“Gig City Elixir” brings 2018 “Startup Week Chattanooga” to a close

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Elixir, the programming language, is not a word at the top of mind of most individuals, but it was obviously of great interest to about 150 people who showed-up on the first day of the inaugural “Gig City Elixir” Friday morning in Chattanooga.

Planned by an all-volunteer group led by Bruce Tate (see our previous article), the two-day event was the finale of the annual “Startup Week Chattanooga” that featured nearly 120 events on various topics.

As leader of the planning team, Tate is extremely passionate about Elixir. He wanted programmers to “know the techniques of functional programming against the backdrop of Elixir.” Tate also wanted to showcase Chattanooga and bring more ethnic and gender diversity to a profession dominated by men.

We were in town for another reason Friday and dropped-in for about an hour of the opening session that featured John Hughes from Gothenburg, Sweden. He’s a Professor of Computing Science at the Chalmers University of Technology and a world-recognized expert on programming languages.

Hughes’ presentation, laced with a good deal of humor, was warmly received by the attendees. As a non-programmer, we could not appreciate the knowledge he shared about the evolution of functional programming, but we could see how his presence helped underscore the position Chattanooga now enjoys as an information technology hotspot.

“We wanted to do something different,” Tate told the attendees just before Hughes spoke. “I’ve never run a conference before. I used 20 years of IOUs to bring these people (speakers) to Chattanooga.”

By all accounts, this year’s “Startup Week Chattanooga” was a tremendous success. Here are some additional highlights not previously reported in

  • The 2018 recipient of the city’s “Start-up of the Year” award is Felicia Jackson, Founder of CPR Wrap, a company we spotlighted in this early 2017 biz article when it was known by a longer name.
  • LAB made two significant announcements. The first one was the opening of a local office of Kiva, the crowdfunding enterprise founded in 2005 with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. The entity that was started in San Francisco participated in this year’s “Will It Float?” competition. According to a report in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the City of Chattanooga has budgeted $43,000 to fund a position at CO.LAB to help those seeking funding through the Kiva platform review, refine, and promote their ideas. Also supporting the initiative are four local foundations – Benwood, Community Foundation, Footprint and Lyndhurst.
  • The second announcement from CO.LAB also involved partners, this time Unum and Erlanger Health System. Together, they will launch a business accelerator for healthcare entities in 2019.


Stay connected with us on Twitter and LinkedIn. Article ideas and other suggestions should be sent to Include the name and contact information (phone and email) for follow-up.