Memphis-Based Tech Accelerator Head, Eric Mathews, Discusses Start.Co
Eric Mathews is the Founder and CEO of Start Co., a business building ecosystem based in Memphis, TN. Start Co. operates a series of accelerator programs, including Seed Hatchery for B2B companies, Sky High for social enterprises, as well as Upstart for women-led companies.
What is Start Co.? What do you do?
Start Co. is a venture development organization that is internationally recognized for moving founders and startups through the early stages of starting up with core accelerator programming and pressure. Located in the heart of downtown Memphis, Tenn., Start Co. relentlessly builds founders and their startup businesses from raw idea through to market entry. Having operated 11 accelerator cohorts in 5 years and co-built another 4 accelerator programs in the same time period, Start Co. is one of the most experienced venture development organizations in the Southeast.
What is a milestone you celebrated at Start Co. recently?
A first-of-its-kind collaboration is taking shape in Memphis, Tenn. in 2016. Intentionally leveraging the industrial assets of the region, six vertical-specific startup accelerator operations will come together under one roof for one amazing summer of business-building.
Start Co. will serve as the backbone and core curriculum provider for partner programs ZeroTo510, EPIcenter Logistics, Start MMT in addition to the three Start Co. programs Seed Hatchery, Upstart, and Sky High.
Investment capital, mentorship, access to industry partners, and an intense regime of programming will all be deployed to build up to 20 technology-based startup companies in just 100 days.
The entire Summer of Acceleration will culminate in a joint Demo Day that is unprecedented for a market the size of Memphis.
What advice would you give to future angel investors or people considering becoming angel investors?
Investors of all types need to define their investment thesis in advance of evaluating potential deals in which to invest. This will help the investor to quickly screen deals out that don't fit that thesis.
Things to consider in the thesis including target amount to deploy per year and the maximum per deployment, whether the investor will lead or follow, what level of startup maturity they will invest at, whether they will or will not reserve for follow-on rounds, target ownership percent they wish to maintain, what level of control they desire, and what level of engagement they desire post-investment.
What makes Start Co. companies attractive to investors?
I think investors are surprised to learn that startups from the around the world are moving to Memphis to startup and they are staying. We stretch our companies to solve real problems in big industries that are ripe for technology upgrades -- that's because we focus on B2B IT HaaS and SaaS.
Because we believe that if you build great founders they will build great startups, we find our founders stick to the fundamentals. Because Memphis has a humble and authentic culture our founders don't get caught up in "startup theatre" -- they focus on results and are relentless in their pursuit.
What can our readers look forward to in the future from the Start Co. programs?
Our Start-Q experience will grow this year to include teams from around the region and attract national partners, investors, and startup supporters. For those who don't know, the World Championship of BBQ is held in Memphis, TN each year in May. One San Francisco investor dubbed it the "Burning Man of BBQ." It is a peak experience that is distinctly Memphis. Next year we anticipate further growth of the program and look forward to talking to other accelerators, investors, and startup supporters to participate. Learn more about Start-Q here: http://www.startq2016.com
InCrowd Capital is an angel investment group that invests in companies going through incubator, accelerator and university programs across the Southeast. The "Five Questions For..." interview series will bring you insights from leaders in the entrepreneurial and investor ecosystems across the Southeast. Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to receive our next interview in the series.