Former VP Speaks at Southland, Comments on Edward Snowden



This morning the Southland Conference in Nashville, TN kicked off with a bang. Former Vice President Al Gore joined Pando CEO Sarah Lacey on stage, starting the morning right with local Belle Meade bourbon.

Lacey opened the interview with what I assume is Al Gore’s favorite question:

“So, did you invent the Internet?”

It didn’t take too long, though, to start talking politics. When asked about the NSA, the former Vice President got fired up.

“You don’t find a needle in a haystack by bringin’ in more hay!” he said, moving to the end of seat to emphasize his point.

He also pointed out that as scary as government surveillance is, corporate surveillance is even scarier. He called out Google in particular, which is interesting considering his position as a senior adviser to the search giant.

“What about Edward Snowden?” Lacey asked. “Hero or traitor?”

After a little hemming and hawing about it not being that binary, the former politician finally said it:

“On the spectrum of traitor to hero, I would put him more on the hero side.”

He went on to talk about how Snowden broke laws to reveal what he did, but the actions he exposed were so much worse that they justified the civil disobedience.

There’s a ton more to come at Southland. Follow us on Twitter to keep up with all goings on in Nashville.


Southland Takes Fireside Chats to A Whole New Level (+ Promo for Nibletz Readers)

Southland Logo (1)The second annual Southland Conference kicks off in less than a month, June 9, in Nashville.

We reported in October that Sarah Lacy and PandoDaily were teaming up with LaunchTN to produce this installment of Southland. After a trip to Nashville for last year’s conference, Lacy was positive Pando needed to be involved with Southland going forward.

“I’ve always known that designing the next three day tech conference would inevitably be a big part of our business,” she said in a post announcing the partnership.

The schedule looks mostly like an interviewing bonanza for Lacy. The “speakers” will all sit down for onstage interviews with the PandoMedia CEO, a format she’s perfected during the PandoMonthly series.

Attendees to Southland will get to hear insights from folks like

  • Al Gore–former Vice President of the US and native Tennessean
  • Christy Turlington Burns–supermodel & founder of Every Mother Counts
  • Aaron Levie–CEO of Box
  • Phil Libin–CEO of Evernote
  • Andy Dunn–CEO of Bonobos
  • Bill Lerer–Managing Director of Lerer Ventures & CEO of Thrillist

As a nod to the South, the CEO of Acumen Brands John James will talk with Lacy about how to build an ecommerce powerhouse in Arkansas (when most of the competition comes from New York and the Bay Area.)

Lacy is well known for not babying executives too much and asking tough questions on stage. Like when she recently asked Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, “How much of a fuck-up was losing Instagram to Facebook?

You can imagine the questions for Al Gore. Perhaps something along the lines of green energy investments and Kleiner Perkins?

Southland isn’t only about Sarah Lacy grilling top tech talent, though. Each day will also include “Salon Sessions,” smaller gatherings that allow attendees to ask questions of the speakers.

And, of course, the Southern flair that made Southland a great event last year: whiskey tastings, Southland Village, a makers’ area, and nightly concerts from artists like J Roddy Walston and the Business.

Nick and I will be in Nashville for the big event, and LaunchTN and PandoMedia are offering Nibletz readers a deep discount on tickets to the conference. You can get your tickets at the Southland website and use the promo code SL-NIBLETZ to knock $1000 off the price.

Apply to Southland & You Could Win a $100,000 Investment


Southland Logo

Registration is now open to apply for Southland 2014 and the chance to win $100,000 investment. 10 teams will be selected to pitch to a rock star panel of judges that includes: Kirsten Green (Forerunner Ventures), Josh Kopelman (First Round Capital), Shervin Pishevar (Sherpa Capital) just to name a few.

We talked about the new version of Southland last October, when PandoDaily’s Sarah Lacy announced that Pando would be a co-producer of the event. At that time, Lacy told me excitedly about wanting to showcase startups that were unique and special in the South.

“There are some companies that can only be built in the South,” she said.

In addition to the 10 companies chosen to pitch, up to 50 will also present in the Southland Village. A team of judges picked by PandoDaily will judge the applications and make the selections

Startups applying to Southland must be currently raising money and can not have raised more than $1.5 million.

After the Pitch Competition on June 10th, the winner will be offered a $100,000 investment opportunity. The catch is that on June 11, they will have to negotiate the terms of that investment, live on stage in front of the audience.

