be the favorite for many national sports publications, to win the 2013 NBA championship.  Hoop City Memphis actually had more Tiger inspired t-shirts than Grizzlies.

Hoop City Memphis is a company that’s  more about culture, and uniting a community through the commonality of basketball. “Nothing brings Memphis together like basketball” Skelton told us in a phone interview Monday.

The designs are all creations that Skelton gives most of the credit to Lemmonds for coming up with. While some may be a spin on something familiar they are all original. Memphians wear Hoop City Memphis gear more as a badge of honor, to “rep their city”.

Over the past few weeks, since the Memphis Grizzlies made the pages of the national papers, people have been talking about Memphis’ grit and grind. Many articles we’ve read on the big sites like SBNation, Yahoo Sports, Sports Illustrated and ESPN have talked about this underlying theme in Memphis. On the Hoop City Memphis site, both Lemmonds and Skelton nail that theme on the head. Memphis is a city that’s breaking out of it’s “low self esteem”. That idea can be seen everywhere in the Bluff City. From entrepreneurship on the rise, to the hundreds of thousands that partake in Memphis in May, to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Hoop City Memphis offers shirts that celebrate Memphis. Sure there are shirts that celebrate the Tigers and the Grizzlies but one of their favorites is one that says 38103 which is the zipcode for downtown Memphis. A few of the others deal with “grinding” a theme that Memphis is beginning to embrace, but it didn’t start in Memphis.

Lemmonds explains: “I’m actually a big hockey fan, and a lot of people don’t know, but the notion of a “grinding” team comes from hockey. It’s the idea of just to keep working hard, and eventually an opponent will give in. In the late 90′s the Toronto Maple Leaf’s were constantly called a “grinding” team.  The idea of “grinding” is something Memphis needs to embrace in many areas when we compete against other cities – not just in sports, but in education, economic development, entreprenuership, etc. You may not realize it, but Memphis is competing against other cities in ways that are much bigger than sports…”

That was where Lemmonds came up with “Memphis Where Comes To Grind” for the t-shirts given away at the inaugural The Startup Conference.

One of Memphis’ biggest industries these days is tourism. With that there are several companies that make t-shirts about Memphis. Skelton and Lemmonds are making t-shirts for Memphians that Memphians are proud to wear and can be found on any nationally televised Grizzlies game spread out in the crowd.

Skelton admitted though, that it’s nice that they are getting orders lately from all over the world. “Sure we have our site optimized but people come to and really like our designs.”

Hoop City Memphis has done such a good job they’ve garnered the attention of a copycat who uses the name “hoop city” which is actually a trademark of the NCAA. The copy cat has actually used property of the Grizzlies by marketing t-shirts with their team name and players faces on them. Imitation is of course the best form of flattery.

I learned about the copycat on Friday night at the Memphis BBQ festival when Memphis Grizzlies DJ Justin Baker, told me the shirt I had just been given that said “Whoop That Trick” on it, was actually from the fake Hoop City company.

As the Memphis Grizzlies continue to make franchise history, you can check out Hoop City Memphis’ shirts here and order some for yourself. For the locals the duo will have a pop up shop at South Of Beale on Main Street this Saturday before game three of the Western Conference Finals.

Grizzlies are all in with entrepreneurship and startups.

Want to see what Memphis is all about, come to this:


Memphis Seed Hatchery Investor Day Draws Global Audience

Seed Hatchery, Memphis,startup accelerator,startup,startup news,investorsOn Thursday in a swank movie theater in Memphis’ revitalized midtown district, six startups presented their companies to a theater that was literally, standing room only by the beginning of the pitches.

BetterFed (farm to consumer), MentorMe (e-harmony for mentors), Soundstache (a fan engagement platform for bands), Boosterville (a huge disruption in fundraising), Musistic (Github for musicians) and ScrewPulp (a better way to self publish), took the stage for 12 minute investor pitches after concluding the three month Seed Hatchery accelerator program.

Investors and spectators from Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and as far away as Singapore and Silicon Valley were in attendance to take in the pitches.

Mara Lewis, a San Francisco based entrepreneur and founder of, was in attendance for the Seed Hatchery festivities which included an after party at the world famous Memphis BBQ competition. Lewis, who’s pitched in front of plenty of crowds said that this group at Seed Hatchery was one of the best groups she’s seen. Lewis is currently working with Start Co’s co-President’s Andre Fowlkes and Eric Mathews on their upcoming Upstart women’s startup accelerator.

