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Start Co.: Accelerating Women Entrepreneurs

Home to innovative giants such as FedEx and Autozone, Memphis has a history of creativity and entrepreneurship to maintain. At the heart of innovation in our community lie companies such as Start Co. (formerly known as LaunchYourCity, Inc), who are devoted to the development of our startup community with the belief that innovation will fuel the jobs of tomorrow.

Despite the growing momentum of the Memphis startup community, certain populations remain untapped. In particular, women are significantly underrepresented. This gender imbalance is not unique to Memphis. Although women-led private technology companies generate 35% higher returns by investment, and when backed by venture capital earn 12% higher revenues than those led by men, they launch only 3% of high growth tech startups.* Clearly women are capable of producing viable startups, yet they still hesitate to step into the arena.

The Upstart initiative was initially established by Start Co. to encourage women to make their presence known in the startup community. With the introduction of a new women’s startup accelerator program, one of only a handful in the nation, women entrepreneurs have a chance to further plug into and engage with our Memphis startup ecosystem.

Similar to past accelerator programs, four women-led, high growth potential startup companies will receive an initial investment of $15,000 toward the development of their companies. Additionally, they will undergo an intensive 100 day boot-camp in which they are connected with the resources they need to be successful. These resources include everything from mentoring and networking, to business development advice and strategies.

What distinguishes this program from the typical accelerator is that its curriculum is specifically tailored with women in mind. Contributing to the curriculum, Terri Murphy of U.S. Learning provides insight on the best approach to inspire confident and successful women entrepreneurs. Mara Lewis has agreed to act as the program’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence to lend valuable advice on her own experience as a successful serial entrepreneur.

The Upstart Accelerator provides much-needed support for women to enter the startup community. With the increase in diverse perspectives the entrepreneurial ecosystem will grow. Ultimately, the hope is that such initiatives will no longer be necessary in the future. In the meantime, Upstart Memphis will continue to embolden women entrepreneurs, one startup at a time.

*Based on data from Dow Jones and Businessweek, presented in an infographic from Online Business Degree that can be found here on Women 2.0.

-- Hillary Quirk, Community Manager, Start Co.

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The latest news from the Greater Memphis Chamber. For more information, contact Director of Communications Christina Meek at (901) 543-3504 ( or Communications Specialist Jenny C. Fish at (901) 543-3558 (