A Chattanooga startup company that is developing an online program to aid other business startups with developing their businesses and raising investment capital has moved into Hamilton County's business incubator on the North Shore.
Startup Champs, LLC, was created by entrepreneurial coach and consultant Alex Lavidge who previously directed GigTank at The Company Lab and was once development director at Variable Inc. Lavidge said his market research company needed extra space and contacts provided within the INCubator.
Startup Champs has worked with such companies as Bridge Innovate, Finworx, Smart RIA, Kahuna Brands and Pass It Down as well as new ventures across the country from San Francisco to Austin, Texas.
"A lot of these clients are established corporations seeking to create more recurring revenue streams, or, they are self-financed startups," Lavidge said. "In either case, they want processes to follow that will make it easier to grow sales for new ventures upward to their first $1 million."
In addition to expanding its sales and marketing services, Startup Champs will use its new location to also create multimedia content for entrepreneurs during their first year of business. Additionally, Startup Champs develops software products and and a targeted online accelerator program for businesses seeking investment capital.
Dania Hernandez, co-founder and chief creative officer at Startup Champs, moved to Chattanooga last December from Austin, Tex. After 10 years working in accounting for tech startups in New York City and Austin, she said she saw a need for an agency helping entrepreneurs go through design thinking processes.
"Behind every scalable business model is a well-thought-out user experience," she said.
Both Lavidge and Hernandez say they feel "right at home" in the INCubator.
"The startup community here is so warm and welcoming, unlike any other I've visited across the world," Hernandez said. "It also puts us in the middle of a lot of robust collaboration about how to improve success rates of new ventures and entrepreneurial energy that is as unique as Chattanooga itself."
In the past year, INCubator businesses generated $17 million in revenue and investment. The 127,000-square-foot business incubator, which is owned by the county and operated by the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce with counseling assistance from the Small Business Development Center, is the third biggest business incubator of its kind in the country and the biggest in Tennessee.
"Both current Business Development Center business owners and grads of the program add to our economy," Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said in a statement. "In the BDC's 30th year, it's great to see entrepreneurship continue thriving as businesses like Startup Champs join our impressive roster of businesses the INCubator has supported."
Alexis Willis, director of Small Business and Entrepreneurship at the INCubator, said Startup Champs represents a growing focus for Chattanooga's startups – the importance of scaling.
"Scaling is how you get your business to a higher level," Willis said. "That growth allows the business to create jobs, take on more clients – to push out of the startup phase."
Contact Dave Flessner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 757-6340