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.

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:


On The List Brings Exclusive Concert Experiences to Regular People




Startup Bus is rolling on along, and companies are talking, coding, and pitching fast.

On the Tennessee Startup Bus, On the List dominates the back seats. Even on little sleep, the team is hyped up and excited about their product.


Imagine you’ve gotten tickets to the hottest show coming to town this month. Most likely, you bought your ticket on a platform that charged outrageous fees, and you’ll be far from the stage or squashed in a crowd. That’s how concerts have always been, and it’s what we’ve come to expect.

Meanwhile, a brand–say Heineken–has spent $50,000 on sponsoring the event. That means their name is branded along the event and probably plastered all over the venue. Unfortunately, because we’re all used to branding at this point, you may not even notice the signs.

On the List solves both of these problems. As a fan, you pay the same amount for tickets, but brands sponsor add-ons that make your experience exponentially better. Forget signs or hats. What if Heineken sponsored your beer during the show? My guess is you’d remember Heineken fondly after that, and it’ll probably cost them as much or less than the “big” sponsorship.

The idea was originally pitched by Jack McCann. As a concert promoter in Nashville, McCann had first hand experience in the gap between brand sponsorship and audience engagement.

“When I was a kid I played a lot of Connect the Dots,” McCann told me when I asked about his initial inspiration. (Forgive him. We’ve been up for many, many hours.)

“The idea of throwing money at the big picture and hoping for a halo effect seems like that’s just not effective anymore,” he said once we got serious. “Brands needed a better value proposition. I thought it would be innovative and disruptive to allow them to directly connect with the fans. It gives brands an agile opportunity to curate the fan experience.”

A team of guys coalesced around it and got to work. And by got to work, I mean got to work. During our crazy trip, the team has validated their concept, built their service, and signed up users. One team member made 50 phone calls yesterday, pacing the bus and recruiting users. On the List is smoking through this Startup Bus thing.

You can go ahead and sign up on their website.

Feeling Left Out of the Startup Bus? Play the Game!


 San Antonio or Bust

San Antonio or Bust

Startup Buses around the country are making their way to San Antonio, ice and border patrol be damned.

There’s so much happening on the buses. We’ve been traveling with the Tennessee Startup Bus, which I’ve gotten pretty partial to. But, there are also buses winding their way from Washington state, New York, Guadalajara, Tennessee, Florida, Missouri, and California. Every bus has encountered some issues along the way. (Last we heard, the Mexico bus kept getting stopped at the border.)

But that’s not slowing down the teams.

Every bus has 4-5 teams coding away, building businesses regardless of obstacles. Don’t believe me? Check out the game.

The Startup Bus Game allows you to get to know all the teams and watch their milestones as they travel. You can also pick your favorite (as long as it’s a Tennessee team) and invest in their company.

“The game exists because Startup Bus has a limited number of spots, but people wanted to be involved and know how they could support the teams,” said Jonathan Gottfried, National Director of StartupBus. “So we created the game to give them a way to be more involved and help local entrepreneurs.”

Each team’s performance in the game also affects the final judging. If the judges are on the fence about a team in the qualifying round, a great showing in the Startup Bus Game will help push them into the semifinals.

Don’t miss out on the fun anymore. Head on over to the Startup Bus Game and start investing.

TrustVino Helps You Find the Best Wine Around


trustvinoMy favorite startups are the ones I that make me say, “I want that!”

When I heard the pitch for TrustVino, I wasn’t too impressed. Untapped for wine. Eh, cool, I guess, but not ultimately exciting.

Then the TrustVino team kept talking. Their tagline is Wine, Socially. Similar to a social network, they utilize “friends” and a stream (or, “pour” if you will). Users download the app and have access to the company’s wine database. From there they can start finding friends, recommend wines, and add their own favorite wines. Then, the next time they’re at the wine store, they can pull up the web app and get a recommendation from their friends about the next wine to try.

rsz_incontentad2TrustVino can be used by wine snobs and wine newbs alike. More knowledgeable wine drinkers can expand their expertise, but they can also accumulate a “following” of people looking for great wines. People just getting into wine, who are overwhelmed by the options, vintages, and flavors, can get quality recommendations as they explore the wine world.

