Chattanooga offers most startups of any city in accelerator program

Nov 14, 2013--Aaron Welch, president of Iron Gaming, talks in Thursday in the company's offices.
photo Felicia Jackson with the CPR Lifewrap pitches her company at the Will This Float? event held at the Revelry Room on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Ten finalists pitched business plans in the contest, and the selected winners were the company undaground in the best overall category, Southside Strings in best music & entertainment, and the CPR Lifewrap in best general business.

Three of the nine startup companies chosen for the elite Techstars Austin accelerator program this year are from Chattanooga - offering both a financial boost to the local firms and national attention for Chattanooga's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The local firms picked for the Texas program - CPRWrap, Pass it Down and Woorly - will each receive $120,000 in investment and training assistance along with the management training and advice offered by a variety of business and management experts from across the country.

The three Chattanooga companies were picked from among hundreds of applicants across the country and their leaders began the accelerator program this week in Austin along with other top startup firms picked from Los Angeles, Toronto, Houston, Austin and Fayetteville, Arkansas. Chattanooga birthed more of the promising startups picked for this year's Austin accelerator than any other city.

Amos Schwartzfarb, managing director of Techstars Austin Accelerator, said those picked for the three-month program represent "some of the best and brightest new startups" in the country and are expected to emerge from the program in April with extra investment and expertise to propel their businesses forward.

"We kicked off this week and we are looking forward to three months of intense business building culminating with our Demo Day on April 10 and Investor week April 15–17," Schwartzfarb said. "Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. Our one and only goal is to support and help grow these incredible companies."

Each of the three Chattanooga companies have already participated in local accelerator programs and other assistance programs at the Hamilton County INCubator.

* Woorly is a mobile app that allows companies to reward customers that recommend their products and services to friends and family and earn rewards. The company was founded by Aaron Welch, the founder of the successful restaurant booking app Quick Que. The Woorly platform also enables customers to quickly find exceptional service providers and rewards them for sharing their experiences.

* CPRWrap was founded by physical therapy assistant Felicia Jackson based upon her own life-threatening experience with her son. The company makes a product that provides a template for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and a mouth piece so bystanders can successfully provide emergency CPR.

Jackson won the Startup Business of the Year last year after completing programs for entrepreneurs at Launch, SCORE, CO.LAB and, most recently, the INCubator, where her business is now housed and has begun selling the CPR Wrap.

* Pass it Down, a digital storytelling platform which won the Startup Business of the Year award in 2017, was founded by Chris Cummings. It began as a digital biography service that helps individuals preserve memories through video, text, audio, photo or handwritten responses to story prompts. The company now not only documents family biographies, but also works to tell the stories of communities and organizations.

"We are incredibly honored to be selected to participate and join the Techstars community," Cummings said in a statement. "The opportunity to learn from some of the world's best tech and startup mentors and the doors that the program opens really have set the stage for us to scale our award-winning platform around the globe."

Upon acceptance to a Techstars Accelerator, each company is offered a $100,000 convertible note. Techstars also contributes $20,000, which is commonly used as a stipend to support living expenses during the program, and in return receives 6 percent common stock from each company.

The participating businesses also get lifetime access to the Techstars worldwide network of entrepreneurs, including more than 10,000 mentors; 2,700 investors; 1,200 alumni companies and 180 staff members.

At the Demo Day in April, companies also will be able to pitch their business plans to both prospective investors and customers on a national platform.

Contact Dave Flessner at or at 757-6340