(EDITOR’S NOTE: CO.LAB is moving into new space in Chattanooga’s Innovation District. Ahead of that move, which is reported in this article from Nooga.com, we talked with the organization’s leaders about the recent “GIGTANK” accelerator.)
By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
There’s been very little downtime for the CO.LAB team since the late July “GIGTANK Demo Day.”
When we caught-up with Mike Bradshaw, CO.LAB Executive Director, and Alex Lavidge, “GIGTANK” Director, they were rejoicing in the success of the fourth edition of the accelerator program while also preparing for an upcoming move to the new Chattanooga Innovation Center several blocks away.
This year’s “GIGTANK” was Bradshaw’s fourth time, starting with 2012 when he served as lead mentor for Banyan, the winning team in that inaugural cohort. In the case of Lavidge, this was his first time running the program.
“I think it was a success,” the latter said. “All of the teams did well. All said they were going to keep going.”
The commitment to continuing is a key point of pride for the CO.LAB team. So, too, were the reports of undisclosed investments by several of the 2015 teams.
“That’s what gets me excited,” Lavidge said.
In our numerous conversations with Bradshaw over the years, we have come to understand his unswerving commitment to successfully finding answers to the question: “If you had the world’s fastest Internet, what would you do to leverage it?”
That was a question he says the founders of “GIGTANK” – CO.LAB and the Lamp Post Group – asked in that inaugural year – 2012. As he looks back on the just completed program, Bradshaw says simply, “We got some good answers.”
The “GIGTANK” team also tried a new experiment this year by linking with accelerators in other cities like Knoxville and Huntsville, AL. One of the Knoxville teams was Evolvr which simultaneously participated in both “GIGTANK” and the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s (KEC) “MediaWorks” program.
By being non-residential, as Evolvr was, Tyler Hays and Patrick Teasdale came to Chattanooga for some activities, but also benefitted from the mentoring they received at KEC.
“I think there were multiple benefits from working with the other accelerators,” Lavidge said. “It eased the workload on our side and enhanced the success for the teams. On a larger scale, it was great to see the region continue to collaborate.”
Those who know Lavidge from his days in Knoxville clearly understand his passion for collaboration.
Bradshaw echoed the importance of the dual participation for many of the start-ups.
“They got to access the gig earlier than they would have otherwise,” he said of teams like Evolvr.
So, now it’s on to the move and helping with “Start-up Week Chattanooga.” Such is the life of an entrepreneurial support organization.