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June 17th, 2014

June 17th, 2014

Tennessee Innovation in the News

Firmology: The South and Silicon Valley: 4 Tips For Bigger, Better Entrepreneurship
In Nashville last week, LaunchTN gathered entrepreneurs from 10 states and over 70 investment firms for a shindig known as SouthlandSE. The “investor-conference-cum-Southern-festival” goes on alongside Bonaroo. It is gaining steam as the “SXSW” of the South.  This year, CEOs from Silicon Valley companies, such as Box, Bonobos, PayPal, and Pando, shared the stage with top startups from Atlanta, Chattanooga, Memphis, and even Mexico.  1. You don’t need to be in Silicon Valley to get serious funding.  Miles Clements, Partner at Accel Ventures out of Palo Alto, said out of Accel’s last 40 investments, 36 were outside of northern California.  “We are investing in global great ideas—not in Silicon Valley.” His tip to entrepreneurs outside the Valley seeking funding is, “distribution is how a company outside of the valley can differentiate itself.”
Gigtank, a business accelerator that has turned its third incoming class over to helping companies working with 3D printing, isn’t based in Silicon Valley, New York, or any other technology hot bead. It’s based in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  It’s surprising that an accelerator in Chattanooga would be the first to play host to such an idea. But Mike Bradshaw, Gigtank’s Director, puts it in simple context: its existence is a simple combination of two local factors. Chattanooga’s history as one of America’s manufacturing strongholds dates back as far as the American Civil War. But by the 1980s, it was in the grip of mass layoffs and a crumbling economy.Take that manufacturing history, Bradshaw says, and factor in that Chattanooga is the first city in America to have a municipally owned fiber optic broadband network – Forget Google, theirs was completed in September 2010 and offers residents access to Internet speeds that can run as fast as a gigabit-per-second, 100 times above the national average – and Gigtank is the result.

Teknovation.Biz: Seven autoXLR8R teams in Oak Ridge and Knoxville this week
To paraphrase a frequently used statement, “They are in the region.”  The “they” in this instance refers to the seven teams that comprise the 2014 autoXLR8R, the technology accelerator run by the Southern Middle Tennessee Entrepreneur Centers.  Six of the seven have strong ties to East Tennessee, and all of the teams gathered at Tech 20/20 in Oak Ridge yesterday to begin a week of programming, visiting, and other interactions in the region.  “We needed to bring the researchers, interns and technologies together,” Jack Sisk, Program Manager, said of the plans for the week. The teams will spend this morning (Tuesday) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), one of the key sources of technologies that many of them are pursuing. Their visit includes tours of ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility and Carbon Fiber Technology Facility.


National Innovation in the News

Southern Alpha:  Four Places to Find Smart Money Investors Who Deliver Traction
As an entrepreneur raising money in the South, you have likely heard investors talk about traction, momentum and market validation – in fact many entrepreneurs in the South complain about the low risk tolerance of Southern investors. The problem for these entrepreneurs is that they require an investment in order to get the market traction they need to get the investment – a Catch-22 somewhat unique to regions outside of the capital centers.  But what if you found an investor who could get that traction for you? Would they care as much that you need more validation if they are in fact the ones who can help you get it? Perhaps their investment criteria would be a little more lenient. But where do you find this “Smart Money?”  Here are four places you can look to find investors who can help you get the traction (and money) you need to succeed, all while improving their chances for a good return on their investment.
Nibletz: 10 Thoughts Every Startup Founder Secretly Has at Least Once
One of our earliest team members, who left to start his own company, sent us an email recently. I’ll paraphrase here, but the gist of it was that despite his being one of the first people to join the team at Ampush, nothing could have prepared him for starting his own company from the ground up.  I’m not surprised. Startup founders are often portrayed as “living the dream”: Young, bright, usually C-level executives of their companies, working on “cool stuff;” running “The Show.” It must seem like an incredibly attractive career option. You don’t have to work up the corporate ladder at BigCo, or even be employed by the startup itself. But reality looks a little different. While there are great articles that give advice for working at a startup and that outline the startup social contract, very few give an open and honest view of what it’s actually like to be a founder/startup executive.

Venture Beat: IBM wants to give NYC startups a chance to to use its brainiest AI, Watson
If you’re running a tech startup in New York City, Watson wants to meet you — Watson, IBM’s legendary supercomputer, that is.  To help shake its persistent image as a stodgy producer of enterprise tech, IBM has launched a concerted effort to introduce Watson to the myriad startups in the New York City technology scene. The Watson Group is using Ted Angelus and his team at Bluewater Labs as pathfinders into NYC’s bustling technology hive. Angelus prides himself on his underground tech cachet, so receiving a call from IBM requesting he be a guide for Big Blue into the Big Apple was a shocker.

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