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Start Co. Triple Threat

When is an accelerator not just an accelerator? When it’s Start Co.

The magic is the “three in one” approach that brings a large, international, and diverse group of founders to Memphis to launch new ventures. Offering funding, mentorship, intense programming, capital networks, and much more, Start Co. helps startup teams get big result says Eric Mathews, founder and CEO.

“The core of Start Co. is our accelerators, each of which comes with the three ‘M’s’ as an investment: Money, Mentorship and a Marine-style boot camp,” Mathews says. “We also provide post-acceleration and portfolio management support so that graduating participants move to the next level, including more funding. Our goal is not just to get them started, but to make sure they are on the pathway to long term success.”

Start Co.’s 2015 accelerators are:

  • Seed Hatchery: A B2B tech operation focusing on software-as-a-service
  • Sky High: Focusing on social impact technology
  • Upstart: Getting women-led tech startups into the marketplace

The three operate with a great deal of business input and mentoring with companies like PayPal, AutoZone, Softlayer (an IBM Company), and others on board. More companies join all the time, helping to create a diverse portfolio of startups that build on the strengths of Memphis.

“We are building a diverse startup ecosystem, and are always partnering not only with professional service providers, but also angel networks and other investors,” Mathews says. “A major theme for us is empowerment and inclusion. Memphis is a majority-minority city, and women and minorities are very underrepresented in the startup world. We can’t advance our community by leaving 80 percent of it behind — entrepreneurship is for everyone, and diversity is a very important component to building our ecosystem. We want to work with investors, founders, and partners that share our beliefs.”

Business-to-business startups are foundational to Start Co., and they come in many forms, from software-as-a-service and business apps to social impact solutions. Memphis is home to International Paper, ServiceMaster, FedEx, AutoZone, and St. Jude, while also being a national “hub” for transportation and logistics. To plug into that growth, Start Co. ran a logistics accelerator in 2014. This is a prime example of how the synergy between Start Co. and area industries plays to everyone’s strengths.

“We focus on information technology as a core solution to moving our community ahead,” Mathews says. “We want to perpetuate that, so we can continue to build the jobs of tomorrow.”

That vision is working. In the last year alone, $1.7 million has been raised by the most recent Start Co. accelerator graduates, and more than $11.5 million has been raised by Start Co. client companies in the past couple years.

“Our goal is to be nimble; I’m an entrepreneur, and have been building this platform for more than eight years,” Mathews says. “This translates into a high fidelity, high-integrity system. We are not asking our entrepreneurs to do anything we haven’t done ourselves, and many cases we’ve done them recently. We’re not armchair entrepreneurs here, building out some large, strategic plan. We believe action removes doubt and that iteration trumps perfection.”

About Start Co.

Start Co. is a nationally recognized nonprofit 501(c)(3) Memphis-based venture development organization that relentlessly builds founders and companies, promoting entrepreneurship for everyone with a focus on digital startups. Start Co. is a member of the Global Accelerator Network and is currently working with JumpStart, Inc. to advance Memphis’ economic growth through entrepreneurship. The organization is supported by partners including archer>malmoBaker DonelsonThe Marston GroupOrion Federal Credit UnionMosaik Solutions and Softlayer (an IBM company). More information can be found at

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