Bragdon joins Spartan Systems as company launches buying link for growing how-to video market

Bragdon joins Spartan Systems as company launches buying link for growing how-to video market

August 8th, 2014 by Mitra Malek in Business Around the Region

Jonathan Bragdon, an entrepreneur who joined Spartan Ventures on Monday as a partner, stands in its offices in Chattanooga. Spartan Ventures is launching a new company called ReadyCart.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

You can learn how to do just about anything through the Internet.

Finding the tools and supplies you need for those projects is another matter, often one so maddening most folks abandon their endeavor as soon as a do-it-yourself video ends.

"Where do I go to get all that stuff? The hardware store, Walmart? By the time you've figured it out, you're like, "Aah, maybe it's not worth it."

That's from the mouth of the man whose Chattanooga company is bridging the gap between inspiration and action.

ReadyCart got going three months ago and has racked up hundreds of partners since then, said Benjamin Wald, a managing partner with Spartan Ventures, the investment and commercialization arm of Spartan Systems.

ReadyCart's website is live, and those hundreds of content creators are using it, posting do-it-yourself videos on YouTube, for example. Below the tutorials it says something like, "Everything I used in the video can be found here," and a click takes viewers to a ReadyCart page where they can buy all that they need.

Still, ReadyCart is in a testing phase and not yet officially launched, though that could happen as early as this fall, said Sheldon Grizzle, managing partner with Spartan Ventures.

It's fitting, then, that Spartan would now bring on board another managing partner, Jonathan Bragdon.

The former chief business officer of Chattanooga-based start-ups Variable Inc. and founder of Tricycle Inc. joined the Rossville Avenue team on Monday.

One of his main points of focus will be ReadyCart, said Bragdon, 44, who holds an M.B.A. from Vanderbilt University.

"He's a powerhouse entrepreneur," Wald said. "He knows the game. He'll be a driving force."

Grizzle, who joined Spartan in January after heading Co.Lab, played a big role in bringing Bragdon on board. The Covenant College graduates have known each other for a decade, and Bragdon was a mentor to Grizzle for much of that time. The two were on quest to ultimately work together, and Bragdon was a good fit for Spartan's needs, Grizzle said.

"It was a gradual but intentional process to getting to this point," Grizzle said.

Bragdon has not only successfully launched his own companies, he's also helped other companies grow -- much like the mission of Spartan Ventures.

Spartan Ventures has a handful of companies in its portfolio, though some are "little more than raw technology with an idea," Bragdon said. "My role is going to be relatively simple: to accelerate the companies that are in the portfolio."

ReadyCart is at the head of the pack and already generating revenue, the partners said.

Spartan gets commission for the products people buy, and the content creators who use ReadyCart also make money. The company declined to elaborate beyond that. It costs content creators nothing to use ReadyCart.

For now, Spartan curates all ReadyCart sale items through Amazon. Members of Spartan's 33-person team handled the technology to make that happen.

If ReadyCart is a hit, it will become the "quintessential model" for Spartan, Grizzle said. More exactly, Spartan's strategy will be to partner with, or in some cases consult for, entrepreneurs who have good ideas. Then Spartan's deep team can incubate the ideas, much the way Spartan's own team worked on the technology to make ReadyCart a reality.

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