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July 31, 2014 | Tom Ballard

“GIGTANK” Specialist shares his observations, update on “CO.STARTERS”

GigTank-teknoBy Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.

Here are some additional snips from this week’s “GIGTANK Demo Day” in Chattanooga.

One of the Specialists also has his own start-up. 

“I want to be the Netflix for art,” George Liu told us at the VIP reception on Monday night.

The Southern California native – Rancho Cucamonga to be exact – is one of Launch Tennessee’s Specialists who are funded by The Blackstone Foundation to provide additional assistance to the state’s various accelerators that are wrapping-up their summer-long sessions over the next few weeks.

In addition to helping the 10 start-ups in the “GIGTANK” with marketing and business planning advice, Liu also has a company on the side named Chisl. The name really describes his focus – three-dimensional art creation.

“We are trying to put 3D models online,” Liu says, explaining that his idea is to provide an interactive platform for individuals to use 3D to create their own art, specifically sculptures.

“We are mostly focusing on the classical era right now, due to copyright laws,” he adds.

Liu’s plans on having a minimum viable product by mid-August so that he can pursue seed funding. As the product evolves, he expects to add other art periods or eras to the mix with a long-term goal of offering online courses.

In addition to the start-up, there’s the matter of his college education. Liu begins his second year at Columbia University this fall where he’s majoring in economics with a minor in computer science.

So, how did a guy from California who is studying in New York City and had never been to the south end-up in Chattanooga for the summer?

“When I saw the information about ‘GIGTANK,’ I thought why not come to Chattanooga,” Liu explained. “I wanted to explore the region.”

The experience has been worthwhile. “Everyone has been so supportive with introductions,” he notes, citing the truth about Southern hospitality.

“It’s almost as if my own start-up is in the accelerator,” Liu explains.

“CO.STARTERS” really taking-off. 

In addition to running the “GIGTANK,” CO.LAB also sponsors the “CO.STARTERS” program.

At the VIP reception, we caught-up briefly with Enoch Elwell, Program Director for the initiative. We had not chatted with him about it since we published an article in January.

“It’s exceeding our expectations,” he said, noting the program is being offered in 29 cities with another 10 exploring the possibility. Knoxville is one of the confirmed locations with a session sponsored by the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center starting August 11.

“We just thought it was for smaller communities, but larger cities have the same need,” Elwell said.

“CO.STARTERS” is a business development program that helps aspiring entrepreneurs put ideas into action and turn a passion into a sustainable and thriving small business.

Several start-ups announce plans to stay in Chattanooga. 

The top executives of two of the start-ups that relocated to Chattanooga from “GIGTANK” announced plans to make that permanent. Lucy Beard of Feetz received a rousing response when she said the California-based manufacturer of custom-fit footwear was moving to the Scenic City. Similarly, Tagg Jefferson of GRIDCURE, an electric utility software provider, said he and his Co-Founder had rented space in Chattanooga.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Look for an additional article next week sharing the ideas of the 3D printing panel at the “GIGTANK Demo Day.”)

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