published Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Startup Tennessee comes to Chattanooga

  • photo
    Michael Burcham, serial entrepreneur and former Hospital Corporation of America executive
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The head of Startup Tennessee spoke to Chattanooga rotarians today about his plans to organize the various startup accelerators throughout the state into a coherent force.

Michael Burcham, serial entrepreneur and former Hospital Corporation of America executive, said the goal is to unite the disparate efforts currently under way, bringing structure to the typically structure-free world of entrepreneurship.

By forming a stronger voice, people with ideas can more easily find people with money to back them, including out-of-state investors, he said.

“Together, we speak with a much louder voice,” Burcham said. “We need to have system that’s strong enough so that outsiders see that Tennessee represents a great opportunity.”

The Company Lab, which has served as Chattanooga’s startup accelerator, recently received a half-million dollar state grant to expand its efforts from Hamilton Counties to the entire 10-county region.

Charlie Brock, who will split his time between Company Lab and Four Bridges Capital, along with current Company Lab head Sheldon Grizzle will lead the effort to establish a “front door” for entrepreneurs in the area, Brock said.

Brock, who is also a founding partner at the Chattanooga Renaissance Fund, brings relationships from the world of capital investment, while Grizzle is coming fresh off the 48-hour launch startup event.

The two-phase plan to organize startup accelerators in Chattanooga, Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville should be complete by mid-2012, while plans are already in motion to coordinate industry events, Burcham said.

“In today’s market, it’s very important that we organize together,” he said.

Contact staff writer Ellis Smith at or 423-757-6315.

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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