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September 24th, 2015

September 24th, 2015

Chattanooga is Lowest Cost City for Business Startups
Chattanooga Times Free Press
Chattanooga is the least- cost city in America to start a business, according to a study released Wednesday by the online personal finance website SmartAsset. With relatively cheap office space, utilities and wages — combined with the least expensive gigabit-per-second Internet hookup connections in the country — Chattanooga boasts the lowest overall startup costs for businesses of any U.S. city. The estimated first-year costs of starting and running a business in Chattanooga are about half what it costs in Silicon Valley, where most of the century’s best-known startups have been birthed. “One of the first cities in the country to invest in fiber-optic Internet service, Chattanooga’s ultra-fast Internet has become a major draw for businesses,” Smart- Assset’s Nick Wallace wrote in the report on startup business costs in different cities. “High-speed Internet is great, but for many startups it is far from top priority. A young business can deal with the occasional Internet outage, it can’t weather exorbitant costs. In Gig City, however, it isn’t an either-or.”

Guru Skins Places Third in SEC Pitch Competition
A student team from the University of Tennessee (UT) took third place in an entrepreneurial pitch competition that was part of the 2015 “SEC Symposium” held this week in Atlanta. Yes, SEC stands for the Southeastern Conference and, ironically, the program for this year’s two-day  event that started during “Gator Week” was organized by the University of Florida under the theme of “Creativity, Innovation & Entrepreneurship: Driving a 21st Century Economy.” The UT team was comprised of three MBA students – Jake Rheude, Dustin Giltnane and John Born  – who pitched Guru Skins. They placed third behind two Ph.D. student teams from Texas A & M University (the winner) and the University of Arkansas (second place). Click here to learn more about the pitch event.

Knoxville Named No. 4 for Startups
Knoxville News Sentinel
Knoxville has claimed the No. 4 spot in a ranking by financial technology company SmartAsset of U.S. cities with the lowest business-startup costs. However, Chattanooga, Knoxville’s neighbor to the south, claimed the No. 1 spot on the list of the 10 top cities. New York City based SmartAsset looked at factors such as office space, utilities, filing fees, legal and accounting costs, and payroll in rating cities as startup friendly. SmartAsset cited Knoxville as the home of the University of Tennessee and world headquarters for Regal Entertainment Group, operator of one of the country’s largest movie theater chains.

Memphis Startup Pioneers Social Media Marketing Intelligence
High Ground News
Social marketing tools can analyze a company’s followers and fans but it fails at determining which of those followers are their actual users. That’s why Aaron Fitzgerald, Kelly Schricker and Morgan McCullough, a team of entrepreneurs, data scientists and marketers, set out to develop a marketing automation tool that could provide real-time insights about customers’ social behaviors, along with recommended content sharing actions. As Rhodes alumni, this team was familiar with Memphis and they selected Start Co. to launch their idea because it gave them the opportunity to give something back to the city.

Knoxville Startup Day Pitch Competition Seeking Applicants
The organizers of the Knoxville Startup Day 2015 pitch competition have begun accepting applications for the Nov. 19 event. The competition is an addition to the lineup of activities planned for Startup Day 2015 and is open to six East Tennessee startups. The winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize. Interested startups need to submit their information by Oct. 6. A steering committee comprising representatives of the University of Tennessee Research Foundation, Oak Ridge National Lab, the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, Tech 2020, Launch Tennessee and Pershing Yoakley & Associates will then select the six presenters and notify applicants by Oct. 16.

Jonathan Sexton with Knoxville Entrepreneur Center
Startup Success, for better or for worse, is usually measured by “amount of funds raised.”  I’m not here to contradict that.  “Access to Capital” is critical to the success of a young business, especially one that’s proven it solves a problem and has some traction in the market. (note: and those things come pre-money these days… sorry, kids.)   BUT – I’m going to dig in here and say that capital is only one piece of the puzzle, and it’s not the first piece. I get asked EVERY DAY what “investors” are looking for.  On a large scale, a startup’s ability to land early customers, especially influential customers is very telling of the trajectory of that business.  Who are the key leaders in your industry?  If the answer is Mark Cuban – think again (but hey, if you can get Mark Cuban’s attention somehow because he is your aunt’s cousin’s husband, then I say go for it).  Otherwise, start local/regional- at least that’s what I suggest if you are starting in Knoxville.  Who are the key industry leaders, or professionals that you can get to, and win their affection (and yes, dollars) for your product?

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