First day of “Startup Week Chattanooga” in the books, three winners named in “Will This Float? Black Founders Edition”

Day #1 of this year’s “Startup Week Chattanooga” is in the books with nearly 20 events offered on Monday. We joined a couple of them virtually.

During the lunch hour, the latest edition of CO.LAB’s “Will This Float? Black Founders Edition” spotlighted seven businesses – four in the very early stage with revenues under $25,000 and three more established with revenues exceeding $25,000. Three winners were named, two selected by a panel of judges and the other by attendees.

Judges were Allexis Willis, Director of Small Business and Entrepreneurship at the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce; Jonathan Bragdon, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Capacity Capital; and Justin Dawkins, Managing Partner at Collab Capital.

Winners, as determined by the judges, were:

Launch Stage – Chante’ Knox of DelivHer Femcare that has secured both a utility and design patent for a disposable cup used by women during their menstrual cycles.

Up and Running Stage – Cassandra Tucker of Divine Purity that produces natural self-care products that aid the user in their emotional and physical well-being.

Winner of the “People’s Choice” award was Jonathan Hardaway of Saf Delivery Box, a device described as protecting packages from “porch pirates and inclement weather.”

Forty businesses applied for the competition. In addition to the winners, the other presenters were:

  • Keelah Jackson-Harris of Keeody Gallery, launched in October 2019. She described it as a place “where art, love and soul reside” and the only “Black-owned and curated art gallery in Chattanooga.”
  • Ty Turner of Turner ATM that is focused on helping small business owners “access passive income.”
  • Brandon Ellis of Chatter Box Café, a BBQ business that includes a restaurant, food truck and catering and has moved into packaged foods.
  • Amber Woodruff of Little Giggles, a drop-in daycare center that also provides other services and products.

Earlier in the day, we dropped-in on a session titled “Innovation District 101: Let’s Talk Resources.” Moderated by Kevin Love, Director of Innovation District Programs for The Enterprise Center, it featured a three-person panel representing diverse components of the Chattanooga ecosystem. Panelists were Sarah Mattson, Small Business Specialist with the Tennessee Small Business Development Center; Stratton Tingle, Executive Director of SoundCorps; and Kirk Burton, Programs Director at CO.LAB.

Mattson stressed the importance of “spreading the word” about the resources available in the community. “We can cross-promote each other . . . collaborate, not crossover” into another organization’s area of responsibility, she advised.

In his comments, Burton struck a complementary tone, emphasizing the need to increase awareness of resources to expand the pipeline of and for small businesses. “It’s about making all of those resources available to anyone,” he said.

Tingle talked about creatives, noting that “there’s never been a greater need” for photographers and videographers due to COVID-19 and its impact on helping musicians in particular to promote themselves and their work.

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