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.


Memphis’ Bad Ass Startup Chick Brittany Fitzpatrick Pitches MentorMe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find out more about Mentor me here at





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why did you apply to Seed Hatchery?

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

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

Did you get what you were expecting?

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

What was your big “A Ha Moment”?

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

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

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

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

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

What are you hoping for after Investor day?

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

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

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

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


The Big Day Is Here For Memphis Startup ScrewPulp

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

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

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

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

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


Check out more of our Seed Hatchery coverage here. 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find out more at

We’ve got more Seed Hatchery coverage here.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sign up for soundstache at

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out their investor day pitch video below:


Find out more about Boosterville here at

We’ve got more Seed Hatchery coverage here. 


Memphis Startup ScrewPulp Launches Disruptive Self Publishing Platform

ScrewPulp,Memphis startup,startup, Seed Hatchery,AcceleratorWith one week to go in the Memphis based Seed Hatchery startup accelerator program, one of their startups, ScrewPulp, has officially launched (isn’t it nice to see real products at demo days).

Long time readers of, The Voice Of Startups Everywhere Else, are very familiar with ScrewPulp and it’s founder, Memphian Richard Billings. Billings comes from a wide background of creativity, and media. At one point in his career, Billings was a radio disc jockey. Throughout though, he’s been a tinkerer on a very grand scale. For instance his home has a full movie theater and he’s building arcade and pinball machines in his spare time.

So what’s ScrewPulp? It’s a way for self publishers to generate traction by trading their wares for social media mentions, reviews and ratings. In it’s simplest form the model works like this:

– Author publishes their book on ScrewPulp
– The first 25 copies are given away free
– Those people are expected to engage with the material through reviews, ratings and social media mentions
– Readers can continue to get the newest books free as long as they support the model.

After the initial free period, publishers start making money on their book. Pricing is based on how well the book was received, or sales. What’s especially nice for publishers is the platform is non-exclusive and publishers get 75% of the take.

“I want to change a broken industry,” Billings said in a statement. “Screwpulp is removing the obstacles that discourage so many authors, and empowers everyone to take control of publishing’s future.”

ScrewPulp is a product of the entire LaunchMemphis ecosystem. The idea was conceived at a 48 Hour Launch event in June of 2012. From there, ScrewPulp was one of the startups selected to compete in a Global Entrepreneurship Week challenge, which included pitching the concept to Federal Court Judge John Fowlkes. At that contest, ScrewPulp won over $5,000 in cash and prizes.

ScrewPulp founder Richard Billings pitches his startup to Federal Court Judge John Fowlkes.

It was only natural for ScrewPulp to continue iterating and preparing for launch under the development and instruction of Seed Hatchery, Memphis’ cohort based technology accelerator.

“It’s been a fun uphill battle all the way, but we have our work cut out for us after investor day next week.” Billings told in an interview. He’s also very excited about the progress they’ve made to date. ScrewPulp soft launched last week with four books and four authors. In just one week, and with no promotion, marketing or media they now have 23 books from 23 authors, and 250 readers signed up for the platform.

To add to that momentum, ScrewPulp’s mentor, Publishing executive Joe Wikert, will be flying into Memphis to introduce the ScrewPulp team at Seed Hatchery Investor Day next week. Wikert was the Publisher and Chair of O’Reilly Media’s Tools Of Change conference. Wikert has also had executive positions with publishing giants, Wiley and Macmillan Publishing.

You obviously like to read, so go read a book at

Here’s ScrewPulp’s first ever pitch at 48 Hour Launch

This Memphis founder also launched her startup at 48Hour Launch and is now a finalist in the Black Enterprise Elevator Pitch Contest.

Indy Couple Getting Their Grit & Grind On At Memphis’ Seed Hatchery Accelerator

Boosterville,Tom Cooper,Pam Cooper,Seed Hatchery,Memphis Startup,Indianapolis startup Memphis’ Seed Hatchery accelerator is less than a month away from demo day for their third cohort of startups. This years class has some major standouts and Boosterville is one of them.

Boosterville was founded as Sodbuster by married couple Pam and Tom Cooper. The Cooper’s hale from Indianapolis Indiana and they are the only “out of town” team for this years Seed Hatchery class. I met Pam Cooper on Brad Feld’s alternative to Hacker News, the Startup Revolution Hub. Meeting woman entrepreneurs is nothing new these days however Pam and Tom admittedly have adult children, sometimes older than the other founders on the Startup Revolution Hub, and the other founders at Seed Hatchery.

I quickly struck up an online friendship with Pam that resulted in her presenting at the startup conference and facilitated an introduction into the Seed Hatchery program.

What makes the Coopers even more interesting is that Tom is the founding CTO of Cha-Cha and has been a distinguished CTO for the last 30 years. While I wouldn’t call them “startup rich” the Cooper’s have done well. Pam founded a successful cleaning business. Tom has hit a few doubles and triples in his career. Tom enjoys flying his prop plane when he can pull away from the computer screen.

That’s what makes Cooper’s truly unique. They aren’t in the Seed Hatchery program for the seed investment (which of course helps any startup, Boosterville included), they are in it for the grit and grind and the whirlwind business training that happens during a three month, intensive accelerator program.

While Pam sometimes jokes about being the “class mom” with this year’s Seed Hatchery, they work with the best of them, until late hours of the night and back again first thing in the morning. Tom made arrangements with his development job in Indianapolis to work from Memphis every morning before working on Boosterville.

So what is Boosterville?

It’s a new platform that combines the mobile wallet with a loyalty and rewards type program that benefits local schools. Pam and Tom grew tired of neighborhood kids hitting them up with the same popcorn tins, wrapping paper and World’s Finest Chocolate bars. The school fundraiser was destined for a disruption.

Boosterville has partnered with Peabody Elementary in mid-town Memphis and merchants in the Overton Square and Cooper Young neighborhoods for their beta testing.

The Boosterville mobile app is tied in with local merchants and local schools who have agreed to give a kickback to the school of the user’s choice when they checkout with the Boosterville mobile wallet. The Cooper’s live on the cusp of new technology, and to that end, where others have used Paypal or Google Wallet for checkout, Boosterville uses fellow midwestern startup Dwolla as it’s wallet back bone.

Dwolla’s founder Ben Milne knows Tom well and is very enthusiastic about what Boosterville is doing.

Despite their age, and experience, Boosterville is treated the same way every other startup in the Seed Hatchery class is treated. They’ve been going up and down in the weekly rankings like every other startup and they went through a name change and a couple pivots during the past two months.

Boosterville will graduate from the Seed Hatchery program on demo day which is May 16th and will coincide with the Memphis in May festivities. For more info on Boosterville visit

Find more startup news from the south east here.

Memphis’ ZeroTo510 Accelerator Opens Applications For 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Seed Hatchery Announces 6 Team Class Of 2013

Seed Hatchery, Accelerator, Memphis Startup, Indiana Startup, startup newsMemphis’ tech startup accelerator program, now in it’s third year, Seed Hatchery, has unveiled the six startup teams participating in it’s 2013 cohort. The cohort will begin next week on February 8th and end with a Demo Day during the legendary Memphis in May Barbecue Festival.  The applications were plentiful and this years class features five local startups as well as one startup from Indiana. Also new for Seed Hatchery, and a growing trend across America, three of the startups are led by women.

Seed Hatchery teams will receive seed funding as well as an intense mentor driven program designed to cultivate their idea stage businesses and turn them into viable companies/products.

This year’s Seed Hatchery program will be full time. It also features teams that have been heavily vested in the Memphis startup ecosystem driven by the efforts of Launch Your City/Launch Memphis. Most of the teams, prior to even applying to Seed Hatchery, elected to participate in the Startup Village as part of the upcoming, The Startup Conference.

Here are the teams: is led by Brittanny Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick pitched her startup at the Upstart Memphis 48 Hour Launch in December. Fitzpatrick has been working for the Ronald McDonald House in conjunction with St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, which led her to developing this idea. is essentially a system for matching mentors with mentees. Every year mentor organizations are faced with a problem stemming from mismatched mentors and mentees. This problem actually takes up more time and resources than originally matching mentors. will be an algorithm based platform that matches mentors with mentees in a more efficient way.


IncreaseIF plans to match provides cost-analysis software to help scientific researchers figure out which in-house resources should be used. Several factors go into the decision making process for evaluating using an outsourced firm by scientific researchers. These factors include cost, quality, delivery responsiveness, technology and cycle turn around time.

IncreaseIF, where the IF stands for, impact factor, will help automate these decision making processes and speed up the time of scientific research. The startup is led by software engineer Scott Finney, a Memphis local who’s been dabbling in the startup scene and anxious to push forward with this new idea.


