A top official for a fast-growing Chattanooga technology company said Wednesday that many people early on "thought we were crazy" coming to Chattanooga to start the business.
But a few years later, the company that created a motivational platform that operates like fantasy football for sales and marketing pros is up to 22 employees. Company CEO Travis Truett said Ambition is aiming to surpass 100 workers and $10 million in annual revenues in three years.
› Spirit of Innovation Award winner: Ambition
› Other finalists: Learning Blade and RootsRated
› Early Innovator Award honorees: Ark Labs, Branch Technologies and Feetz named by Chattanooga Technology Council
"We moved here five years ago. We pitched and pitched and pitched," Truett said after winning the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's Spirit of Innovation Award. "Here we are now with a thriving company and growing team."
Ambition beat out a pair of other companies, Learning Blade and RootsRated, for the award that lauds businesses which launch innovative products, practices or processes.
"It's kind of a closure in a chapter in our book," said Truett, calling Chattanooga "specifically a great place to come start a business."
Chattanoogans genuinely want to help fledgling businesses, he said.
"It's not too big, not too small," Truett said, adding there's a culture where people say "we can build whatever we want to build."
Jared Houghton, Ambition's chief sales officer, told several hundred people at the Chattanooga Convention Center that it means a lot to win the innovation award.
"There's a lot of great stuff going on here," he said.
Five years ago, Houghton said, the company was spurned by entities with whom it sought help to grow the business.
He said the company connected with Kathryn Foster of the Chattanooga Chamber, which led to other conversations and eventually to what became The Lamp Post Group, a venture incubator in the city. Ambition later got accepted into a Silicon Valley initiative, which also helped propel the company, Houghton said.
"There's really something special here," he said.
Matt McLelland, of Kenco Logistic Services and a Spirit of Innovation judge, said Chattanooga can stay true to its heritage by building a strong network of entrepreneurs and innovators.
"We're Chattanoogans and we start things, and maybe you can say it's in our blood. So let's keep this thing moving," he said.
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6318.