Bragging Rights


Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Many great innovative ideas that have impacted the world were created, launched and cultivated in Memphis.

  • GROCERY STORES: The first self-service grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, was developed in Memphis in 1916.
  • RELIABLE, STANDARDIZED MOTEL SERVICE: That’s what Kemmons Wilson envisioned when he created the first Holiday Inn in Memphis, the first modern hotel chain. 
  • TIME-SENSITIVE SHIPPING OPTIONS: Since its founding in 1971, FedEx has revolutionized the logistics industry. Among FedEx’s many firsts are:
    • The first company dedicated to overnight package delivery
    • The first express company to introduce the overnight letter
    • The first to offer 10:30 a.m. next-day delivery
    • The first to offer Saturday delivery and the first express company to offer time-definite service for freight
    • The first in the industry with money-back guarantees and free proof of performance, services that now extend to its worldwide network
  • Tri-State Bank was founded in 1946 by Dr. J. E. Walker and his son A. Maceo Walker.
    • Tri-State Bank was and still is the largest African-American run bank in Tennessee.
    • In 2012, Tri-State Bank ranked 14th by Black Enterprise magazine in their “BE 100” list for financial services.
  • Robert Church was the South's first African-American millionaire
  • In 1906, Church founded the Solvent Savings Bank and Trust Company. It was the first black-owned and operated bank in Memphis.
  • Robert Church developed Church Park, Memphis’ only park for African Americans at that time. 
  • In 1923, Dr. J. E. Walker founded Universal Life Insurance in Mississippi
  • Universal Life Insurance relocated to Memphis in 1926. By 1947, Universal Life Insurance became the second African American company in America to “attain million-dollar-capital status.”
  • WalletHub, a financial advice and review website, named Memphis the #7 “Best City to Start a Business” in 2015.
  • CNN Money ranked Memphis 10th on their list of “10 Best Cities to Launch a Startup” in 2014.
  • GlassDoor ranked Memphis 18th out 50 in their ranking of the “Best Cities for Jobs,” based on hiring opportunity, cost of living, and job satisfaction.
  • Memphis ranked 11th on Forbes’ 2011 “Best Cities for Minority Entrepreneurs” list.

Other Memphis-grown inventions and companies include:

  • The hydraulic lift was invented by an Italian immigrant to Memphis and was later adopted by German conglomerate ThyssenKrupp
  • Greyhound and Continental Trailways bus lines ran across North America from humble beginnings in Memphis.
  • Shering Plough, now part of Merck, was known for Coppertone, Afrin, Dr. Shoal’s and many other over-the-counter products.