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VOL. 132 | NO. 160 | Monday, August 14, 2017

Funding Announcements Cap Startup Demo Day

By Andy Meek

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Funding announcements have already started rolling in for some participating startups in this year’s “Summer of Acceleration” following Demo Day. The demo pitch to investors caps annual programming for the consortium of accelerators.

Chicago-based Shurpa, one of the startups participating in the EPIcenter Logistics Innovation Accelerator, picked up a commitment of $250,000 from Innova, a venture capital fund founded by the Memphis Bioworks Foundation.

Shurpa provides customized B2B delivery logistics that uses software to connect a network of neighborhood micro-depots in under-utilized space in existing businesses.

Shurpa CEO Ben Fornell described the company to The Daily News as a software platform for last-mile and same-day delivery, with a particular focus on e-commerce.

“We came in to the accelerator with revenue, with contracts, with clients, but what the Memphis accelerators really allowed us to do is engage with logistical behemoths,” Fornell said. “To engage with FedEx, as a sponsor of the accelerator. To engage with various other logistics firms in Memphis. Memphis is obviously a massive logistics hub. And so the accelerators really allowed us to get a better view of where we could fit into the larger supply chain.”

PathEX, meanwhile, was one of this year’s participating ZeroTo510 startups. It got $225,000 from the National Science Foundation for a STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer) Award.

The company was founded by two Nashville friends through which they’ve created a device that can capture bacteria from blood that allows for the diagnosis and treatment of sepsis. The ZeroTo510 accelerator they went through is funded and operated by Memphis Bioworks and focuses on medical technology innovation that takes advantage of the FDA’s 510k regulatory pathway.

These teams were among 16 startups that pitched the businesses they’ve been honing over the summer to hundreds of Demo Day attendees at week’s end from around the U.S. More than 400 business leaders, including entrepreneurs, mentors and investors, attended this year’s Demo Day, at which each founder had three minutes to pitch their businesses in the hopes of winning follow-on funding.

This is the second year of joint summer accelerator programming – which began on May 1 – being held simultaneously under the banner of the “Summer of Acceleration.” Demo Day concluded that effort, which began with teams participating in six different themed startup accelerators and one student accelerator being led through an entrepreneurial education taught by top experts.

Each team split time between core curricula at Start Co. and industry-specific activities led by their accelerator cohort director and partner organization. Teams also participated in Start-Q during the Memphis in May International Festival’s World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, which brought founders, investors and business leaders from across the country together for networking events, entrepreneurial programming, and pitch competitions.

LESLIE LYNN SMITH

To date, teams from the program have collectively secured more than $40 million in investment.

“Investment in the Summer of Acceleration – a true partnership among our tech entrepreneurship community – has created greater opportunities in customers and capital for these startups, and we’re excited to continue to help them grow after Demo Day,” said Leslie Lynn Smith, EPIcenter president and CEO. “This cross-collaborative and innovative program is creating a positive impact in Memphis, and it is exactly the kind of initiative that we want to continue to foster as the entrepreneurship hub.”

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