Now, much like Shark Tank, the terms will be subject to follow up and due diligence, but the pressure will be on to negotiate will in front of the crowd.

You can apply to the Southland Pitch Competition here.

In the mean time, there are another 10 startups vying for your vote and a chance to pitch at the Everywhere Else Tennessee Startup Avenue. Go check them out and vote for your favorite!



PandoDaily Bets on the South

Sarah Lacy & Gary Swart at Southland 2013

Sarah Lacy & Gary Swart at Southland 2013


Just a little while ago, media company PandoDaily announced a new partnership with the Southland conference in Nashville, TN. PandoDaily will provide the programming, and Launch TN, the public/private organization behind the conference, will provide the Southern culture.

I spoke with PandoDaily’s Editor-in-Chief and CEO Sarah Lacy by phone this morning, and it was obvious the Southern girl in her is excited to strike up a partnership in the region.

“I really believe there are some great companies in the South,” she said. “It may not be as dense as the Valley, but there are definitely great companies to be discovered.” (Of course, here at Nibletz we knew that, didn’t we?)

That sentiment plays out in much of Lacy’s career, both with her books and during her time at TechCrunch. Her second book Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky: How the Top 1% of Global Entrepreneurs Profit from Global Chaos was all about discovering entrepreneurs in emerging markets, and her final project at TechCrunch was the historic Disrupt Beijing.

“Some of the companies we saw in China are some of the best companies I’ve seen anywhere,” she stated.

With that discovery in mind, Lacy was eager to talk about some of the innovations the Pando team will be making to the traditional startup competition. We’re all familiar with the endless pitching that happens at tech conferences. There are dozens of companies, but because it has little benefit to the audience, few of them stay to listen, effectively undercutting the most important moment for the startup onstage. There are also strange dynamics when an investor is expected to offer feedback on a company he or she’s had 5 minutes to understand.

At Southland 2013, startups in the competition had to go through a selection process to be chosen. Under PandoDaily’s direction in 2014, that process will be even more rigorous and will result in only 10 companies competing. Conference-goers can sit through 5 pitches a day, right?

To guarantee that, Lacy will also innovate the actual format. Startups are often at a disadvantage during a pitch, because when an investor asks a smart question, it can appear disrespectful or argumentative for the founders to argue a point. However, if they’re quiet, they don’t get to fully defend their company. At Southland 2014, each startup in the pitch contest will have a personal coach in the industry. This person will spend time with the startup and get to know their company. Then, they will join the startup onstage and act as an advocate during the judge’s questions.

There’s nothing more entertaining that 2 experts verbally sparring, am I right?

Lacy was also excited about some of the video and audio they plan to experiment with.

“The best things about conferences happen backstage, and those are stories that don’t get told,” she said.

So, at Southland 2014, there will be cameras rolling backstage to catch some of those stories for the PandoDaily team to use.

I asked Lacy if this signaled a shift in content strategy for them, and if the fundraising rumors were true. Of course, she wouldn’t comment on the fundraising, but it would definitely make sense for them to begin seeking capital from outside of the Valley. Because they’ve raised money from almost everyone in Silicon Valley, they are free from any one investor owning a large portion of the company. As a media company covering these investors, that makes it easier to be less biased in coverage. If they’re beginning to branch out, raising money from the big VC’s everywhere else makes sense for the same reasons.

As far as shifting coverage to outside of the Valley, Lacy kind of shrugged that off, too.

“We aren’t putting reporters on the ground in every region or anything,” she said. “But we do hope to uncover the best startups around the country and connect them with our audience.”

The truth is, the South doesn’t get enough love. We’re often connected with horrible statistics in racism, education, obesity, and poverty. But every Southerner, including Sarah Lacy, knows there’s more to the story. There are amazing companies down South, doing things only a Southern company could do.

And, they’re servin’ it up with a, “Hey, y’all!”

Has Patch Met It’s Match In Mississippi Startup PushLocal?

PushLocal, Mississippi startup,startup,startup interview, southland

Last month when we were at the Southland festival in Nashville, Tennessee, we met a lot of great startups from across the Southeast. One of those was PushLocal from Natchez, Mississippi.

You may be thinking, there’s startups in Natchez, Mississippi??

Well yes there are, and that’s what we’re here for, as the voice of startups everywhere else.

Zach Jex is a local Natchez lawyer, businessman, and mobile app developer. He’s developed a handful of apps, but one problem he became passionate about was how to get a community to embrace local news, rewards, and deals. To do that, he had to make sure that deals and information are targeting the right, local customers.

