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Introducing the Summer of Acceleration

This summer, more than 50 startup founders and students are growing their companies in Memphis through a joint partnership of business accelerators. Each week until Memphis Demo Day on August 11, we’ll introduce you to these companies and the innovative products and technologies they’re launching right here in Memphis!
For the first time, EPIcenter, Start Co. and ZeroTo510 have formed a partnership of six industry-specific startup accelerators and one student accelerator that are hosting 18 technology-based teams from around the world and 12 students from seven universities in Memphis. The joint accelerator program is operated by EPIcenter, a Greater Memphis Chamber's Chairman’s Circle initiative and hub of the greater Memphis entrepreneurship movement, and Start Co., a member of the Global Accelerator Network. The 100-day-long “Summer of Acceleration” will culminate in the region’s largest Demo Day on Aug. 11 at the Halloran Center in Downtown Memphis.
Teams that are participating in the seven accelerators are collectively experiencing the rigorous entrepreneurial startup programming curriculum, have access to potential customers, mentors, and industry partners, and are able to network with investment capital groups. All teams are also spending time focused on industry- and sector-specific curriculum activities in each individual accelerator cohort.
The seven partner accelerator programs are:

  • EPIcenter Logistics Innovation Accelerator was created to help startups bring innovative logistics products and technologies to market and is sponsored by FedEx.
  • ImagineU is a first-of-its-kind collaboration of seven Memphis colleges and universities to provide a true startup acceleration experience to help their student teams bring business ideas to fruition. ImagineU is developed and sponsored by Christian Brothers University, Southwest Tennessee Community College, LeMoyne-Owen College, University of Memphis, Visible Music College, Memphis College of Art, Rhodes College and community partner The College Initiative, and it is housed at the University of Memphis Crews Center for Entrepreneurship.
  • Seed Hatchery was Memphis’ first accelerator and focuses on software and hardware as a service for enterprise customers. Seed Hatchery is one of 50 full members of the Global Accelerator Network.
  • Sky High is a social impact program to build innovative business models to address challenges in the Memphis metro area.
  • Start MMT was founded in conjunction with Hall of Fame Songwriter David Porter and is one of the first music industry innovation accelerators to operate in the world. They will be holding their inaugural cohort this year.
  • Upstart is one of the top ten women-led technology startup accelerators in the world and one of 50 full members of the Global Accelerator Network.
  • ZeroTo510, founded by and housed at Memphis Bioworks Foundation, has been named one of the top 25 accelerator programs in the country by the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project for two years running. ZeroTo510 focuses on medical technology innovation that takes advantage of the FDA’s 510k regulatory pathway. 
EPIcenter is the convening agent of the collaboration, and, for the first time, all seven accelerators are supported by Start Co.’s core accelerator programming. This core accelerator programming is taking place among all accelerators at Start Co., and each partnering accelerator operator is handling the industry-specific programming. Logistics expertise is coordinated and provided by EPIcenter for its innovation accelerator. Start Co. is providing B2B IT and social innovation expertise, as well as customized support for female founders, for its Seed Hatchery, Sky High, and Upstart accelerator cohorts.  The Consortium MMT is providing music-industry specific programming for the Start MMT program.  Memphis Bioworks is providing medical device expertise for the ZeroTo510 cohort. While ImagineU does not have a specific sector focus, students are being matched with subject matter experts and mentors based on the focus of their business.
Both Start Co. and EPIcenter have the experience and expertise to deliver world-class startup support. EPIcenter, led by Leslie Smith, formerly CEO of TechTown in Detroit, Mich., is supporting the rapid increase of local entrepreneurial activity and serves a common voice for change in the Memphis community.  Start Co. is one of the most experienced venture development organizations in the Southeast, having operated 11 accelerator cohorts and co-built another four accelerator programs within the last five years.
Investment partners include Innova, a Memphis-based venture capital fund that is leading the co-investment into the accelerator teams participating in ZeroTo510, Seed Hatchery, Upstart, and EPIcenter Logistics, as well as MB Venture Partners, The JumpFund, and Wolf River Angels. Program partners include Launch Tennessee, the Chairman’s Circle of the Greater Memphis Chamber, Memphis Bioworks, Baker Donelson, American Airlines, IBM, Amazon, Paypal, Archer Malmo, Mosaik Solutions, The Marston Group, Waller, and many more.

How can you help these businesses grow in Memphis this summer? Attend an event, be a mentor or advisor, provide resources, become a customer, make a connection, or invest in a company! Let them know at!

Next week: meet the companies in the ZeroTo510 Medical Device Accelerator!

Posted: 6/22/2016 11:29:56 AM | with 0 comments
Filed under: Acceleration, Chairman's, Circle, Entrepreneurship, EPIcenter, of, Start, Summer, Ups

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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 (