PART 1: A preview of the upcoming “Startup Week Chattanooga”

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first article in a two-part series spotlighting the upcoming “Startup Week Chattanooga.”)

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

About 120 different events were proposed for this month’s “Startup Week Chattanooga,” according to Marcus Shaw, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Company Lab, better known as CO.LAB.

Not all 120 submissions will not find their way onto the week’s calendar. Instead, he says the planners will “right size the schedule to be most impactful.” That means somewhere south of 100 different events, still an impressive number.

CO.LAB has assumed responsibility for all logistics for the annual event for the first time this year. Up to now, it has been a team of community volunteers.

“The feel will be similar . . . community-focused for both large corporations down to small businesses,” Shaw says.

The official dates for “Startup Week Chattanooga” are October 22 through 26, although there is a special event set for the weekend preceding the Gig City’s celebration on entrepreneurship. It is the fourth annual “Mini Maker Faire” on October 20 at the Chattanooga Public Library.

“‘Startup Week’ is a multi-day experience featuring a number of community-led events that highlight our growing start-up scene and inspire entrepreneurial thinking,” Shaw told us in a recent interview. “We want to showcase the very best of Chattanooga – its can-do attitude, its innovative spirit, and above all its people.”

In that regard, organizers are culminating the week with a first-ever event – the “Gig City Elixir” – set for October 26 and 27. Built around the city’s brand for high-speed networking, the two-day event is expected to draw several hundred programmers to the city to explore the new programming language.

“It is going to bring a lot of talent to Chattanooga,” says Tia Capps, CO.LAB’s Chief Communications Officer. “It’s a really good way to show-off our network and our city.”

As we learned from Bruce Tate, the “Gig City Elixir” organizer, Elixir is a functional programming language that will significantly disrupt enterprises of all types over the long-term. His goals in bringing the event to Chattanooga will be outlined in an upcoming article on

“No one would think this could be done in Chattanooga,” Shaw noted of Tate’s efforts.

CO.LAB is also planning daily lunches around themes like healthcare on Monday and banking on Tuesday. They are part of CO.LAB’s efforts to foster more corporate collaboration with start-ups. Details on the first two and others will be forthcoming.

On October 22, the latest iteration of the “Will It Float?” competition will be held in conjunction with Kiva, the crowdfunding enterprise founded in 2005 with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.

“It brings financing opportunities to unbankable cities and individuals,” Shaw says, emphasizing that alignment with one of CO.LAB’s missions of serving and supporting underserved populations.

Shaw is just a little more than a year into his new role, having started in late July 2017. Since then, he has been part of a number of significant events in Chattanooga including a stop on the national “SBIR Road Tour” and Steve Case’s “Rise of the Rest Road Tour.” CO.LAB has also offered two accelerators including its first-ever consumer goods program.

“The level of engagement (in the community) has been great,” he says.

NEXT: A more extensive look at the “Gig City Elixir” event.

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