It’s easy for a big chain store to send out a mass market deal to customers in Anytown, USA, because there just happens to be one of their stores in that market, but with all of the noise coming from so many different deals sites and apps, how can the local merchant survive?

That was what drove Jex and the team behind PushLocal to create a new kind of community. It’s almost like Patch on a hyper local level with daily deals, loyalty, and rewards built in.

But PushLocal isn’t just about restaurants and retail. They want it to be the ultimate local destination where real business owners can reach real people. PushLocal is also about the community, which is why in addition to retail and restaurants, you’ll find local businesses, civic organizations, and local government as well. Is the Humane Society doing a special on spay and neutering? Check PushLocal. Is Bob’s hardware store selling snow shovel’s for a dollar? PushLocal would know. Is there a new local festival coming to town? Yup, PushLocal will have that, too.

PushLocal delivers all of those important messages without the noise of the unimportant ones. Check out our interview with PushLocal from last month’s Southland festival. Find out more about PushLocal here at


This Nashville startup is taking loyalty and rewards to a whole other level.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Chattanooga Startup Skuid, The Easiest Way To Build Salesforce Pages

Skuid, Chattanooga startup, Southland, startups, Salesforce

Salesforce, the cloud-based customer relationship management platform, is feature packed and quite possibly the best way to retain customer data. There are literally thousands of features, and customizations built into the platform. For a lot of companies, the easiest way to get their employees on the platform is to scale it down or build custom Salesforce pages, apps, and UI’s based on the information relevant to that company.

Normally, building interface components can be a long, drawn-out process. Salesforce has attempted to make it easier by providing shortcuts and one click access to certain features, but there’s still quite the learning curve.

Now a Chattanooga startup called Skuid has built a drag and drop platform that allows just about anyone to quickly build customized Salesforce pages. You can take one data field and move it to wherever you need it on the interface.

The company launched four months ago and has already bulked up to a staff of 12 and moved to the Southern Saddlery building, home to some other “ramp up” companies. reported that the company was able to go cash flow positive without taking a venture capital investment.

“We thought when we started out that we would need investment to get launched, and we don’t need it at this point,” Ken McElrath, co-founder and president, said. “We started with in-pocket capital, and we’re already cash flow-positive. We had numbers we were trying to hit in our first quarter, and we blew those out of the water. I think we were too conservative in our growth plans.”

Skuid isn’t the only Salesforce startup to go straight to revenue in Tennessee. Memphis based Cloud For Good, a company that does SalesForce development for non-profits and religious institutions, went straight to revenue.

Check out our video interview with Skuid from The Southland Conference below. For more information visit


Here’s more Southland coverage at




oDesk’s Gary Swart Has Advice for Startups Everywhere Else

Gary Swart, Sarah Lacy, Odesk, Southland

The Valley has done what the Valley is good at.

So said Sarah Lacy–native Memphian and founder of PandoDaily–during her Southland fireside chat with oDesk’s Gary Swart. This is great news for entrepreneurs everywhere else. While Valley companies have spent the last 30 years focused on tech, startups everywhere else think more about solving problems in every other industry. Families, healthcare, education, logistics, publishing. The list of industries ripe for disruption and innovation could go on. And, thanks to the tech created in Silicon Valley, those companies can build right where they are.

When asked if startups could legitimately stay out of the Valley, Swart encouraged entrepreneurs to take it slowly and really weigh the options. Depending on the company, moving to a tech hub could make sense. But, services like oDesk make it easier to hire workers from anywhere, and free tools like Skype and Google docs enhance collaboration. Gone are the days when people have to move across the country to work with one company. Now, according to Swart, “Work is not a place. Work is about finding the right people.”

And the perennial struggle to find investment outside Silicon Valley?

Paul Santinelli actually addressed that issue later in the day.

Stay put. Find great talent. Tackle a big problem. The money will follow.

Easier said than done, of course. Silicon Valley is a compact space, filled to the brim with entrepreneurs and capital. “Everywhere else,” on the other hand, is vast. It can be pretty difficult to find the best people, at just the right time, and an investor willing to take the risks associated with an early stage startup.

But, if–as Lacy says–the Valley is tech and millenial-focused and that market is saturated, there is huge opportunity out there. So, how do startups around the world make it happen?

