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A City of Risk-Takers

Photo by Brandon Dill 
Shawn Flynn, vice president and co-founder, Restore Medical Solutions at the Zeroto510 Investor’s Day. 

Memphis has a history of being a city of risk-takers.  Lots of cities have great businesses or huge tech centers looking to be the next big fish in a sea of a thousand other fish like it.  Memphis is different.  Our ideas help people, make things better and change the way things are done, but not by looking at what came before us. By doing it our way. 

In our history we have examples like FedEx, Holiday Inn and Piggly Wiggly, just to name a few.  Now, we have an emerging medical and bioscience center.

Several organizations and startups are taking advantage of Memphis’ assets.

Others are taking notice too.  Entrepreneurship magazine named Memphis a Top Ten city to start and grow a business.  Memphis also ranked 11th on Forbes’ “2011 Best Cities for Minority Entrepreneurs List.”

This summer, Memphis entrepreneurs were busy.   Here’s a small sample of what Memphis had to offer for startups this summer and one upcoming event you should put down on your calendar.

The Minority Business Development Agency Conference was held in Memphis in July.  The MBDA invested $1 million dollars in the new Memphis office that same month, officially launching the new center here in Memphis.

A new incubator program kicked off in July as well.  The Zeroto510 program is a medical device accelerator that allows entrepreneurs with ideas in the medical device industry to take the fast lane towards FDA approval for their products.  

The program, created by partners Memphis Bioworks Foundation and Innova, launched its Investor’s Day with six chosen companies that participated in the first phase of the entrepreneurship boot camp.  AutoZone founder, Joseph R. “Pitt” Hyde III kicked off the event by saying that Memphis’s world-renowned medical community is a fertile foundation for new generations of thinkers (Commercial Appeal).

They must be doing something right.  One of the startups, Restore Medical, kicked off the Demo Day with a $3.75 million purchase order.  

Editor's Note: It was just announced on August 31st that out of the six Zeroto510 companies, five were chosen to receive additional funding to continue to the next phase of their product's development.  Read the full press release

Another event that took place this summer was the Launch Memphis 2012 Kick-Off.  Along with announcing some upcoming important events for the fall, Launch Memphis took the opportunity to welcome newcomer to Memphis.   Co-Founder, Kyle Sandler explains why they decided to move their headquarters to Memphis in this video:

An exciting conference for entrepreneurs is the upcoming Memphis Bioworks SBA Fast Conference September 19-20th.  Keynote speakers include Bill Evans, the Director and CEO of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Cassius Butts, the Regional Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration.  This conference will focus on topics and resources that will allow bioscience businesses to grow. 

All these exciting events are just a sample of what Memphis has to offer entrepreneurs.  The Chamber offers entrepreneurs some help as well.  Between our Small Business Council and our Existing Business Team, we offer ways to help small businesses network, connect, free educational seminars and resources for growth.  Let us know in the comments if you attended one of these events and what you thought about them.  

--Christina Meek

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Your business may be small, but that doesn't mean that your impact can't be huge! The Greater Memphis Chamber's Small Business Council serves to encourage, support, recognize and be a resource to small- and medium-sized businesses in the Memphis area. Here, our talented panel of contributors will present big ideas that could make a huge difference to your small business. And don't be afraid to ask questions ... no matter how small.

Sales & Small Business Ownership
Voss W. Graham is CEO and Senior Business Advisor for InnerActive Consulting Group Inc. He is known by his clients as "a knowledgeable partner who helps our team achieve business growth." He provides practical experience as a small business owner for over 29 years, yet is often engaged with Fortune 500 companies in the development of their people and business strategies.

Public Relations
Several professionals and strategists from the local Obsidian Public Relations firm provide excellent advice on everything from research to media relations to event planning. They believe that all companies, no matter how big or small the company or its budget, should have a public relations plan driving how they manage their relationships with key stakeholders. Public relations is an integral part of doing business the right way.

Human Resources
Joel Myers is a career Human Resources professional, with over 40 years in the field including 26 years in consulting.

Small Business Advice
Tom Pease is a small business owner of an office equipment dealership called e/Doc Systems, Inc. He has also owned a full-line Kawasaki dealership as well as a document shop. He used 30+ years of experience in owning a business to author two books, including: Going Out of Business by Design: Why 70% of Small Businesses Fail and Small Business Survival 101. He also has published 85 columns in The Memphis Daily News as the Small Business Advisor.

Marketing & Public Relations
Lori Turner-Wilson is CEO and Founder of RedRover Company, a sales development, marketing and PR consulting firm. Lori works with companies large and small, from start-ups to mature organizations, to help them improve the productivity of their sales force and the return on their marketing investment. Lori writes a weekly syndicated column for the Daily News, Memphis News, Nashville Ledger, and Desoto Times, among others, titled “Guerrilla Sales & Marketing,” for which she won a 2011 Summit International Award and 2012 International Communicator Award.

Design and Digital Strategy
Founded in 1999, inferno provides brand development, advertising, public relations, design and digital marketing services to clients across a broad spectrum of industries. Headquartered in Memphis with a satellite office in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the award-winning firm produces results-driven work by passionately combining strategic thinking, creativity and culture to ensure the success of its clients. For more information, visit

Labor & Employment Law
Fisher Phillips attorneys are ready to help you take a stand: in court, with employees and unions, or with competitors. Fisher Phillips has the experience and resolve to back you up. That's why some of the savviest employers come to the firm to handle their toughest labor and employment cases. The firm has 350 attorneys in 32 offices, including Memphis. For more information, visit

Since its founding in 2005, Paragon Bank has maintained a solid focus on the community and customer service. For more than 10 years, Paragon has delivered innovative products and financial expertise, convenience, and a deep understanding of what both businesses and individuals need from a ban, in order to provide solutions that make a difference. In the areas of business or personal banking, lending options or wealth management, Paragon delivers cutting edge technology, an experienced team and the most service-oriented staff of any community bank.

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