Shows highlight Chattanooga business startups

James Chapman, owner of the on-site oil change company "Change 'N' Go," is shown with his oil change van in Chattanooga.

About the startup shows

WTCI's Greater Chattanooga plans to post new short films on Chattanooga's startups periodically with The Leap, at GreaterChattanooga.org. Other Greater Chattanooga films are expected to post every 10 to 12 days. Start It Up broadcasts interviews with Chattanooga entrepreneurs Fridays at 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. on WUTC, 88.1 FM. Information is at startitup.guru, and episodes are archived at wutc.org/programs/start-it.

A new show highlighting Chattanooga's startups follows one that launched late last year through another public media outlet, reinforcing a local desire to broadcast the city's entrepreneurial bent.

The local affiliate of PBS last week aired the first episode of The Leap, featuring Variable Inc., the high-tech Gig-City startup that's earned nods nationally and made its name with the "Node." The Leap is part of a broader show dubbed "Greater Chattanooga," which WTCI also got going recently to share tales of the Scenic City online through film vignettes.

"The whole idea basically came out of the desire we had to tell stories that we saw, that we didn't really have a place to put ... in our existing series," said Shaun Townley, WTCI's vice president of content and digital strategy.

Also, stories about the city's startups (the next one will probably post in April), musicians (Greater Chattanooga's upcoming Feb. 23 episode) and a maker fair (the show's first episode), call for varied video formats and lengths, he said. Given that, and the fact that so many people view video on devices other than televisions, airing the series online made the most sense, Townley said. "Put it out there for folks to consume wherever they find video; folks can watch it on their phone, tablet, YouTube, the PBS app."

The concept for The Leap, specifically -- it's a subset of sorts of Greater Chattanooga -- came from James Chapman, the program director for non-profit organization Causeway and the founder of mobile oil-change company Change-N-Go.

"It all just sort of fit," Townley said. "He would be our guide through that world."

The Leap follows Start It Up, a Friday morning radio show on Chattanooga's NPR affiliate, WUTC, that launched Halloween 2014 and is dedicated to discussing startups and the elements supporting them. The show belongs to Be A Grizzly Media LLC, a partnership between Monty Bruell and Susanne Burnham, both of whom produce the show.

Start It Up's goal is to inspire and show listeners that Chattanooga has resources at the ready, should they want to break out on their own, said Bruell, the show's host.

"Everyone sort of has a business idea rolling around in the back of their mind," Bruell said. "In talking to entrepreneurs, the number one obstacle they have to overcome is fear. We want to tell the stories of how people started their business, the roadblocks they encountered, the successes they had."

Bruell, an entrepreneur himself, is also a mentor at The Company Lab, the Chattanooga-based business accelerator better known as Co.Lab. In fact, he mentored Burnham, founder and CEO of Click Click Boom, and it was through that partnership that the two dreamed up Start It Up.

Sometimes the show runs 20 minutes, other times an hour. It has featured Granola, Chattanooga School of Language, Feetz, TechTown, Co.Starters, HR Business Solutions. Chapman, in fact, was a guest last November.

WTCI hopes to air Greater Chattanooga at least through the end of the year. EPB and the local office of UBS Financial Services are sponsoring the show for now. The station plans to put out new episodes every 10 to 12 days and by summer have compiled enough of them to put together half-hour compilations it broadcasts on television.

"WTCI has chronicled the emergence of the startup community since the very beginning," said Mike Bradshaw, Co.Lab's executive director. He also said it's been wonderful seeing one of his organization's mentors anchoring a show dedicated to startups.

Contact staff writer Mitra Malek at [email protected] or 423-757-6406. Follow her on Twitter @MitraMalek.