published Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Chattanooga draws experts for high-speed Internet projects

Jacob Langley, left, and Andrew Abumoussa, both with the tech company Scenedipity, prepare for a presentation at Gig Tank, a summerlong business startup competition that takes advantage of Chattanooga's gigabit-per-second Internet connection speeds.
Jacob Langley, left, and Andrew Abumoussa, both with the tech company Scenedipity, prepare for a presentation at Gig Tank, a summerlong business startup competition that takes advantage of Chattanooga's gigabit-per-second Internet connection speeds.
Photo by Doug Strickland.
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Andrew Abumoussa thinks he's found a use for all the inane info posted by over-sharers on Twitter and Facebook, and by end of the summer he hopes to get $100,000 for his idea.

At one point or another, most every social media user has read a tweet about their friend's love of their new outfit or their cousin's unkickable case of the sniffles and thought, 'Who cares?'

Abumoussa is banking on clothing manufacturers or health industry workers caring, so he and his partners at Scenedipity Intelligence are creating a way to aggregate and deliver that information.

Abumoussa flew down from New York this past weekend to join seven other teams from across the globe for a 14-week technology company kickstarter competition called GigTank. The eight teams started pouring in Saturday from as far away as Northern Ireland, drawn by the lure of Chattanooga's gigabit-per-second Internet connection speeds -- well over 20 times faster than the speeds of most service providers -- and a $100,000 prize.

The groups each receive $15,000 in seed money in The Company Lab-run competition. By the end of the summer, a panel of industry experts from across the country will select the best of the eight ideas and award the group $100,000.

Sponsors such as the local Lyndhurst and Lamppost groups along with large companies such as IBM, Cisco and Mozilla are sponsoring the summer program with cash, services and mentors ready to guide the projects through development.

"Chattanooga's a nice playground for people to build these tools," Abumoussa said after pitching his idea to potential investors at The Company Lab on Monday. "We're trying to disrupt things."

For the next couple of weeks, teams will meet with 27 different mentors and find the best people to coach them over the next three months. The groups then will work on developing their ideas and developing markets for them.

"There's so many things we still need help on," said Asher Pembroke, whose team is working to improve music distribution. "Having all these things in one spot, we can focus on what we're trying to build instead of finding people to help us build it."

Sheldon Grizzle, founder of The Company Lab, hopes to help craft some high-quality businesses out of the intense development program.

"A lot of people have ideas, but if you test them in a vacuum or you don't test them, then you don't really know if they're valid or not," Grizzle said. "We're testing people's assumptions. We want to encourage them to get out into the world and test those assumptions as quickly as possible."

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