Most social media models rely on huge user bases to monetize through ads. TrustVino is shooting for revenue out the gate, with an affiliate model that allows people to click through to to buy the recommended wine. They have some interesting ideas for other revenue streams that can implemented when the user base grows.

Oh, yeah. This awesome app I’m already anxiously awaiting is being built on the Tennessee Startup Bus.

“Initially we thought this would be a cool app to build on a bus about wine,” cofounder Roxanne Spielvogel told me. “But when we started telling people about it we realized that this was actually a real need in the market.”

The idea was pitched by Boaz Reynolds on the first leg of the trip. By the time we got back on the bus in Chattanooga, the team was formed and they were ready to go.

“Ultimately this is something I wanted to use, something I wanted to have. It’s selfishly mine,” Boaz Reynolds, cofounder of TrustVino. “The team gravitated to the idea in Chattanooga, and it just kind of organically happened.”

You can follow TrustVino on Twitter, and they’ll let you know when the app is ready.

There are some amazing companies being built on the Tennessee Startup Bus, and the other buses crisscrossing the country. But TrustVino is the first one I’ve heard of that I’m wishing was a thing right this minute.

Because, hey, we’re stuck in Baton Rouge, LA thanks to ice, and I need a drink.

Ice Doesn’t Slow Down the Tennessee Startup Bus



What do you do when you have a bus full of entrepreneurs, ready to work…and stuck?

The Tennessee Startup Bus is finding that out in Memphis this morning. The sleet and ice started coming down last night on the way in from Birmingham, and by the time we pulled up to the hotel in Memphis, we were walking through ice.

But that’s nothing. This morning the door of the bus was frozen shut. Forget the bad roads or sleet still coming down. We couldn’t even get on the bus!

So, we headed down the street to the beautiful new Start Co building and made ourselves at home.

The teams got right down to work, and the momentum is beautiful to behold. One team is even talking about the users they’ll have signed up by the end of the day.

Because the Tennessee Startup Bus is killing it.


(Note: I totally get that I’m breaking by journalistic integrity by being so biased. But I dare any of you to ride along with a group of amazing entrepreneurs from anywhere and not start cheering for them.)

The awesome thing about our being stranded in Memphis, besides the proximity to our amazing conference venue, is that we’re also close to the new Start Co offices. After moving this weekend, we are the first entrepreneurs to fill the space, which was only a short walk from our hotel.

“We’re excited to host and be able to provide hospitality for a longer period of time,” Start Co founder and CEO Eric Mathews told me. “We believe serendipity is a huge part of entrepreneurship, and we’re glad we were downtown and able to bring the Startup Bus to our space.”

It’s getting crazy on the Startup Bus, y’all. Follow us on @nibletztweets for all the updates. You can also follow the teams to get their perspective:




Tennessee Startup Bus Knows How to Travel in Style


“We’re not taking a Greyhound,” Steve Repetti  told me Saturday night at the orientation for the Tennessee Startup Bus. Well, that was an understatement.


Currently wrapped in the logos of sponsors LaunchTN, Jumpstart Foundry, and Crunchfire, the bus is regularly employed as a tour bus for rock stars and politicians. So, basically, it’s the perfect bus to host the building of the next hot startup.

rsz_incontentad2I’ve never been on the Startup Bus before. The first day was an amazing experience.There’s something unique about a bus full of incredibly smart people, pulled out of their comfort zones and on course to a huge competition.

Like the team who came back to the mentoring session with a half-baked that the investor mentors tore apart.

Like all startup pitch/hackathon events, we started the trip with people pitching their ideas and the crowd picking the ones they wanted to work on. Those of us on the outside were a little surprised by this one idea–an anti-social network social network–being picked. But, hey, the crowd picked it, and the team assembled, so maybe it would work.

It wouldn’t.

All the other mentoring sessions took about 30 minutes. We helped the teams refine their ideas, think through monetization, and identify next steps. An hour into the meeting with this one team, we were still going round-and-round about what the idea even was exactly. Everyone was cramped, tired, and stressed, and we were getting nowhere with this awesome team. At this point, it’s about 8:15, and thanks to the weather, we’re running an hour behind getting into Memphis. Things looked very, very bleak.

