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November 12, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Alchemist Accelerator bringing logistics-focused start-ups to Memphis

Its new partnership with Epicenter, the city's entrepreneur center, follows an RFP process to recruit a “brand name accelerator.”

Ido Sarig is not a native of Memphis or, for that matter, the U.S. He came to the country in 1999 from his birthplace in Israel.

Today, as Managing Director for the Memphis Hub for the Alchemist Accelerator, Sarig is working with early stage start-ups who are either in Memphis or want to be located in the city because of their logistics-focused business-to-business (B2B) model.

He relocated from Palo Alto, CA to the Bluff City nearly a year ago when Alchemist won a request for proposals issued by Epicenter, the Memphis-based entrepreneur center, for what Sarig described as a “brand name accelerator.” It is the organization’s first U.S. location outside of Silicon Valley, although Alchemist does have a European hub in Munich, Germany.

Alchemist’s model is somewhat different than other accelerator programs with which our readers might be familiar. For starters, it is a six-month effort where 95 percent of the programming for each cohort is virtual. That compares with others where the program runs 13 weeks. As noted above, it is also limited to those in the B2B space, and there are usually three national cohorts a year comprised of 20 to 30 start-ups per class.

Like other accelerators, however, there is an equity-based component and a focus on early stage start-ups.

“Our funding is small at the beginning, more about living expenses,” Sarig says. “The capital comes at the end.”

In the case of recruiting participants for the Memphis Hub, Sarig says the thesis is straightforward: “If you are building a start-up in logistics, you want to be where that is occurring.” As the home of FedEx, Memphis checks that box in spades. In fact, logistics and supply chain are a new focus area for Alchemist, thanks to the relationship with Epicenter.

Applications are now being accepted through December 29 for the next cohort that begins April 4, 2024. Supporters in Memphis have committed to reserving space for and recruiting nine start-ups per year (three per class). Who should apply?

“We seek distinguished founders with significant domain expertise who are graduates of prestigious universities, or both,” Sarig explains, adding that a key focus is on start-ups that are either in Memphis or want to move to the city because of the strong presence of logistics companies.

When the partnership was unveiled, Epicenter announced that it would assist Alchemist in recruiting companies for the Memphis Hub, hosting the participants at its downtown incubation space, and providing access to the Memphis community for local resources, potential customers, and networking.

“This program connects Memphis-based founders directly to high-value, Silicon Valley-based resources, like expertise and potential investment capital, that may have previously been inaccessible to founders in our region,” Jessica Taveau, Epicenter’s President and Chief Executive Officer, said in February 2023. “Our partnership with Alchemist adds capacity in our ecosystem to grow high-tech, high-growth-potential start-ups, which can have an exponentially positive impact on our regional economy.”

Prior to becoming Managing Director, Sarig held a variety of positions including serving as a coach for Chief Executive Officers in the Alchemist program, Chief Marketing Officer for OpsHub Inc., and advisor to a number of companies.

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