VOL. 130 | NO. 11 | Friday, January 16, 2015
Start Co. Teams With Innova Memphis
By Andy Meek
Start Co. has a new partner that’s bringing new funding with them to bolster the venture development organization’s efforts.
As a result of a partnership between Start Co. and Innova Memphis, an early-stage venture capital firm and the investment arm of the Memphis Bioworks Foundation, teams in two of Start Co.’s accelerator programs will have a pool of funds waiting on them when the programs kick off May 4. Those programs are Seed Hatchery and Upstart, and they’ll both be getting $25,000 in investment capital.
Innova and Start Co. are teaming up to invest that capital into high-growth-potential B2B startups. Those startups will be flowing through Seed Hatchery, the first accelerator in Memphis now focusing on B2B technology businesses, and Upstart, one of the first accelerators to focus on women-led tech startups in the U.S.
Including Seed Hatchery and Upstart, Start Co. completed four accelerator programs in 2014. Eighteen teams benefited from the Start Co. accelerators in 2014, getting a combination of early investment capital, mentorship and business and technical assistance. During the year, Start Co. teams also raised more than $3.8 million, adding to a total of more than $11.3 million raised in recent years by Start Co. startup teams.
According to Innova Memphis partner Jan Bouten, to date Innova has invested in more than 30 companies, including 16 teams through the Memphis Bioworks program ZeroTo510, which is a medical device accelerator. Those 16 teams alone have gone on to raise $7.5 million.
“With this partnership,” Bouten said, “we’re seeking new startups in the B2B technology space that have the potential to become economic engines and create new jobs.”
The partnership between Innova and Start Co. also marks what will be a series of collaborations led by EPIcenter, an initiative to boost entrepreneurship in the Memphis area. That effort is a product of one of several co-called “moon mission” strategies conceived by the Greater Memphis Chamber Chairman’s Circle, a group of business leaders who’ve come up with a list of targeted efforts chosen for their potential to bring transformational change to the city.
The Memphis Bioworks Foundation got tapped early in 2014 to lead the EPIcenter, which has a goal of creating 1,000 entrepreneurs and 50 companies in the city over the next decade. Bioworks is leading the EPIcenter in part because of its success as an entrepreneurship venture in Memphis, based on its ability to seed companies and groom startup founders who’ve gone on to thrive.
About the Innova-Start Co. partnership, Bouten said Innova will leverage its expertise in technology and B2B solutions to provide strategic mentorship to participating accelerator teams and help grow their businesses.
Innova’s pattern is to invest in early-stage, high-growth companies that have the potential to grow into significant economic contributors and generate strong returns. Its focus is on companies with strong intellectual property or other competitive advantages in health care, technology and agriculture-biology.
Innova was created by the Memphis Bioworks Foundation to help establish Memphis as a national center of excellence in entrepreneurship.