After playing host to a group of Memphis entrepreneurs (including myself) in Silicon Valley in March, Kuji Chahal of Fisher Investments made the cross country trek to hear the pitches from the Seed Hatchery cohort. Chahal stuck around throughout the festivities to talk with all of the new entrepreneurs.

Andre Mouton, an investor from Singapore has been ecstatic about Memphis’ entrepreneurship. He made a trip to Memphis in February which included visits to Launch Memphis, Bioworks and The Startup Conference. Mouton took meetings with entrepreneurs all weekend long at the BBQ Festival and over at the Peabody Hotel. Mouton told us that he was impressed at how hard everyone was working in Memphis, that my friend is the Grit N Grind.

Vic Gatto, a Managing Partner at Solidus, the investment firm that seeds the Seed Hatchery class along with Jump Start Foundry in Nashville, made it a point to call out investors in the room with a call to action to talk with the entrepreneurs, and see that all six businesses have a good chance of survival.  Gatto’s partner Townes Duncan, along with his son Walker Duncan, co-founder and Editor in Chief at southernalpha also made it down from Nashville. The younger Duncan was returning from an event in Atlanta. Obviously the Grit N Grind of Memphis is expanding state wide.

Both Fowlkes and Mathews were quick to point out that Investor Day isn’t the conclusion of the Seed Hatchery program but rather the beginning. They recently added Rhodes graduate, Hillary Quirk, to the Start Co team as Community Manager. In her new role Quirk is forming an alumni association for Memphis’ accelerators which include the two cohorts at ZeroTo510.

You can find out more at and at their old site

See all the pitch videos from Seed Hatchery’s investor day here at The Voice Of Startups Everywhere Else.


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.


Memphis Answers Call To Task On Women Entrepreneurs With Upstart Accelerator

Upstart Memphis, Memphis, Startups,Accelerator,Launch Your CityOn Tuesday at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013, Alexia Tstotsis got some of the more influential names in the tech/vc community to talk about women entrepreneurs and venture capital. David Tisch offered this tidbit in regards to what really pisses him off when VCs are talking to women. Aaref Hilaly (Sequoia) offered this opinion on why there is such a divide. Hilaly also called everyone to task to help increase the number of women entrepreneurs ready for venture funding.

While startup communities everywhere are starting to embrace and cultivate their women entrepreneurs. One startup community in particular has taken a very proactive role.

Eric Mathews, Andre Fowlkes and Elizabeth Lemmonds the team behind Launch Your City and Launch Memphis started a women’s initiative in 2012 called Upstart. Upstart is a multifaceted initiative with their latest phase coming into fruition now. It began with a meetup group, office hours for women entrepreneurs and a 48 Hour launch event for women founders.

Upstart is just one of the many startup community initiatives that Launch Your City has developed. They are also responsible for Seed Hatchery, a general tech accelerator that is two weeks away from their third graduation (demo day). Interestingly enough there are two startups in the class of six that have women founders; Boosterville and Mentor Me. A third woman entrepreneur, Rachel Hurley, started as a co-founder for one startup, Soundstache and has since segued to another team, Musistic. Hurley has always been active in the Launch Memphis startup community and took the challenge to apply to this years Seed Hatchery class.

In addition to all of this, Lemmonds, served as the moderator for the “Kick Ass Female Founders From Everywhere Else” at the inaugural conference. It was there and on a trip to Silicon Valley that Lemmonds continued to forge relationships with women entrepreneurs across the country, some of which will serve as mentors for the upcoming first session at Upstart.

The Upstart Accelerator basically starts as soon as Seed Hatchery graduates. The application deadline is May 24th and the application can be found here.Those accepted will be notified by May 31st. The session starts in Memphis at the Launch Your City Launch Pad on June 20th and runs until October 3rd.

Upstart participants will get access to the four M’s, mentors, milestones, money and Memphis. The Upstart team is encouraging women led startups from across the country and around the world to consider their program. Memphis is a great place to launch startups, cost of living is incredibly low and the startup community is close knit and growing. And YES their can be men on the team as well, but one of the cofounders must be a woman.

You can find out more here at

See why this woman, and her husband, the founding CTO at Cha-Cha moved to Memphis for an acceleartor.


Memphis Native Kimberly Bryant Named To 25 Most Influential African Americans In Technology List

Kimberly Bryant, Black Girls Code,BlackGirlsCode,startup,entrepreneur,Memphis


Business Insider published a great list this morning of the 25 most influential African American’s in technology.

We were very pleased to find that native Memphian Kimberly Bryant, the founder and creator of Black Girls Code, was ranked number 19 on such an important list.

