Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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April 11, 2022 | Tom Ballard

Part 2 of our weekly “News & Notes” features more news from East to West Tennessee

Here’s part two of this week’s “News & Notes” feature.

From Chattanooga:

  • CO.LAB and Society of Work are teaming-up to host what the two Edney Innovation Center tenants are calling a “one of a kind lunch and learn.” Scheduled for 12 noon to 1 p.m. April 19, the event will be held in CO.LAB’s space and allow local entrepreneurs, business owners, co-workers, business support organizations and others to network in a casual lunch hour setting. More details and a link to registration can be found here.
  • The monthly meeting of the Chattanooga Cherubs group exploring how best to increase the availability of angel capital in the community is set for 12 noon April 21. It will be a virtual discussion featuring Matt Patterson, General Partner at Brickyard. His topic will be the “Funders Perspective.” Those interested in learning more can register at this link.
  • The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga posthumously inducted business legends O. Wayne Rollins and Olan Mills Sr. into its “Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame” last Thursday night. The companies and products the men built now are household names. In the case of Rollins, he built a radio and TV empire from scratch and used it to finance the purchase of the Orkin extermination company in 1964 in what was the first leveraged buy-out in the U.S. Mills pioneered the American portrait photography business, taking it from a door-to-door operation in the 1930s to an international juggernaut headquartered in Chattanooga. Click here to read more about the two.

From Nashville:

  • Healing Innovations Inc. captured first prize and $15,000 in last week’s second stop in Music City during Dell’s nine-month pitch event tour that will lead up to a finale where more than $500k in cash prizes and Dell rewards will be awarded. The Nashville Entrepreneur Center hosted the competition. As related in our first article on the start-up in 2019, Luke Benda (pictured right) founded the company to find a better solution for those impaired by neurological issues after a friend’s paralysis that was caused by an automobile accident. Second place and $10,000 went to Bag Lady’s Chip & Fry Company, while the “Crowd Favorite” – Blipster VA – took home $500. Click here to learn more.
  • Groups360, a platform which helps match meeting planners with venues, announced that Zigg CapitalBlackstone Innovations Investments and Fir Tree Partners have invested a combined $35 million in the eight-year old company. The funding will help speed up the development of products that create greater efficiency in group booking, accelerate the launch of housing solutions for better room block management, and expand operations to bring GroupSync’s cutting edge technology to hoteliers in Europe and Asia Pacific. The latest funding comes after Accor, Hilton, IHG Hotels & Resorts, and Marriott International pumped $50 million into Groups360 in 2019. Click here to learn more.
  • Eller Kelliher, Managing Director of Jumpstart Foundry, is changing jobs. In a recent social media post, she wrote: “After almost seven amazing years with Jumpstart Foundry, I’m excited to announce that it is time for my next career challenge! I have accepted an offer to join Shantanu Nigam & Ritesh Sharma as a Partner with SeedtoB Capital. They are both based out of Atlanta, however, I will be staying in Nashville and am excited to continue my work supporting innovative early stage healthcare founders. In my time at Jumpstart, I have grown seven annual seed funds, deployed almost $20M, and invested in over 100 early stage companies. I could not be more grateful to Vic, Marcus, and Doug for their support over the years and through this transition. I am proud of the work we have done together and know that this team is more equipped than ever to continue building and growing Jumpstart Foundry.” Kelliher cut her investment teeth in Chattanooga, first as Management Intern at The JumpFund and then in operations at The Lamp Post Group.
  • Jeremy Raley, who started at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center seven years ago working the front desk in what he thought would be a short-term role, has been promoted to Associate Vice President of Programs.

From Memphis:

The National Institutes of Health awarded grants totaling $677.5 million to Tennessee institutions and companies last year, including 108 grants and funding worth $57.9 million awarded to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and 146 grants worth $108.8 million to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Grants were also awarded to Translational Sciences, the University of Memphis, Oculo Therapy, Immuno Technologies, Diatech Diabetes and St. Jude’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

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