Tag Archives: entrepreneurial landscape

Entrepreneurial Landscape in Memphis

by Cheryl Hayes

The entrepreneurial scene in Memphis is very bright for anyone seeking to start a business, especially for entrepreneurs in the bioscience, logistics, andmedical device fields. The market in Memphis is open to the “next big thing”. According this article, “between 2009 and early 2014, the city’s top business accelerators have helped 181 startups that created 532 jobs and attracted $50 million from investors.”

Memphis offers many outlets to assist with startup ideas. One of the most influential is Start Co. Start Co. provides programs such as 48-hour launch events, hackathons,  Start Co. Lounge happy hours, social innovators workshops, startup weekends and other resources to help entrepreneurs with their  ideas, including launching, empowering, mentoring and investing.

An accelerator program operated and supported by Start Co., Seed Hatchery is a nonprofit startup assistance program that focuses on web and tech startups by offering a 90-day mentoring program. It has launched 18 companies since its inaugural cohort in 2011. Through this accelerator program, entrepreneurs are able to apply for a chance to be selected for startup funding.  Additional startup accelerator programs to assist entrepreneurs in Memphis are UpStart Memphis, a nonprofit program geared towards women entrepreneurs; Sky High, which focuses on logistics technology startups; SparkGap, which offers startups assistance in social enterprise; ZeroTo510, which assists in the area of medical device research and manufacturing.

Innovation and entrepreneurship assistance for faculty and students can be found at The University of Memphis Crews Center for Entrepreneurship.

Others of interest to startups are Innova,  a pre-seed, seed and early-stage investor; Liquid Capital, offering innovative financial solutions for businesses seeking cash and capital; Angel Capital, which brings investors and entrepreneurs together; and Emerge Memphis, which provides strategic support to startup companies, innovators and entrepreneurs in the Mid-South.

The City of Memphis offers Memphians a one-stop-shop resource called the Renaissance Business Center. It lists several central points for those interested in seeking financial resources from public and private entities.

The Small Business Administration provides government funding assistance.. Score Memphis its nonprofit resource partner, and it provides free counseling and low-cost workshops.

An array of startups were founded in Memphis. A few include:

MentorMe Inc. -a nonprofit startup founded by Brittany Fitzpatrick that is revolutionizing the way communities invest in people with SaaS platform for mentoring.

Screwpulp – an ebook marketplace that gives authors a better way to reach an audience.

Global Innovations Now, Inc. – this startup enables business owners by providing customer mobile app solutions.

Keep It 200 – a social network connecting communities around important issues in the world.

Paytopia  – an alternative payment system that offers customers a safe way to pay online.

More Memphis startups can be found here.

The entrepreneurial landscape for Memphis is booming and wide-open for new entrants. The help entrepreneurs need is available in Memphis.

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Entrepreneurial Landscape in the Twin Cities

By Andrew Doughty

The Twin Cities present a seemingly unlimited landscape for entrepreneurs, largely a result of numerous universities in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, an unbelievably ethnically diverse population and a plethora of Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the metro. Options for first-time entrepreneurs to successful business professionals are considerable, with rallies, luncheons, open forums and clubs combining to form a very supportive environment for anyone and everyone.

Bootstrappers Breakfasts is an opportunity for technology entrepreneurs looking to take the next big step in growing their business. The group, founded in 2010, meets once per month for breakfast in order to share ideas and compare operational, development and business issues with other local entrepreneurs. While the meetings are not free ($50 annual fee), this is a reliable, organized and committed group of experienced and diverse professionals that could make the $50 investment irrelevant very quickly.

For those without a company but with a great idea for one, contests are routinely started in or brought to the Twin Cities, including AOL co-founder Steve Case’s “Rise of the Rest” pitch tour this year. Entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to pitch an idea to Case, who has pledged a $100,000 investment to the best idea. He is partnering with Google and three other forward-thinking companies to promote and plan the tour’s stops across the country.

And lastly, for the young minds without experience who are simply exploring options for long-term innovation, they can enroll in one of the numerous university degree programs that support entrepreneurship. Richard Schulze, founder of Best Buy, invested millions of dollars into the University of Saint Thomas Schulze School of Entrepreneurship. If the small, private setting does not appeal to you, consider the unique Inter-College program at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. The flexible program allows students to create their own degree from hundreds of options and thousands of courses, with a heavy emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship. Macalester College, College of Saint Catherine’s and Concordia College are just three of the other metro schools also promoting entrepreneurial growth.

