Located in the heart of the beautiful Tennessee River Valley, Chattanooga has gained national prominence as one of the first cities to install a publicly funded fiber-optic smart grid. The grid has attracted entrepreneurs from around the country who leverage the super fast, reliable, and affordable connectivity (1 Gbit/s ). Its location between both Atlanta and Nashville allows it to attract talent from both of these fast growing markets. From being the birthplace of Coca-Cola’s bottling operations to hosting the central hub for Access America’s logistics operations, Chattanooga punches above its weight when compared to similarly sized cities. The presence and involvement of these companies in this small city has fostered a collaborative and cooperative entrepreneurial community. With initiatives such as The Enterprise Center and Launch Tennessee, the local and state governments have been catalysts in the growth of the community. The Chattanooga Renaissance Fund, an angel fund which has raised $11 million, has been an integral member of the investment community. While the city’s charm may be appealing to some, its size and the lack of a major technical university have made recruiting technical talent challenging.
These businesses offer industry expertise and are a source of startup talent and potential customers. They help fuel the local startup community.
Acquired for $125m by
Up and coming startup
Up and coming startup
Acquired for $11.5m by
As CEO of Launch Tennessee, Charlie is responsible for fostering collaboration to enhance entrepreneurship in the state of Tennessee. Charlie was also a founding partner of the Chattanooga Renaissance Fund, Chattanooga’s first organized angel fund, as well as the CEO of The Company Lab (CO.LAB), an accelerator that provides advice and mentoring to entrepreneurs and runs the summer GIGTANK program.
David Belitz currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of The Lupton Company, a family office established from the sale of the Lupton family’s Coca-Cola Bottling Companies. David is a partner at both the XMi High Growth Fund and the Chattanooga Renaissance Fund.
Lucy is the CEO and founder of Feetz, a startup that creates custom footwear with 3D printers. Previously, Lucy was Entrepreneur-In-Residence at the Fab Lab in San Diego, a digital fabrication laboratory sponsored by MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms.
In 2002, Ted founded third-party logistics company Access America which merged with Coyote Logistics in 2014. With his co-founders Barry Large and Allan Davis, Ted founded Lamp Post Group, a VC firm and tech business incubator.
Ken serves as the President and CEO of The Enterprise Center, which seeks to establish Chattanooga as a hub of innovation by leveraging the city's digital infrastructure. Previously, Ken was a partner at the development firm of Kinsey, Probasco and Hays.
Dr. Prevost is the co-founder and CEO at Torch. She is also a partner at the venture capital firm, Lamp Post Group and at The JumpFund, an angel fund investing in female-led startups with high growth potential.
As Executive Director at The Company Lab, Mike oversees an integral part of the ecosystem that serves entrepreneurs by creating a collaborative environment through its accelerators, GIGTank and Springboard. He is also a professor at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, where he teaches students who want to start businesses.
Sheldon is an integral member of the startup community, serving as a partner at Blank Slate Ventures, the first seed fund designed specifically for pre-revenue startups in the Chattanooga region. He is also a partner at Spartan Ventures, and a founder at The Company Lab, GIGTANK, and ReadyCart.
As President of the Benwood Foundation, Sara oversees the support of innovative community efforts focused on growing the entrepreneurial pipeline, improving citizen engagement, and developing a smart, connected city. Previously, Sara served as program officer for the Lyndhurst Foundation, focusing on the revitalization of downtown and redevelopment.
As Managing Partner for the JumpFund, Kristina is responsible for managing an angel fund that invests in female-led companies with growth potential in order to generate a strong financial return and elevate the role of women in business. Previously, she was Assistant Dean of External Affairs for the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga’s College of Business.
Mayor Bob Corker and Congressman Zach Wamp established The Enterprise Center to encourage high-tech ventures, the redevelopment of polluted brownfield sites, and to transfer Oak Ridge technology to Chattanooga.2002
The group becomes the nucleus of the nascent startup and creative communities and the epicenter of innovation on Mainstreet. Between 2007 and 2012, it helped launch 110 projects persuading investors to sink more than $800,000 into local startups.2007
At 200 times faster than the national average with its 1 Gbit/s speed, the fiber optic smart grid fuels high-speed Internet, TV, and phone service to business and residential customers in the service area. The grid begins to attract developers and entrepreneurs that benefit from the low cost utility to build their tech startups.2010
The accelerator emerges as the successor to CreateHere in supporting and uniting the startup community.2010
With the Chattanooga Renaissance Fund focusing on Series A, and Blank Slate taking on seed-stage investment, the available capital has attracted local and national entrepreneurs while activating the local angel community.2010
The public-private partnership supports a state-wide network of accelerators, connect research centers and corporations with the community and co-invests with local ventures in Tennessee based companies. It has invested in more than 37 companies across Seed to Series B levels and has had 3 successful exits.2011
The Company Lab (CO.LAB) launches the first GIGTank, an accelerator program focused on utilizing Chattanooga's GIG grid.2012
Formed by local businesswomen and women investors, the fund quickly raised $2 million to fuel women led startups.2014
The revitalized center shifts in order to leverage the GIG network in Chattanooga’s development of an “innovation-based economy.”2014
The second annual AngelSummit is held in Chattanooga, bringing national attention to the Chattanooga startup scene. Investors, accelerators, and community leaders from across the country convene in Chattanooga to chart the future of startup investing in cities across the US.October, 2015