published Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Co.Lab’s fall accelerator program aids business startups

A 3D printer that is used by Co.Lab sits in the corner of the fourth floor of the Chattanooga Public Library with a heart printed by 3D Operations on Monday, June 9, 2014.
A 3D printer that is used by Co.Lab sits in the corner of the fourth floor of the Chattanooga Public Library with a heart printed by 3D Operations on Monday, June 9, 2014.
Photo by Erin O. Smith /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Entrepreneurs don't have to go it solo and could get help connecting with investors — if they are able to check off the following:

• They are working on a high-growth potential startup.

• They are fully focused on scaling that startup.

Once they've satisfied those requirements, they're candidates to take advantage of Co.Lab's fall accelerator program, which starts Sept. 15. The deadline for applications is Sept. 12.

Co.Lab is particularly encouraging entrepreneurs with ideas in 3-D printing and additive manufacturing, sustainability and the outdoors.

"This is kind of an experiment, which is why we're also keeping our doors open to any kind of high-growth potential startup," said Tia Capps, spokeswoman for Co.Lab, the nonprofit organization formally known as The Company Lab.

The mentor-driven program lasts for three months and bills itself as a way to help startups attract capital and customers.

At the other end of the spectrum, it also can help startups identify major weaknesses so that they don't put energy into a model that is unlikely to survive in the marketplace. That can save an entrepreneur a "great deal of time and money that he or she can put toward a more viable option in the future," Capps said.

The program has contributed to a fair share of startup success in just a few years. For example, Rapid RMS, a business that grew out of the organization's fall accelerator last year, got $350,000 in seed funding from Blank Slate Ventures and a small group of individual angel investors.

Among the resources accelerator participants get: work space in Co.Lab's Southside Chattanooga offices and the chance to meet with qualified investors. Participants have to pay a $1,500 fee.

The program is divided into three parts: developing a "product/market fit," a process focused on product and customer development; developing channels to market, a process focused on marketing and distribution; and telling an "investable story," wherein participants learn to discuss their business in financial terms that make sense to investors.

For more information, visit colab.co/what-we-do/colab-accelerator.

Contact staff writer Mitra Malek at mmalek@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6406.

about Mitra Malek...

Mitra Malek writes about business, particularly Chattanooga's tech, entrepreneurial and venture capital communities, as well as tourism. Before coming to the Times Free Press she reported for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Tampa Bay Business Journal, Journal Inquirer and Asbury Park Press. She spent eight years reporting for The Palm Beach Post, where she covered a state cancer cluster investigation. Her work at the Post covering government won her honors from the Society of Professional Journalists and ...

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