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Entrepreneurial Landscape in Athens, Georgia

By Nicholas Beshiri

A small college town an hour outside of Atlanta, Georgia, Athens has a great entrepreneurial landscape. Having the University of Georgia present brings people from all walks of life with new ideas and plans to start their own businesses.

Researching UGA, I found that they do a great deal to help the landscape, the main contributor being the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Club. This club is run through the Terry School of Business and offers great opportunities throughout the year. The club offers monthly “Lunch and Learns,” which give students the opportunity to collaborate with one another and hear successful entrepreneurs from around the state speak. They also participate in Venture Atlanta, which is the largest event for entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in the state, as well as the Silicon Valley Trek each spring, which gives students the opportunity to meet experienced venture capitalists and entrepreneurs and tour large companies in the valley such as Google.

Athens also has its own local tech incubator, Four Athens. Their mission statement reads, “Four Athens was formed to discover startups, build community, connect creativity, accelerate growth and invest in success.” Four Athens is very well respected throughout the community and has helped many local businesses with branding problems like Hackyard, a  computer hardware startup, and Partner Software, a software and app developer. Four Athens has also partnered with organizations like Next Top Entrepreneur and Athensmade, in order to seek out upcoming entrepreneurs and help their ideas come to life.

Overall I believe that Athens, Georgia has a very strong entrepreneurial landscape that will continue to grow in the future.

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Entrepreneurial Landscape in West Memphis, Arkansas

By Shelby Jo Fenter

I recently finished my undergraduate degree at The University of Mississippi and returned to my hometown of West Memphis, AR, in May of 2014.  I immediately began working for my brothers company, Fenter Physical Therapy, doing marketing and public relations.

Through this experience, I have attended many events within the community and been exposed to our “entrepreneurial scene.”  Our local Chamber of Commerce recently had a workshop, “Saving Your Small Town: Homegrown Community and Economic Development.”  This event brought in speakers to discuss entrepreneurship in our area. The first thing I noticed about our entrepreneurial scene is that our people are very eager. There were about 50 people at the workshop, anxious to engage and learn about ideas for our community.

A focal point of the workshop was youth entrepreneurship.  They strongly encouraged older, wiser business people to find a youth and mentor them through their entrepreneurial experience. Funding opportunities for young kids excites them.The kids begin to make a little money and then they progress to get their friends involved. Our local community college, Mid-South Community College, has had several speakers on this topic.  They are continually finding ways to get young kids involved in business opportunities.  The have also developed a very popular BOSS club, Business Opportunities for Student Success.  Youth entrepreneurship is on the rise in our area.

Each week our Chamber also partners with a different business within our community to host Business After Hours.   This is a more relaxed environment for business owners.The majority of business owners routinely come to events such as these to network and support one another. I am very impressed with our local Chamber of Commerce.

Another example of progressive entrepreneurship within our area is our local arts council’s “Carnival” production.  Each summee, Delta Arts broadcasts a televised auction. Businesses sponsor a board and auction off local services and products. The local Junior Auxiliary volunteers their time to answer phone calls and bids. I have participated in this event for the past five years. It is an awesome model of our community, encouraging our citizens to shop local.

One issue that I have realized is that being so close to Memphis is a blessing and a curse. The goal of developing a product or service on this side of the bridge is very present. However, we have to find more ways to encourage people to spend a little more money using local services rather than taking their business to bigger, maybe cheaper companies in Memphis.

Essentially, I believe that our community is heading in the right direction with our entrepreneurial scene.  It is very active and present and continually looking for ways to improve.

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Assignment: Survey Your Entrepreneurial Landscape

For next week, do a little research on the entrepreneurial “scene” in your community. You can search the web, make some phone calls, and/or see what kinds of info your local library might have. What kinds of resources are available in your community to support entrepreneurship? Is the entrepreneurial community in your town known for anything in particular? Do they regularly host events, offer opportunities to pitch investors, etc? Any examples of especially successful startups? Write up a brief blog post about what you learned to share with the class.

You can email these to me and I will post them on the blog as their own posts. Makes it easier to read. 

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