Local Startup Chosen for Launch TN Conference

By Andy Meek

Memphis’ startup community will have a presence next month at Southland, Launch Tennessee’s new conference highlighting Southern culture and technology to be held in Nashville.


Kufikia, a subsidiary of Memphis-based startup venture Work for Pie, is one of 50 companies that will participate in the June 12-13 event. And the benefits are many, some of which carry the prospect of big rewards.

Kufikia and others will vie for a $10,000 prize and the opportunity to be recognized as “Southland’s Most Innovative Startup.” Companies attending the event also will get to network with top venture capitalists and angel investors from Silicon Valley, the East Coast and the South.

“We’re attending Southland because it’s an amazing opportunity to show Kufikia to influencers and investors from Nashville and far beyond,” said Kufikia CEO Cliff McKinney. “They’ve managed to bring in amazing speakers, investors and startup people from all over, and we’ll be one of only 50 companies that get to take advantage. Compare that to larger conferences like TechCrunch Disrupt, where your company is one of maybe 500 vying for attention. It’s an amazing opportunity.”

Southland not only represents an opportunity for McKinney and his team to meet people and potential investors they might not otherwise have had a chance to meet, but it’s also a kind of validation, in that Kufikia was one of the first companies chosen to attend the event.

“Our goal for Southland is to introduce investors, tech media and tech companies from across the country to the Southeast’s outstanding early-stage companies.”

–Launch Tennessee CEO Charlie Brock

The first 20 companies for the event were chosen from applications across 12 states. A committee of investment professionals and entrepreneurs from the South as well as from Silicon Valley helped make the selections.

The first 20 companies had been chosen at press time, and they included ventures from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Those companies have developed new technologies and products in the enterprise, consumer and health care markets.

Southland falls amid a busy period in June for Nashville, around the same time as the CMA Music Festival and Bonnaroo in nearby Manchester, so many conference participants are likely to check out one or more of those other events.

“Our main goal for Southland is to introduce investors, tech media and tech companies from across the country to the Southeast’s most outstanding early-stage companies,” said Launch Tennessee CEO Charlie Brock. “We believe that Southland holds the potential to be the Southeast’s premier event on technology, innovation and investment.

“We’ve had a tremendous response across all 12 Southeastern states. Tennessee has led in the number of applications submitted, which was expected given the proximity to the conference location. We believe Southland will prove to be a unique platform for all who attend – but we’re especially eager to offer this opportunity to the 50 selected companies.”

Launch Tennessee is a public-private partnership focused on supporting the development of high-growth companies in the state of Tennessee with the ultimate goal of fostering job creation and economic growth.

According to a recent report from Launch Tennessee, startup companies raised more than $210 million of venture capital in 2012. Also last year, 126 companies collectively completed training and mentorship programs at the state’s nine regional business accelerators.