published Sunday, June 1st, 2014

Six Chattanooga startups pitch at Southland Village

By Charlie Brock

Find out more

More information and tickets are available at www.southlandse.com.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Charlie Brock, president and CEO of Launch Tennessee — a public-private partnership supporting the development of high-growth companies in Tennessee — is sponsor of the Southland Conference on Technology, Entrepreneurship and Southern Culture on June 9-11 in Nashville.

When we announced the early-stage companies that were chosen to exhibit in the village at the upcoming Southland Conference in Nashville, we were pleased to see so many Tennessee teams on the list. Of the 36 companies selected to be a part of the three-day entrepreneurship conference, 13 hail from Tennessee -- the highest of any state.

There will be six companies in Southland Village representing Chattanooga, including one who is currently living in the Scenic City participating in this summer's Gig Tank program.

The six startups

• Ambition: A platform that drives productivity at work through sustainable, team-based competition.

• Bellhops: An online moving platform utilizing college students for on-campus moves.

• Iron Gaming: Legitimizing E-sports by creating a global standards organization that provides a holistic player experience.

• ReadyCart: A platform creating a simple way to bundle products and purchase in an online marketplace setting.

• Skuidify: A platform that combines the power of Salesforce with the ingenuity of design to deliver scalable, customizable, mobile and social solutions.

• Feetz: An app that allows users to take a photo of their feet and then have form-fitting shoes customized, 3D printed and shipped directly to them. (Feetz is a San Diego, Calif.-based company that is currently participating in this summer's GigTank accelerator program).

We received hundreds of applications from across the country -- and even outside of the United States -- so it is thrilling to see so many Tennessee-based companies on the list.

The Tennessee representation we will have in Southland Village reaffirms the caliber of startups found throughout our state. We should give credit to our accelerator programs across the state, as several of the Tennessee companies in Southland Village have gone through these programs, as well as local venture capitalists and angel groups who have invested in many of the companies. The commitment and support from these partners help create better startups in Chattanooga and Tennessee as a whole.

As our partner, Sarah Lacy, from PandoDaily mentioned in her post, there are two aspects of the startup competition that have been particularly fun for us to put together.

The first was our syndicate of judges, which we have finally rounded out and include judges outside the Valley and New York City to mix it up. They include: Tige Savage of Revolution Ventures; Michael Goldstein of SwitchPitch; Zach Ware of Project100; Erik Moore of Base Ventures; Peter Barth of the Iron Yard; Josh Kopelman of First Round Capital, Shervin Pishevar of Sherpa Ventures, Kirsten Green of Forerunner Ventures, Kevin Colleran of General Catalyst and Vic Gatto from Nashville's Jumpstart Foundry.

The judges have committed to invest $10,000 each in the winner of Southland, with the terms negotiated live on stage. These judges offer a high-caliber diversity across experience, geographies and sector expertise. And as Sarah noted, any startup is going to be lucky to have the opportunity to present to this group.

The second exciting aspect is that each of the 10 startups selected to pitch are being paired with a hand-picked mentor to coach them leading up to the conference as well as be present on stage while their respective company presents.

We wanted to be sure to select people who could specifically help each startup. Phil Libin of Evernote, Andy Dunn of Bonobos, Tristan Walker of Walker & Company and Bill Ready of Braintree are just a few of the committed mentors. This is an invaluable opportunity for these companies to get expert advice from leaders in their industry.

Overall, we are thrilled with all the companies invited to Southland. There will be a broad geographical representation, with companies from Mexico, San Diego, Silicon Valley, New York City, Atlanta, New Orleans, Washington, D.C., Ohio, New Jersey and Nebraska.

More importantly, the teams all have exciting products and business models that have the potential to be the next big success in the startup world.

We'll announce the 10 companies from Southland Village that are chosen to pitch for $100,000 at the conference. You definitely don't want to miss out on Southland Pitch Competition -- it will be as enjoyable for the audience as it is for the startups.

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