Kimberly Bryant is an award winning social entrepreneur, technology junkie, an engineer by trade and a native Memphian. She relocated to Silicon Valley and now she’s launched a program that’s rolling out across the country. That program, Black Girls Code, promotes teaching coding and development to young African American Girls.

Bryant describes the mission for Black Girls Code on her website as:

“to introduce programming and technology to a new generation of coders, coders who will become builders of technological innovation and of their own futures.”

Like many others, Bryant believes there’s a “dearth” of African American women in science, technology, engineering and math professions. While some may say it’s because there’s a lack of interest, Bryant knows that it’s more like a lack of access and exposure to STEM topics. The Black Girls Code program is about making STEM topics accessible to African American girls and exposing them at a young age. It’s also done in such a way that it’s fun and positive.

Bryant has held programs through Black Girls Code in cities all over the country and some around the world. Black Girls Code has had events in San Francisco, Chicago, Oakland, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and even in Johannesburg. Her most recent event was this past Saturday in Atlanta where they taught kids how to develop their own apps using Google’s App Inventor.

Black Girls Code in Memphis debuted back in January at an Open House, they also had booth space at The Startup Conference. The weekend following that huge startup event Black Girls Code Memphis held their inaugural event which was met with great success.

Here is the complete list:

1. John Thompson, CEO Virtual Instruments
2. Shellye Archambeau, CEO MetricStream
3. David Drummond, SVP, Chief Legal Officer, Google
4. Ken Coleman, Chairman MIPS Technologies Inc
5. Kirk McDonald, President PubMatic
6. Lisa Lambert, VP and Managing Director of Software & Service, Intel Capital
7. Malik Ducard, Director of Content Partnerships, YouTube
8. Ime Archibong, Manager of Strategic Partnerships, Facebook
9. Ty Ahmad-Taylor, Head of Smart TV, Samsung
10. Erik Moore, Founder and Managing Partner, Base Ventures
11. Tristan Walker, Entrepreneur In Residence, Andreessen Horowitz
12. Kanyi Maqubela, Partner, Collaborative Fund
13. Charles Hudson, Partner at SoftTech VC
14. Michael Siebel, & SocialCam
15. Brian Weston, Analyst, Union Square Ventures
16. Angela Benton, Founder & CEO NewMe Accelerator
17. Tony Guada, CEO and co-founder Bitcasa
18. Jon Gosier, Founder & CEO Metalayer
19. Kimberly Bryant, Founder, BlackGirlsCode
20. Wayne Sutton, Founder & CEO, PitchTo
21. Majora Carter, Founder, Sustainable South Bronx, Startup Box
22. Don Charlton, CEO, Resumator
23. Hamet Watt, Co-Founder MoviePass
24. Stacy Spikes, Co-Founder, MoviePass
25. Will Lucas, Founder & CEO Creadio 

Now see 3 things every new startup should do.

Memphis’ Biggest Entrepreneurial Success Story Turns 40

FedEx,Fred Smith,Entrepreneur,Memphis,Memphis startup

(photo: FedEx Facebook)

In 1970 Frederick Wallace Smith embarked on a journey that would change the way that people do business. Smith purchased controlling interest in an aircraft maintenance company called Ark Aviation Sales. In 1971 he started trading used jets and on June 18, 1971 he founded Federal Express.  He used a $4 million dollar inheritance (about $25 million today) and raised $91 million dollars in venture capital.

Along the way Smith was criticized because many though his idea about merging ground transportation and aviation to deliver packages overnight was well, crazy. Of course many present day entrepreneurs have been in the same boat.

In 1973 (40 years ago), he began offering overnight delivery services in 25 cities using a fleet of 14 Falcon 20 (DA-20) jets. The foundation for the way FedEx operates today began in 1973 in a model similar to bank clearinghouses. Packages would be brought to Memphis Tennessee and then re-routed out to their destination.

Today, FedEx Express serves 220 countries and territories around the world, and their main hub is still in Memphis Tennessee.

At age 69 Smith is still alive and well and is still at the helm of FedEx which is innovating in several other logistical spaces, while dealing with the disruption in even overnight delivery caused by new ways of communicating (the internet).  Sensor products, cloud based services and even taking over the merged FedEx Kinko’s which are now just FedEx Office stores, are helping FedEx continue to deliver on the bottom line.

In his spare time what does Smith do? He serves on boards, like Startup America. Smith is a great friend to entrepreneurs and startup ecosystems at home and across the country.

FedEx is just beginning to celebrate getting “over the hill” and of course they’re doing it with jet power.

Happy Birthday.

Jonesin for more high growth tech news from the South, Click here.