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December 2nd, 2015

December 2nd, 2015


Meeting Ted Alling
A few months ago I sent a brief note to Ted Alling. Don’t know Ted? He’s one of the founders of Access America Transport (now Coyote Logistics), a serial entrepreneur, and co-founder of a venture incubator called Lamp Post Group. Yesterday, I met with Ted. Let me just say this — I had little to no value to offer him, and the kindness and interest he showed was outrageous. He met me at the elevator with a smile and a handshake. We took a quick tour of the Lamp Post offices and he explained the operation and their heartbeat, drive, and vision for the future. He told me his passion was to build up the core of Chattanooga innovation (downtown) and impact the community for better as result. Then, he asked me how HE could better serve and connect me with the entrepreneurial community.

Regional Partnership Develops New Entrepreneur Development Center
The Roane Alliance
Proton Power, Inc. has entered into a partnership with the Roane Chamber and the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC) to create a center to support business startups.  Sizzle TechStart is the creation of Dr. Sam Weaver, President/CEO of Proton Power and his wife, Dr. Carol Jane Weaver, President of Sizzle.  Through partnerships with local economic development agencies, Proton Power hopes to duplicate the success it realized by utilizing the space where it began in 2007. “When you think about a steak, it’s the sizzle, not the meat, that creates the excitement,” said Dr. Weaver when describing how he and his wife created the name and concept for the business incubator. “I think I know what entrepreneurs need,” Weaver added.  “They need the space to set up and work. Sizzle TechStart will make it easier for them to get started.”

Starting Up in Nashville: What Music City Offers Entrepreneurs
We were just finishing up an interview over lunch at Husk in downtown Nashville.  I was interviewing Mike Butera, the founder of Artiphon, an all-in-one instrument device, designed to inspire casual musical creativity and exploration. When the waiter came over to drop the check, he says, “It’s a weird…but I saw you had that guitar-thing.” Butera and the waiter compare neighborly notes; the interaction is convivial. “It’s a small town,” Butera tells me as the waiter walks away. That little moment in the restaurant says a lot about Nashville. Also, and most appropo, the exchange at the end of lunch at Husk demonstrates how Nashville is increasingly becoming a city of entrepreneurs.

SweetBio Get’s Big Investment for Medicinal Honey Product
Memphis Business Journal
A few months after graduating from the ZeroTo510 accelerator and a little less than a year after the company was created, SweetBio has finalized $900,000 in follow-on funding. The funding, which comes from a combination of MB Venture Partners and Innova Memphis, will bring the total amount of money SweetBio has raised since its formation to $1 million. “We believe the general market trend for more natural products and solutions is quickly spreading to the health care field, and SweetBio’s products are timed perfectly to take full advantage of this trend,” said Jan Bouten, partner at Innova Memphis.

VC’s Lucro Marketplace for Healthcare Solutions Seeks Array of Partners
Venture Nashville Connections
Vendors who don’t register with year-old Lucro “either don’t know about it yet, or don’t want to stand scrutiny,” said Founder and CEO Bruce Brandes, based in Nashville. For vendors who want the best shot at customer-facing exposure via Lucro, action is required. Brandes said all healthcare-sector vendors are invited immediately to register to claim and “curate” their brief pre-populated entries, before vendor ratings by buy-side influentials begin in earnest, next spring. Brandes confirmed that the company does not yet have a model firmly in-place for producing revenues. Asked how Lucro will monetize its platform and services, Brandes said the company has about “two-dozen ideas,” but is holding first-generation modeling in abeyance, instead placing priority on building the Lucro community, generating conversations and determining exactly what value it can add for participants, and how.

If you’ve ever read a profile of a successful US tech company, you’ve probably read a story like this: white men meet while studying at a prestigious university and start a business out of a garage. HP, Apple, Google, Amazon – all started by white men in garages. It’s a story that inspires young tech entrepreneurs to follow in their path. But in places like Memphis, where two-thirds of the population is African-American, there are few role models to show young black girls that a successful career in tech is possible. “White guy, Oxford shirt, black slacks,” recalls Audrey Jones. “The IBM uniform. That’s what I thought a smart person looked like, not like me or anybody else that I knew.” Audrey grew up in South Memphis, one of the city’s poor, African-American neighbourhoods. Her mother struggled with drug addiction and died when Audrey was in her teens.

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