published Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Chattanooga joins startup week for entrepreneurs in October

Drew Belz, Brian Gillikin, Bethany Mollenkof and Isaiah Smallman, from left, work at Fancy Rhino in the Lamp Post Group.
Drew Belz, Brian Gillikin, Bethany Mollenkof and Isaiah Smallman, from left, work at Fancy Rhino in the Lamp Post Group.
Photo by Angela Lewis.


• What: Information session on inaugural Chattanooga Startup Week, to be held Oct. 6-10.

• When: Thursday, 5:30 p.m.

• Where: Lamp Post Group community room, 800 Market St., Chattanooga

It stands to reason that lots of skilled minds sharing information will do better than a few of those minds working in isolation.

That's the underpinning of Startup Weeks that rolled out in recent years from Boulder to Seattle, Austin to Minneapolis.

It also is the philosophy guiding Startup Week Chattanooga, which debuts Oct. 6-10. The event will showcase the city's startup community in ways that budding entrepreneurs can learn from each other, and wherein the public can learn from them as well.

"We want meaningful takeaways," said Tia Capps, spokeswoman for The Company Lab, the nonprofit better known as Co.Lab, one of several Startup Week Chattanooga sponsors.

To that end, an information session on the October event is scheduled Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Lamp Post Group, the Chattanooga venture fund, which is another sponsor.

Attendees can expect to learn about the vision behind Startup Week and how to host an event for it, from panel talks to educational mixers.

Startup Week made it to the Scenic City after Tiffanie Robinson of Lamp Post Group and Paige Southard of River City Co., the nonprofit downtown Chattanooga development company, checked out Startup Week in Denver.

"It was very content driven," Southard said. "You walked out of there with value, whether it was an inspirational talk or how to create front-end code. It was very learning focused."

Chattanooga wants business diversity for its event, so don't expect only tech startups. Plans also call for including budding companies that focus on social issues and building community, as well as creative matters. Think Causeway, Glass House Collective and the Unfoundation, groups "that are using this entrepreneurial and startup model for what has traditionally been nonprofit and philanthropic activity," said Meghan O'Dea of Lamp Post Group.

"We wanted to really encompass the full breadth of the startups that are in Chattanooga's entrepreneurial ecosystem," O'Dea said. "To give a place to startups that might not be included in town around tech."

Call for Makers

Startup Week will feature the first Chattanooga Mini Maker Faire, Oct. 11, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Organizers are seeking interactive exhibits that highlight the process of making things. They can include automated electronics, sustainability projects or large-scale art. You need not be a professional to be included. Tech enthusiasts, crafters, tinkerers, hobbyists and artists of all ages can submit projects.

The deadline for applications, which must be completed online, is Aug. 28.

"We'd love to see more content submitted by the community," said Graham Bredemeyer, Chattanooga Mini Maker Faire's director.

Dozens of "makers" are already slated to participate, from a dad who crafted a tool to teach his children how to ride a bike, to a young entrepreneur who created electronic clothing to react to the environment, according to local event organizers.

For more information see, The family event will be at the First Tennessee Pavilion.

The original Maker Faire was held in San Mateo, Calif., in 2004. In 2012 it featured 800 makers and 110,000 attendees, according to Chattanooga organizers.

Contact staff writer Mitra Malek at or 423-757-6406.

about Mitra Malek...

Mitra Malek writes about business, with a focus on the Chattanooga area's tech, small business and entrepreneurial communities, as well as tourism. Before coming to the Times Free Press, she was a staff writer for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Tampa Bay Business Journal, Journal Inquirer and Palm Beach Post. She has covered local and national politics, government, international trade, a state cancer cluster investigation and real estate growth and economic development, among other subjects. Her reporting ...

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