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May 21, 2013 | Tom Ballard

Energy and enthusiasm permeate this year’s “Gig Tank” cohort

Gig Tank 1From the moment we walked in the front door of Chattanooga’s CO.LAB on Tuesday, the energy and enthusiasm levels were amazingly powerful. In fact, one might say it was intoxicating in a non-alcoholic sense.

We had the opportunity to meet many of the entrepreneurs who are leading the seven companies participating in the second week of the “Gig Tank,” Chattanooga’s internationally known accelerator. We also talked with a few mentors and a number of the “specialists” who are assisting the start-ups in specific areas like marketing and graphic arts.

There was a constant buzz in the room as people arrived and departed. Many of the mentors were already at work, talking with the start-ups to which they were assigned. One of those mentors was David McDonald, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Lift1428, an innovation, design, strategy, marketing, and communications firm devoted to the healthcare industry. He maintains offices in Chattanooga as well as Miami and San Francisco.

What I found so contagious, however, was the enthusiasm for being part of “Gig Tank,” which already has a national and international following in only its second year. If you doubt how far the word has spread about the event, you have to look no further than Parth Suthar, who relocated from India to serve as one of the “specialists” while he seeks funding for his own start-up company.

We learned that two of the “specialists” – Taylor Mergele and Patrick Karagianis – are from Chicago and have mutual friends, but had never met until they arrived in Chattanooga. Karagianis and another “specialist” – she said to use only one name (Niyan) – are students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, but they had never met. Mergele goes to Vanderbilt and another “specialist” – Soyoung Yoon – is a native of South Korea and currently enrolled at Carnegie Mellon.

We talked with two healthcare start-up entrepreneurs – Shayne Woods, President of fwdhealth, and Harrison Tyner, Chief Executive Officer of WeCounsel Solutions, LLC. Both are Chattanoogans who are starting their companies locally. During our conversation with Suthar, we learned that his company, named Sensevery Wireless Ltd, is focused on helping senior citizens maintain their independence through the deployment of a set of sensors in individual homes or assisted living centers.

Since our last visit to CO.LAB, we noticed some redecorating in the main room at CO.LAB. Enoch Ewell told us the new furniture, manufactured by Steelcase, was donated by Smart Furniture.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting additional stories about the entrepreneurs, mentors, staff and activities that contribute to this year’s “Gig Tank.” And, yes, we are already “pumped” at the prospect of attending “Demo Day” on August 6.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The graphic accompanying this article is a picture of this week’s schedule for the “Gig Tank” teams.)

Here are links to other recent articles about the “Gig Tank”: