Annual Southeast startup event hits Nashville again

Seen on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015, at the Business Development Center in Chattanooga, Tenn., Tony DiSanto, a mechanical engineer and roboticist at Branch Technology, prepares to use the company's giant 3D printer that he designed and built. Branch Technology has combined industrial robotics and 3D printing to manufacture structural components used in high-end architecture.
photo Photographed at the Lamp Post Group on Monday, Oct. 26, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tenn., CXO (chief experience officer) Wayne Fullam, CEO Shelley Prevost and COO Jack Studer, from left, are starting a tech company called Torch. Prevost is holding the company's product, a router designed to let parents manage and filter their children's access to the internet. The device also features site blocking, metrics about usage, screen time and visitation history as well as "bedtime" and "pause" functions.

About Launch Tennessee

Launch Tennessee puts on 36|86 to gathers startups, business leaders, media and strategic investors for a celebration of southern entrepreneurship and southern culture. The event is June 6-7, in Nashville.Three Chattanooga startups are among the companies featured: Branch Technology, Rapid RMS and Torch.For more information or tickets:

A competition that will introduce three dozen startups from the Southeast to more than 100 major investors launches Monday in Nashville.

36|86 will feature Bellhops cofounder Cameron Doody as a speaker on a panel that includes Jennifer Brandenburger of Lyft, Mara Castro of Warby Parker and David Windely of IQTalent Partners. They will discuss recruitment and employee retention.

Kristina Montague, managing partner with Chattanooga-based Jump Fund, will be a finalist judge, helping choose the $50,000 winner. All the participating startups get a $1,000 travel stipend.

Three Chattanooga startups are competing: Branch Technology, a company that plans to manufacture structural components with a massive 3-D printer; Rapid RMS, which offers a cloud-based point-of-sale system; and Torch, which offers a wireless router to help parents control internet use.

The two-day event includes conversation regarding drone technology and policy surrounding it, a music-and-technology panel with executives from Sony Music and discussion on investing in the South with perspective from Google Ventures.

Winners from the Southern Series pitch competitions progressed to 36|86. That series took place this spring in Atlanta; Birmingham, Ala.; and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.

"Think of the American Idol tour, but for startups," said Charlie Brock, president and CEO of Launch Tennessee, which puts on the Southern Series and 36|86. "This helps us ensure a really strong field of startups. We have put the hard work in to have a great field of entrepreneurs that is representative of the entire region, not just a certain municipality or state."

The competition is expected have about 1,000 attendees, 90 investment firms and 140 additional investors (those not associated with a firm, for example), Brock said. About one third of the investors are from Tennessee, slightly more than one third from the Southeast and close to 40 percent from elsewhere, Brock said. He expects about 20 percent of attendees to be from outside the Southeast, based on attendance last year.

Last year's competition featured Chattanooga startups PriceWaiter, RootsRated and ZipFlip. RootsRated and PriceWaiter made it to the final round.

This is the fourth year LaunchTN has hosted the event, formerly known as Southland. It's called 36|86 for the latitude and longitude of Nashville.

Contact Mitra Malek at or or Twitter @MitraMalek.