Global Entrepreneurship Week, that annual celebration of entrepreneurship started by the Kauffman Foundation, is a perfect time to recognize the exciting things happening for startup businesses in Memphis.
Memphis is home to three accelerator programs devoted to assisting startups: Seed Hatchery, ZeroTo510 and the brand-new accelerator for women only, Upstart Memphis, whose first class of entrepreneurs graduated just a few weeks ago.
These accelerators are intensive boot camp-style programs that teach the founders of startups about business plans, marketing, intellectual property, securing funding and more.
Seed Hatchery and Upstart Memphis are run by StartCo, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building the startup scene in Memphis through accelerators and other events and programs for entrepreneurs. ZeroTo510, an initiative of Memphis BioWorks, is the nation’s first accelerator cohort focused on medical-device research and manufacturing.
In August, some of the recent graduates from Seed Hatchery and ZeroTo510 pitched their companies’ business plans to a large crowd of investors and thought leaders at the first statewide demo day, organized by Launch Tennessee — a public/private organization that promotes entrepreneurship, fosters the commercialization of technologies, increases the flow of capital into Tennessee-based companies and raises the profile of the state.
During demo day, the leaders of an accelerator’s graduating companies get a chance to use what they’ve learned over a three-month program to present their companies to a gathering of potential investors. The statewide demo day wrapped up a busy month of similar events in cities across Tennessee.
Three Memphis companies — View Medical, Mobilizer and Screwpulp — were selected during the statewide demo day to participate in The TENN, Launch Tennessee’s new master accelerator program. The TENN was created for startups that have completed a traditional accelerator program but still need support, which The TENN is providing through master mentors, learning events and more.
View Medical offers a high-quality LED light source for deep-cavity surgeries, featuring a flexible cable that extends down from an overhead light. Mobilizer makes it easy for patients to walk with all their medical equipment. Screwpulp is an eBook marketplace with customer-driven pricing and built-in marketing.
In September, I had the chance to meet the founders of these local startups during The TENN Roadshow, which stopped at the FedEx offices during a week-long bus tour that put The TENN entrepreneurs in front of senior executives at several of Tennessee’s largest companies.
We at FedEx were thrilled to participate in The TENN Roadshow and provide advice to these Tennessee startups. It was exciting to see the creative ideas coming out of our state’s uniquely connected network of accelerators. As Tennessee becomes a hotbed for entrepreneurship, corporate engagement between companies like FedEx and startups is key for increased exposure and success.
More than 115 countries, 24,000 organizations and 7 million people participate in Global Entrepreneurship Week events each year. In 2012, 96 events were held in Tennessee to mark the week — the most of any state in the country.
We hope to lead the country again this year and I hope you will seek out some of the local events being held right here in Memphis. For example, on Thursday the University of Memphis will have the grand opening of the Crews Center for Entrepreneurship.
I’m excited to see what events are held in Memphis and across the state this week as Tennessee participates in Global Entrepreneurship Week again. Even more so, I’m looking forward to continued innovation in startups from Tennessee.