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VOL. 128 | NO. 27 | Friday, February 08, 2013

LaunchYourCity Moving to Playhouse on the Square

By Andy Meek

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The LaunchYourCity entrepreneurial platform, which includes elements like Upstart Memphis and the Seed Hatchery startup accelerator, is getting set to relocate out of the EmergeMemphis building Downtown.

As a result of that impending move, Eric Mathews will no longer be the interim executive director of the EmergeMemphis business incubator. Instead, he will remain the co-president of LaunchYourCity and will remain focused on its continued growth and myriad programs in its new location.

“We had a year contract with EmergeMemphis,” Mathews said. “All options had been on the table regarding moving our organizations forward. After some heartfelt deliberation, we felt we needed to double down and focus in on our work because it’s growing so rapidly.

“We felt like if we fumble the ball regarding the opportunities in front of us, it would not only be a detriment to us but to partners like EmergeMemphis. We’re an important client and feeder to Emerge, and we’re poised to grow our capacity 50 percent to 100 percent in the next year.”

LaunchYourCity is preparing to set up shop in Playhouse on the Square.

The EmergeMemphis board, meanwhile, has hired former Pinnacle Airlines CEO Phil Trenary to provide strategic consulting and to help EmergeMemphis as it looks to hire a permanent executive director. In a statement about his role, Trenary said he’s excited to be working with “innovative, bright, young talent, and my operational and strategic experience is something I can bring to help in this effort.”

Over the past year, Mathews said he and others have worked to get Emerge back onto solid footing that it didn’t have before. In that time, the organization has adopted a strategic new vision, improved member amenities, added new member companies and welcomed FedEx Labs to a renewed commitment to the organization.

EmergeMemphis also recently completed upgrades to the building and has plans to host community events on the new rooftop, as well as in the meeting and conference spaces within the facility.

“Simultaneously, while making sure EmergeMemphis was firing on all cylinders, the LaunchYourCity platform has really exploded in a big way,” Mathews said. “We needed to be honest with ourselves and diligent to focus on managing that growth.”

As a result, he said, LaunchYourCity and its related elements will be “graduating” out of Emerge in the next few weeks.

“Really, this is a testament to incubation. It’s a good story for incubation and entrepreneurship,” Mathews said of the impending move. “This has been personal to me. I’ve dedicated a lot of time to it. And it’s been a spectacular year if you look at the past 12 months.”

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