Swart has some ideas:

  1. Don’t ride the rollercoaster. Entrepreneurship is full of extreme highs and extreme lows, often both within a minute’s time. In order to keep focused, entrepreneurs should stay even-keeled throughout the process.
  2. Ideas are great, but we all know ideas aren’t everything. Your big idea needs a big market and money, followed by great execution.
  3. So, what if you have all these things, but nothing seems to happen? External validation is important. Every idea has some naysayers, but if literally NO ONE is interested in what you’re building, it probably won’t ever sell.
  4. Always stretch yourself. Lacy said that early in her career, she purposely forced herself to “jump off cliffs” to keep herself uncomfortable. It’s the only way to keep your edge.
  5. Start as narrow as you can. Pick one thing and become the best at that one thing. After establishing expertise, then you can branch out into one or two other areas.

Lacy and Swart weren’t encouraging delusions. They both talked about how hard it is to be an entrepreneur, and any founder outside Silicon Valley can list the ways it’s especially difficult. But, it seems the tide is turning. Ecosystems around the world are thriving, and more companies are tackling big problems. Throw in some of the irrational optimism we entrepreneurs are known for, and it might just be possible to build the company of your dreams after all.

Here’s more Southland coverage at


Today Entrepreneurship Is A Mindset, oDesk Infographic Reveals!

Southland, infographic, startup,odesk,Gary Swart

Although some are suggesting that the worst is behind us in the current economy, the situation over the last 10 years sent more and more people into freelance and entrepreneurship. People found that they could no longer look for a job; they needed to create one.

That’s one of the things that’s driven the success of oDesk, a marketplace for just about anyone with any skill that can be done on a computer.

While many websites and companies devoted to remote working have an emphasis on development, design, and programming, oDesk is different. In fact, any startup anywhere could find the workforce they need via oDesk, right from their own hometown. Whether you’re looking for software developers, engineers, business development people, researchers, administrative handlers, or PR people, you’ll find them on oDesk.

Since 2005 oDesk has been one of the driving forces behind remote working.  Now millions of people have been connected to jobs across the street, or around the world through the power of oDesk.

As more and more people turn to freelancing and remote work, oDesk released this very interesting infographic that shows not only are they onto something, but freelancing, remote work, and entrepreneurship are rising at a lightning fast paced.

According to their research, today 90% of people think that entrepreneurship is a mindset rather than starting a company. With that in mind, oDesk has found that 72% of people still in “regular jobs” want to quit to be entirely independent. 61% have said they’re likely to quit within 2 years.  Freedom seems to be the driving force behind this trend.

Check out this very interesting infographic below, and if you’re looking for [fill in the blank] check out




Check out the welcome PandoDaily’s Sarah Lacy gave oDesk CEO Gary Swart at the Southland Conference.


We Found The Future Of Loyalty & Rewards At Southland

Facedeals, Nashville startup,startup,Southland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find out more about Facedeals here at

Here’s more of our Southland coverage.


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

AspirEDU,Florida Startup,,Startup Weekend, Southland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out more of our Southland coverage here!


Distil Networks Is Following Us Around The Country Because They Block Bots

Distill Networks, Southland, DC Startup, startup pitch

We were in Washington, DC and Baltimore last week as part of the Sneaker-Strapped Startup Road Trip. That’s where we ran into Distil Networks CEO and co-founder Rami Essaid. A few days and 665 miles later, we’ve run into Essaid again, this time at Southland in Nashville, Tennessee.

Distil Networks was one of 50 regional startups chosen to exhibit at Southland’s Startup Village. They were also one of 20 startups selected to pitch onstage at the conference as well.

We first reported on Distill Networks back in August when they were going by the name Since then, they’ve added more features, more employees, more users and changed their name to Distil Networks.

The company offers a very useful service. Through a simple line added in a websites DNS entry, Distil is able to quickly check a website and identify and disable “bots” that can often pirate content, hype statistics, and do other aggravating things. Their technology allows content sites big and small to function faster and stop worrying about their content being auto-posted to thousands of blogs world wide.

One of their customers is the site Ripoffreport came to Distill because they suspected that bots were stealing their articles. One quick analysis and Distil found out that they were correct, but that was just the beginning. After turning Distil’s service on they found that they were stopping 50,000 malicious bots a day that were reducing their server load by a whopping 70%. Distil increased the site’s load time by 50% and by stopping the theft of their content, for the first time in years, ripoffreport saw an increase in visitors to their site.

