published Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Brock: GigTank teams getting ready for pitch day

Charlie Brock

In Tennessee, we currently have six accelerators across the state that are nearing the end of their industry-specific summer cohort programs: GigTank in Chattanooga, Jumpstart Foundry in Nashville, ZeroTo510 and the Start Co. programs in Memphis, autoXLR8R in Spring Hill and MediaWorks in Knoxville.

All of these programs began in May and will end with demo days later this month or in August. GigTank wraps up with demo day on Tuesday, July 29 at Girls Preparatory School. GigTank is the world’s only accelerator with access to a gigabit-speed Internet and focuses on companies in areas of 3D printing/additive manufacturing, healthcare technology and smart grid development.

In the last three years, GigTank has drawn startups from all over the country — and even the world. This year is no different, with teams from across the Southeast, Canada, California, and of course, Tennessee. Several teams are working on 3D printing or additive manufacturing products and cover a wide range of industries — from retail to medical. Other teams are working on technology startups ranging from big data to project collaboration in industries like healthcare, additive manufacturing and smart grid analytics.

Just as GigTank focuses on Chattanooga’s strengths, other summer cohorts are also industry specific based on their region’s strengths. For example, Jumpstart Foundry’s focus on healthcare and technology companies is a perfect fit for Nashville, which is well known as a hub of healthcare and healthcare technology. The concentration of expertise in these areas draws entrepreneurs from across the country and state.

MediaWorks in Knoxville is hosting its first cohort this summer. With Scripps Networks Interactive and other media companies in Knoxville, digital media was a perfect fit for the area. MediaWorks is a highly immersive instructional and mentorship-driven program for startups in areas like digital video, augmented reality, digital signage, digital audio, video games and digital art.

autoXLR8R — located in the heart of the southern automotive industry in Spring Hill – is one of the first automotive-focused accelerators in the country. In its second annual cohort this summer, autoXLR8R is connecting entrepreneurs with automotive technology commercialization experts and investors.

In Memphis this summer, ZeroTo510 is holding its third program for medical device startups. In addition to a traditional accelerator curriculum, ZeroTo510 also helps entrepreneurs with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s 510(k) premarket notification filing. ZeroTo510 was founded in Memphis because the city is home to several medical device companies and investment firms.

Start Co., also in Memphis, is currently running 4 accelerator programs, all of which have a focus on empowerment and inclusion of women and minorities. The Upstart Program connects high-potential women founders with the resources they need, while the Sky High program targets social entrepreneurs. Seed Hatchery – Memphis’ first accelerator – focuses on web/tech startups. SparkGap supports logistics technology startups, an industry strength of Memphis.

One of the most exciting parts of our summer cohort programs is demo day, which is the culminating event of each program. There will be six demo days in Tennessee this summer, from July 29 through August 21. These events give entrepreneurs a chance to pitch their companies to investors and give the community a chance to see what has been developed over the last three months.

In all regions of the state, there are amazing companies being developed right now in Launch Tennessee’s network of accelerators. We’re looking forward to seeing them pitch over the next few weeks.

Charlie Brock is CEO of Launch Tennessee (www.launchtn.org), a public-private partnership focused on supporting the development of high-growth companies in Tennessee with the ultimate goal of making Tennessee the No. 1 place in the Southeast for entrepreneurs to start and grow a company.

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