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VOL. 129 | NO. 153 | Thursday, August 07, 2014

New Logistics Venture Lands $250,000 Investment

By Andy Meek

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Start Co.’s “Summer of Acceleration” already has proven a success for at least one startup that’s participated in one of the organization’s accelerators this year.

Graph Story, a graph database-as-a-service offering for small and medium businesses and which is a member of Start Co.’s SparkGap accelerator, is the recipient of a six-figure angel investment award, the first as part of this year’s “Summer of Acceleration” program.

The $250,000 investment was mostly furnished by members of Start Co.’s Angel Network, the first angel network and fund in the region specifically designed to fund high-growth technology startups.

Graph Story’s award is the latest funding event for Start Co. Angels. At the start of the year, three previous Seed Hatchery teams – Seed Hatchery being another Start Co. accelerator program – got funding from both the network and fund itself, a result of how Start Co., since 2011, has rapidly boosted its base of angel investors at the same time it’s tried to increase entrepreneurial talent and access to mentorship in the area.

SparkGap is Start Co.’s new logistics technology-focused accelerator. Among other things, Graph Story founder and CEO Greg Jordan said its curriculum helped him establish a valid business model and strategy for his venture.

“The team and mentor network at Start Co. helped coach me every step of the way, from customer discovery to development to receiving the investment dollars that will help propel my business forward,” he said.

This is an outgrowth of Start Co. deciding recently to leverage the logistics infrastructure and talent in the area to set up a new accelerator built around what Start Co. president Andre Fowlkes said represents the largest industry in the Memphis area. And participation it’s getting from logistics and logistics-related experts has led the organization to think the new accelerator can scale quickly.

MATHEWS

Start Co. CEO and founder Eric Mathews said Jordan took full advantage of the entrepreneurship organization’s resources, curriculum and access to mentors and to an angel network as he builds his business. And it’s proof, Mathews added, that Start Co. is making a difference.

“This is further validation of our acceleration mode, where we cram 12 months of entrepreneurship into three months,” said Mathews, who also said that this year’s “Summer of Acceleration” is a first for the organization in several ways.

For one thing, it’s running four accelerators at once, including the new SparkGap accelerator. Also, interest in the programs continues to be high both in Memphis and beyond, with Mathews saying the split is about 50-50 this year, with half of the teams from Memphis and half from outside.

The investment process involving Start Co. Angels also is improving, becoming more standardized as well as cost-efficient. Jordan, Start Co. says, got a signed term sheet in 75 days and was able to close the funding round 10 days later.

Each team like Jordan’s that’s participating in Start Co. programming this summer will unveil their startup later this month on “Demo Day,” Aug. 21. That will also represent an opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments and network with the entrepreneurial and investor community.

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