This about the time Startup Bus magic happened.

After ascertaining that everyone was at an impasse, with no way to make this project work and no new ideas to pursue, Repetti pulled them to the front of the bus and announced to all the buspreneurs that the team needed help back at square one.

“This isn’t failure,” he said. “You only fail when you decide to quit. This is how the process is supposed to work.”

All of the teams willingly put their own tasks aside to help the 4th team brainstorm new ideas. There was lots of hilarity and very few real ideas, but as the time passed, you could see the team go from defeated to hopeful again. Just the act of being back out with their fellow entrepreneurs, being encouraged, and laughing brought their spirits back up.

Finally someone said, “What about the emergency alert app that was pitched earlier?”

Lightbulbs went off.

The team reconvened with the mentors and talked through the logistics of the idea. The guy with the original idea, who was already on a different team, willingly agreed to let the team build out his idea and consult for them as they went.

Honestly, it was an agonizing 2 1/2 hours. You think stress is bad in a normal room, where you can walk away for a minute to think? Try it on a bus, where there’s nowhere to go.

There’s a lot of time left on this crazy trip. Sundays’s stresses ended well, and the team is re-energized and focused on building the best product they can.

But will Monday end as well?

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!

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!”

Google Chooses 7 “Tech Hubs” Across North America


What makes a city a “tech hub”? In years past we thought of Silicon Valley as THE tech hub, since it was the home of so many technology companies. New York and Austin have carved “tech hub” niches for themselves recently by producing more and more successful startups.

But, now there’s a new standard for becoming a tech hub: What does Google think?

On Wednesday Google announced the development of its Tech Hub Network. Initially, 7 cities were chosen to receive Google money, products, and mentors for their startups. In each city there is a partner organization that will have contact with Google, and those organizations will each host a “Googler,” who will share best practices with startup leaders and work to connect them with Google and the other tech hubs.

In true everywhere else fashion, Google seems to have purposely stayed away from cities more often known for technology. But, you’ll probably recognize most of them from the pages of Nibletz. Here are the 7 organizations that were chosen to kick off the Tech Hub Network:

  • 1871 (Chicago)
  • American Underground (Durham, NC)
  • Coco (Minneapolis, MN)
  • Communitech (Waterloo, Ontario)
  • Galvanize (Denver, CO)
  • Grand Circus (Detroit, MI)
  • Nashville Entrepreneur Center (Nashville, TN)

“These seven Tech Hub partners represent to us some of the very best-in-class organizations having an impact on startups and helping them directly succeed,” Mary Grove, Google’s director of global entrepreneur outreach, said.

Besides money and mentorship, there’s another, subtler benefit to Google’s presence in their tech hubs: recruitment. As more and more companies choose to stay away from the Valley, more cities are competing for that talent. Google Tech Hubs will have one more edge on other cities when it comes to enticing talented developers and engineers.

“Anytime Google names a city as a place they are going to be, the entire tech community takes notice,” Nashville Entrepreneur Center CEO Michael Burcham told The Tennessean. “I think it will be helpful us as we are recruiting coders and engineers to our city.”

There is money changing hands, but Google says it’s all in sponsorships. As of now, they have no plans to take equity in the startups coming from each city. Still, it’s not a financial wash for Google. Right now, many startups choose to launch in iOS because it’s often simpler to do so than in Android. But, with more Google engineers scattered across the country, it makes sense that we could see an increase in Android launches. (This Android girl is doing a happy dance!)

When big name Silicon Valley companies start to take notice of ecosystems everywhere else, it’s a sure sign that it’s time to “start where u are.”

So you’re a last minute person, a few tickets remain for this startup conference.

Nashville Is Great. Ohio Is Too. This Guy Is Oblivious.

Cleveland Startup, Nashville Startup, startup, startups, Ohio, Tennessee

On Saturday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer ran a guest post by Dr. Jeffery Canter. Canter is a retired professor of molecular physiology and biophysics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and a consultant for many healthcare startups in Nashville.

