By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
One of the key indicators of the vibrancy of a local entrepreneurial ecosystem is the number of serial entrepreneurs who reinvest in their community after a successful exit.
That surely is the case in Chattanooga where the Co-Founders of Access America Transport are attracting attention from entrepreneurs across the globe through a new start-up accelerator they have launched in the Scenic City. It’s the latest in a series of investments they have made to advance Chattanooga.
Ted Alling, Barry Large, and Allan Davis started Access America Transport in 2002. They sold the company in 2014, but have continued to invest in Chattanooga and its start-ups through an organization named The Lamp Post Group.
“Dynamo is a two-headed beast,” according to Rachel Hanson, Lamp Post Group’s Director of Operations who also serves as the accelerator’s Associate Director. There’s the traditional boot camp approach – three months in the case of Dynamo – plus an early stage fund focused on entrepreneurs in the logistics, transportation and supply chain sectors.
If the first cohort is any indicator of interest, Dynamo has met a clear niche.
A total of 10 teams, including four from outside the U.S., are part of the inaugural group going through the three-month program that culminates with its demo day on October 4.
“We’ve shocked ourselves with the level of teams and their expertise,” Hanson says, adding that the Dynamo team started with more than 140 applications. It helps that the accelerator has recruited blue chip partners like GE Ventures, Kenco, and Ryder.
As previously noted in this article in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, two of the teams come from London, another from Dublin, and a fourth from Monterrey, Mexico. The U.S.-based start-ups come from as far away as San Francisco and Cambridge, MA, and as close as Atlanta (two teams) and Chattanooga (one team).
“We have a unique advantage,” Hanson says, citing Chattanooga being a prime location for transportation and logistics companies. “Our goal is to make Chattanooga the place for logistics start-ups.”
Clearly, one of those advantages is people. It starts with the Lamp Post Group’s Co-Founders (Alling, Large and Davis) plus Bradford and Santosh Sankar, Dynamo Program Director who joined the effort last summer when it was being planned. He previously served as an Equity Research Associate at Wells Fargo Securities, Investment Banking Analyst at Citigroup, and Co-Founder and Chief Information Officer of Bullish Bankers.