Kangaroo is another local startup co-founded by CEO Nick Redmond and Rachel Hurley, one of the three startups featuring a female founder. Hurley is very active in the Memphis local music scene where the passion for this startup came about.  She’s constantly promoting singer songwriters and local bands through venues in town.  Redmond is one of the songwriters and founders of Star & Micey a local band which was named the number one band to see live  in Tennessee by Paste Magazine.

The idea is to create a social network around bands and music.  Sure that idea has been done a hundred times but Hurley and Redmond are putting a brand new spin on it by incorporating geocaching. With Kangaroo they plan to create a platform where touring bands and bands in town can leave behind hidden treasures. Fans can also turn around and leave tokens of appreciation for their favorite bands

“We want to abolish the limited creativity and loss of the personal touch with social media today. Connecting with fans is the only problem musicians have, and this is a huge opportunity to connect people and musicians in a active, real-time environment. From seeking out left behind items by musicians, to taking their personalized walking tours, to following them across a coast, this app and site allows the fans the most hands on experience in social media.” Hurley said.

ScrewPulp Publishing

ScrewPulp is an exciting startup for Memphis. It was originally pitched at the 48 Hour Launch event in June of 2012, the same 48 Hour launch that attracted to Memphis in the first place.

At the event, founder Richard Billings described the problems with self publishing. Self publishers live off reviews, ratings and recommendations which are impossible to drive in any organized way.  Screw Pulp allows authors to give their book away to the first 100 readers, in exchange for a review (good or bad), rating or recommendation. Once the engagement is made the “promo copy” of the book is the readers to keep.

After the first 100 books Screw Pulp goes with a sliding payment scale increasing the cost of the book while it gains popularity. Billings has become a fixture in the local startup scene. Since pitching ScrewPulp in that 48 Hour launch he has been to subsequent launch events where he’s provided feedback and mentorship. They also won the “Risk City” challenge in November as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week in November. That contest involved the startups pitching their idea to Federal Court Judge John Fowlkes in open court.


Sodbuster is the startup that is relocating from Indiana. This startup has a different spin when it comes to founders. The husband and wife team of Tom and Pam Cooper both graduated from college in the early 80’s. They both have had long and prosperous careers in their field. Now they’re going all in on their social entrepreneurship startup.

The team has the benefit of Tom’s 30+ years of experience in programming running the gamut of programming languages from COBOL to C++ and newer languages like HTML 5 and Ruby on Rails.

Sodbuster is reinventing the way local nonprofits connect to their communities to communicate and raise money. They plan on doing this with a new e-newsletter format.


Musistic was founded by Justin Olita, Vince Rogers and CTO Brian Wentzloff. This Memphis based startup wants to become the universal place for musicians to connect in a social network type setting. Once the musicians are matched up through an algorithm the platform will offer the tools necessary to collaborate with each other across the internet and even save the recordings.

Basically imagine a guitar player in Memphis, a bass player in New Hampshire, a drummer in Los Angeles and a singer in Texas. All four musicians can meet up through Musistic where their interests, styles and experience will be matched. They can then jump right into performing together from the comfort of their own homes.

The problem is that there is no universal network for musicians to create, edit and share in real time and all startups for musicians are focusing only on selling and promoting the artist’s work.
Musistic will focus on the creation process” Rogers said.

For more info on Seed Hatchery visit here

Seed Hatchery startups will be featured at The Startup Conference, do you have your tickets yet? Get them here!

 Disclosure: In the interest of journalistic integrity I am compelled to disclose that while I hold no equity interest in any of the startups in the Seed Hatchery program I am a mentor for the program and also on the selection committee. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Biography:

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

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

Interview With Eric Mathews Founder Of Memphis Startup Accelerator Seed Hatchery

Eric Mathews, Seed Hatchery, Memphis startup,startups,startup acceleratorWhile some startup communities are in their earliest stages of development, Memphis’ ecosystem is going on six years old. One of the biggest drivers of that startup community is Eric Mathews, who’s Launch Your City organization has been at the center of Memphis’ entrepreneurial community for over six years.

Launch Your City is the organization behind Launch Memphis, Upstart Memphis, and Seed Hatchery, Memphis’ intense three month startup accelerator. Seed Hatchery is currently taking applications for it’s third class which will begin in February and graduate in May during Memphis’ legendary Barbecue Festival.