Apparently Canter lived  in Ohio before Nashville. In his piece Canter criticizes Ohio as a whole and offers a laundry list of tips to keep it’s talent, which he says Ohio is giving to Tennessee for free. All of this is based on people Canter has met who relocated to Nashville to launch their businesses. Canter makes a point that Ohio has paid for these people twice:  “First, you paid for educations that were far better than ones these new Tennesseans would have received in Nashville. Second, these productive young people removed themselves from your tax base and left you behind to pay even higher taxes.”

At Nibletz our mission is clear: to give a voice to startups everywhere else.  With offices in both Memphis and Cincinnati, we know a lot about the ecosystems of each state.

Tennessee has an impressive startup ecosystem. They were the second state region in the Startup America Partnership. There are 9 accelerator regions across the state that are administered by a public private partnership called Launch Tennessee. There are several incubator and accelerator programs, with the biggest being GigTank (Chattanooga), Jumpstart Foundry (Nashville), Seed Hatchery (Memphis), and Zeroto510 (also Memphis).

If you think there’s a lot of entrepreneurial and startup activity in Tennessee, you’re absolutely right, but some believe that Ohio has even more going on.

For starters the Brandery in Cincinnati is one of the top 10 startup accelerators in the country. Cincinnati also has the new Cintrifuse initiative, CincyTech for capital, and regularly holds events like Startup Weekend.

Traveling north, Columbus also has it’s share of exciting startup activities and initiatives. Columbus is home to not one but three accelerators; 1492, 10x, and the Founder’s Factory. TechColumbus is one of the driving forces behind the startup scene, and there are also plenty of resources for capital.

Move a little further north to Cleveland and there’s still NO shortage of startup activity. In fact the nationwide non-profit startup acceleration organization, Jumpstart Inc, is headquartered in Cleveland. Then again there’s not just one but two startup accelerators: LaunchHouse and the new FlashStarts founded by Cleveland serial entrepreneur Charles Stack.



So, what makes a good ecosystem?

Gary Hardin at Knoxville startup BounceIt tweeted us the other day, after we ran Entrepreneur Magazine’s 7 best places to startup. Hardin thought that Tennessee should be on that list because there’s no income tax. Makes logical sense, right? Maybe.

As all of our readers know, during the nationwide sneaker strapped road trip, we’ve seen nearly 100 different startup ecosystems in person and are often asked where would we move if we could go anywhere. We chose Memphis, and at that time we had no idea there was no income tax in Tennessee.

When a startup chooses an accelerator or to relocate for one reason or the other, it’s typically resource or industry related. Nashville is hot for medical devices (you’re probably thinking music, but medical devices definitely prevail). If I needed help with branding, I’d move to Cincinnati; automotive, yes we’d still move to Detroit, Government relations or government sales, DC and so on.

Native Memphian Sarah Lacy penned a column just days after her trip to Nashville’s Southland conference entitled “Memo to non-Valley, non-NYC ecosystems: No one you want cares about cost of living.” And guess what, they don’t. Facebook Co-Founder Dustin Moskovitz also says he wouldn’t move somewhere just for optimized taxes. In fact he said this 13 months before Lacy’s article.

Are the Plain Dealer and Dr. Canter just oblivious to what’s going on around them in the startup space?

There are two certain things certain in life: death and taxes. In general, startups are oblivious to both.

Where ever you are, you need to make plans to attend this startup conference for startups everywhere else.






Image credits: Nashville  Cleveland

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.


Southland Kicks Off With Emmy Lou Harris, Rodney Crowell And A Party With SouthernAlpha

Southland, Southern Alpha, startups, Tennessee, Launch Tennessee

The Southland conference officially kicks off Thursday morning at 9am but the pre-festivities started Wednesday night in historic downtown Nashville.

Investors and VIP’s from as far away as Vancouver were treated to a swank VIP party at the legendary Ryman Auditorium to kick off the two day conference celebrating startups, culture and technology. Baker Donelson’s Emerging Technologies Practice Lead, Chris Sloan said it was “the most amazing investor party I’ve ever been to” Why? Because Launch Tennessee, the producers of the conference, were able to get local national country stars Emmy Lou Harris and Rodney Crowell to dazzle the crowd with an intimate performance.

