Memphis entrepreneurs can launch their dream company during the Summer of Acceleration

Are you ready to launch your new startup in Memphis or lead your emerging company that to its next evolution of excellence?

Summer of Acceleration could be the boost you and your company need.

Now in its fifth year, the SoA is a 100-day, cohort-based, intensive accelerator experience that spurs development of high-tech, high-growth startups.

“The Summer of Acceleration demonstrates that whether you've already launched a company or simply have an idea, Memphis has the resources and network to support the growth of startups and scaleups,” said Leslie Lynn Smith, president and CEO of Epicenter Memphis.

The program is produced in partnership by Start Co. and Epicenter. Its goal is to connect emerging companies with the customers, capital, and talent needed to grow sustainably.

The hope is that with proper supports, these entrepreneurs will grow to become small- to large-scale employers within the Mid-South's workforce ecosystem.

“Entrepreneurship is a critical and equitable part of our region's economic development strategy—after all, startups and small businesses are the nation’s job-creators,” said Smith.

Up to 10 entrepreneurs will be selected for the 2020 SoA cohort.

The deadline to apply is March 23. More information can be found here

Each week, those entrepreneurs will receive two days of general business education and two days of industry-specific education.

They will spend an additional day interacting with customers and potential customers in an effort to develop or refine their business models with direct user research.

SoA culminates in Memphis Demo Day. It's the startups’ opportunity to pitch their innovative ideas to investors, share their insights with the greater entrepreneurial community, and network with leaders across the Mid-South and across industries. 

Ideal applicants have talented founders with a passion for solving big problems within key regional industries such as medical device design and manufacturing, supply chain management, logistics, and smart city. Smart city is technology that helps physical devices such as cars and phones connect and exchange data.

During the 2019 Summer of Acceleration, the cohort of entrepreneurs learned about each other by sharing stories. Each person pictured is a founder of a startup and participated in the 2019 SoA. (Submitted)

Tailored Accelerators

There are three different accelerator opportunities included in SoA. 

“Our accelerators are designed to give companies the best possible opportunity to grow here in Memphis, while also creating an environment where creative collisions can happen all around the city,” said Ryan Ramkhelawan, director of acceleration for Start Co.

The Sparkgap Logistics accelerator centers logistics startups who are creating products related to intelligent packaging, supply chain visibility, medical device tracking, and data analytics.

Sky High focuses on smart city and related technology-based startups. Its goal is to solve problems and improve efficiency in construction, space management, safety, and more. 

ZeroTo510 is aimed at attracting new and emerging companies within the medical device field.

“[In] the past two years, nine companies went through SoA, and almost half of them are still [in] or relocated to Memphis,” said Ramkhelawan. “Also, 37% of the companies have achieved meaningful revenue. One company was acquired and millions of additional capital [was] raised."

Partners in Support

SoA's two primary partners are Start Co.—a Memphis-based venture-development organization located Downtown—and Epicenter Memphis, an entrepreneurial hub based in Cooper Young.

Start Co. will run logistics for SoA, deliver general education components for all three accelerators, and provide industry-specific training for the Sky High and Sparkgap accelerators.

Epicenter Memphis will provide cohort funding through its network of partners and deliver the industry-specific training for the ZeroTo510 accelerator. In addition, Epicenter will provide seed investments for the entrepreneurs through its Formation Fund.

“As a nonprofit hub organization, our primary objectives at Epicenter are to create a community of innovation and entrepreneurship, to grow a just and inclusive economy that benefits all Memphians, and measure and celebrate the impact of the work,” said Smith.

“Memphis will benefit from having new companies exploring opportunities within the city,” said Ramkhelawan.

Read more articles by Chris Jones.

Chris Jones is an attorney, community and non-profit strategist, and freelance writer.  Originally from Starkville, Mississippi, Chris has lived in Memphis for over 25 years.  In his spare time, he loves traveling, learning about history and society, and playing the guitar.