But malicious bots aren’t just about stealing content and hogging band width. As Essaid says in his Southland pitch below, malicious bots steal e-commerce site data, post fake posts to forums, auto-click on ads and other things that are harmful to businesses who rely on their server infrastructure.

Distil is constantly updating their base of malicious bots. When they find a new malicious bot on one of their client sites, they test all of their client sites for the same bot. They also have other safety features in place, like randomizing their code every few minutes so bad bots can’t penetrate it.

Check out Essaid’s full pitch at Southland below and for more information visit them at


Here’s more coverage from Southland 2013 at The Voice Of Startups Everywhere Else.



Banyan, The Git Hub For Science, Shows Off New Features & A New Deck At Southland

Banyan,Chattanooga Startup,startup, Toni Gamayel, Gigtank, Southland

On Wednesday, Chattanooga transplant startup Banyan was selected to pitch on stage as part of the Southland Summit in Nashville. You may remember Banyan; they won the entrepreneur track at the GigTank demo day last summer and took home $100,000 dollars. Although it wasn’t a condition of receiving their prize, the Banyan team–Toni Gamayel, Travis Staton, and TJ Weigel–decided to relocate their startup from Florida to Chattanooga late last year.

Banyan billed itself as a collaborative research tool that could handle enormous amounts of data. They were the only GigTank participant that really talked about the effects of 1gb ethernet and big data during last year’s Demo Day. To make his point, the company’s pitch man, Gamayel, point it this way: To take two terrabytes of data from Stanford to London, it would be faster to get on a plane with two hard drives than it would be with conventional Internet speeds. In contrast,  Chattanooga’s 1gb ethernet pipe would allow that data to transmit in just four hours.

seriousDuring the Southland pitch Gamayel revealed that scientific research hasn’t fundamentally changed since the 1700’s. Even in present day scientists have a really hard time collaborating because they need to keep control of their authorship. Gamayel also said that universities are very protective of their researchers as well. Gamayel pointed to a case where Stanford University lost $50 million dollars when they couldn’t clearly state whether or not a professor worked on a certain piece of research under his university role or independently.

The newest iteration of Banyan solves all of these problems. For starters they’ve added profiles for scientists and researchers on the system. Scientists can clearly list their accolades and achievements, skills, and research they’ve authored. There is also the base tool for collaboration as well as a way to leave comments and feedback. Finally Banyan has incorporated a system that can time and date stamp each iteration of the research and correctly credit the author. So in that case at Stanford, it would be clear whose “time” the professor was on.

Although we thought Gamayel did a fine job pitching their exciting product, he was a little hard on himself, stating after the pitch that it was the first time that he’s talked about the new features to a large audience, with some of their investors in the crowd.

Banyan is a fascinating product and is sure to continue changing the way researchers and scientists work. Check out Gamayel’s Southland pitch below.

Here’s more of our Southland Coverage at



Tennessee Is Great For Startups, Bill Hagerty Tells Us Why

Tennessee, Nashville, Southland, Startups, Haslam, Bill HagertyTennessee Economic Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty took the stage at the Southland Conference in Nashville on Wednesday morning to introduce the conference and highlight why Tennessee is great for startups.

Since the current administration took over two and a half years ago, Tennessee has become number one in the southeast and number four in the nation for manufacturing job growth. Tennessee is also number one in the southeast for personal income growth.

But one thing that we found interesting is that Tennessee has the best balance sheet in the country.

serious“I think everybody knows that the nation has experienced a serious fiscal crisis and if you start looking across the states you’ll see a very wide divergence in terms of the fiscal situation that each state faces. What that does is present a different risk profile for the companies that choose to locate in those states.  Tennessee has the lowest debt per capita in America.”

This is important because Tennessee hasn’t put itself in a position where they haven’t raised the debt ceiling to a point where it can’t be manageable.

All of this means that Tennessee is a great place to grow jobs, personal wealth and families. Hagerty went on to discuss the regions history of entrepreneurship including companies like FedEx that call Tennessee home.

Finally, Hagerty pointed out one of the biggest claims to fame for Tennessee in regards to startups.  Since the Haslam administration took over Tennessee has become home to nine startup accelerator regions all administered by Launch Tennessee. Each startup accelerator region has an incubator or accelerator program.

While many don’t think of Tennessee in terms of entrepreneurship these highlights along with the infrastructure in place already for business owners, job creators, startups and entrepreneurs, it’ s no wonder that Tennessee is first for startups in the South East.

Check out this video of Hagerty’s speech at Southland.

Check out more of our Southland coverage here.