We got a chance to catch up with Mathews to discuss Seed Hatchery, what makes it different, and why Memphis. Check out the interview below:

Read More…

Accelerators Everywhere Else Are Still Great For Startups

Startup Accelerator, Ycombinator, startup,startups,seed hatcheryAfter Thanksgiving many startup and tech sites feverishly began telling the story of doom and gloom for startups, follow on funding and startup accelerators.

This vicious news cycle began with the Dow Jones VC Edge report released at the end of November. The report highlighted many positive things, including growth for some key areas in high growth potential tech sectors both here and abroad. Fred Wilson, the principal at Union Square Ventures and a respected authority in the startup and VC space, was quick to point out that VC funding for consumer web and mobile companies was down 42% in the first 9 months of 2012.

The Dow Jones report coupled with Wilson’s commentary sent a tremor through Silicon Valley that we could be on the cusp of a bubble.

While startups and high growth potential technology companies are contributing to job growth, what’s not being considered is the fact that his down turn in VC funding may actually be more of a leveling off.

The same week the Dow Jones report and the Wilson piece came out, Paul Graham, founder of YCombinator sent out more troubling news. Again, interpreted at some of the startup and tech sites as bad news.

Graham had explained how the next cohort of YCombinator companies would receive less funding. The very next day Graham again took to the YCombinator blog to let everyone know that the class size was shrinking as well.

For a startup accepted into the program it instantly meant prestige and validation, not to mention a huge six figure seed investment.   Reading the news from Graham made people all around start doubting the accelerator model. PandoDaily quickly opined. Erin Griffith, a writer for Pando Daily, said “We know accelerators are headed for a shakeout- but do they“? Griffith pointed out that there were over 100 startup accelerators across the country churning out thousands of startups with only a 10% success rate.

But what’s really happening in accelerators and across the startup space, is that people are getting more conservative in the valley because they’re used to a culture of ginormous funding rounds and even bigger exits. Everyone knows the story about Color. Everyone’s also seen the value of the Instagram Facebook deal diminish as Facebook’s stock went down hill fast.  Truth be told, even after the $1 billion dollar Facebook deal, Instagram still had less than 25 employees when they moved into Facebook’s offices back in September.

That billion dollars really produced a lot of jobs right? Consider the fact that the $1 billion dollar Instagram Valuation was more than the New York Times is currently worth and they employ over 10,000 people.

The real question about accelerators is really about whether the goal behind an accelerator is to help yield larger than life venture investments or is it about building companies with solid foundations and solid founders.  It is about the cash or the wave of now more educated entrepreneurs who may not get their first startup entirely off the ground but may hit a home run or even just a double in the next go round?

It seems accelerators with the real goal of producing these crazy funding rounds and crazy exits are no better than public schools who are just teaching whatever standardized test it is to graduate the next class.

The beauty about accelerator programs “everywhere else” is that the startups in the programs are being taught important lessons about starting up, business and even life.

It’s awesome that YCombinator and TechStars have mentor networks that read like a “Who’s Who” in the startup and tech world. Every startup founder wants to learn from these great mentors, and they can, sometimes even in small towns. Take Oklahoma City’s Blueprint For Business accelerator. They all got a chance to learn from a day with Brad Feld.

Perusing the websites of startup accelerators outside the valley (everywhere else) you don’t typically find a “who’s who” of the startup and tech world. What you do find is a “who’s who” in most local business communities.

Startups may apply to programs like the Fort in DC because they want to be close to the epicenter of government. They may apply to the Brandery in Cincinnati because they want to be close to the biggest branded company in the world, Proctor & Gamble. Startups that are logistically focused or enterprise focused may want to apply to Seed Hatchery in Memphis to be close to FedEx. Startups in the entertainment and music space may choose an accelerator in Los Angeles or even Jumpstart Foundry in Nashville.

While some of these accelerators “everywhere else” may have mentors from the Valley participate or founders with big exits, the bulk of their mentor list is either mentors who speak to their niche or mentors in the local community. Which can be equally, if not more important than name brand mentors elsewhere.

Are you building solid companies or is the accelerator only looking for “the next big thing”?


Apply for SeedHatchery here

Check out these accelerator stories from nibletz, the voice of startups “everywhere else”.

And check out the two great accelerator panels at the The Startup Conference, the biggest startup conference in the U.S