Launch Tennessee CEO Charlie Brock getting into an exciting discussion with one of the hundreds of entrepreneurs at Southland

Launch Tennessee CEO Charlie Brock getting into an exciting discussion with one of the hundreds of entrepreneurs at Southland

While that party was going on, event attendees who arrived Wednesday evening were treated to a roof top party at the Rock Bottom Brewery hosted by our cousins at SouthernAlpha. Southern Alpha’s Walker Duncan, Kelly Boothe and Dave Ledgerwood were meeting and greeting startup founders, entrepreneurs, startup support organizations and investors from up and down the east coast.  Even 500 Startups partner and founder of Paul Singh, was on hand, with his lovely wife Suki mingling with the crowd, talking up startups and what can do for founders and investors.

We bumped into Kim Munzo, founder of Florida based Aspiredu and the winner of $25,000 best in village award at The Startup Conference. Munzo made the trek from Tampa Florida to see what the Southland buzz was about and to update us about the progress their educational analytic startup has made since winning the crown at our conference.

Steve Buhrman the CEO and founder of am>venture backed (we are also backed by am>ventures) WannaDo gave us a sneak back of a bad ass upgrade to their event discovery app and assured us that they will be adding new metropolitan areas rapidly.

chrisOur Memphis startup community was in full force. On the hot and muggy night people kept saying Memphis brought the heat, and that we did. Pam Cooper (Boosterville), Brittany Fitzpatrick (MentorMe), Richard and Richard (ScrewPulp), Charleson Bell (Bionanovations) and Allan Daisley (Memphis Bioworks), shut the party down (as usual).

If Tuesday evening was any indication of what to expect from Southland this is going to be one epic conference. Stay tuned for more Southland coverage here at the voice of startups everywhere else.


Less Than 4 Weeks To Go Until The Biggest Startup Conference In The Country The Startup Conference The Startup Conference, Memphis, Tennessee, startup event, disrupt, igniteIn less than four weeks the nearly 2000 entrepreneurs, investors, startup founders, designers, developers and startup resources will converge on downtown Memphis at the Memphis Convention Center  for The Startup Conference. (less than 15% of the tickets sold zipcode to TN)

Arrival will be on a Sunday when all the attendees and investors (over 400 who’ve purchased tickets), will check out over 100 startups in our startup village (limited space still available see below). The startups in the village will also be part of a speed pitch contest with a $25,000 cash prize and other service prizes to boot.

The Global Accelerator Network will be on hand throughout the conference helping with three major panels, “What I learned in an accelerator”, an accelerator Managing Director panel, and the benefits of doing an accelerator. They’ll also be on hand at their booth to help startups find the right accelerator for their needs. (more here)

Bill Harris the former CEO of Paypal and Intuit will talk about adult supervision and turning startups back over to founders. He’ll also speak about his experience mentoring and advising some of the valley’s elite including the Paypal Mafia and some of the Facebook millionaires (and billionaires). (more here)

Scott Case CEO of Startup America will talk about his experiences helping cultivate startup regions for the Startup America Partnership. We’re sure he’ll also provide some of his great stories from building into the brand that changed the way travel is purchased.

FedEx will be on hand talking about how one man’s crazy entrepreneurial vision has turned into the largest logistics company in the world, and how it was grown right in Memphis Tennessee, the heart of everywhere else.

Mike Bott, the GM at The Brandery will provide a lecture on branding for startups. (more here)

We’re also having panels like “Kick Ass Female Founders From Everywhere Else”, “Raising money everywhere else” and several others.

We have a handful of speakers that will be announced next week after tickets go off sale, but we guarantee there hasn’t been one single venue conference in the country with as many attendees or with such unparalleled access to speakers, networking and investors as “ The Startup Conference”.

There are still a handful of attendee tickets left that can be purchased below.  We also have 5 Startup Village booths that can be purchased below as well. Tickets officially go off-sale on January 21.  Don’t miss out on this unbelievable opportunity.