SpringBoard, a resource hub for Chattanooga-area entrepreneurs, is announced the results of 48Hour Launch, a start-up event aimed at sparking entrepreneurship regionally. This program brings people together to launch businesses in the course of one weekend, providing space, technology, development resources and guidance for teams.
The inaugural event, held in Chattanooga Nov. 13-15, was an overwhelming success, with over 100 participants launching seven projects, officials said.
48HL took off on Friday night, and ended with demonstrations of products and prototypes on Sunday night. At the opening for 48HL on Friday night, organizers encouraged participants to use the weekend to explore creative ideas and to think big.
“Entrepreneurship is a staple in our city’s history, and certainly in our nation’s,” said Josh McManus, co-founder of CreateHere, the hosting venue for 48Hour Launch. “It’s that pioneering spirit, that set of risk-averse genes, that will drive innovation even in the most dire of economic times.”
The following two days were filled with idea generation, roadblocks, and the very essence of entrepreneurship: collaboration. “The Launch exceeded our expectations, but especially in the area of involvement and teamwork,” said Sheldon Grizzle, SpringBoard director and 48Hour Launch participant. “We saw creatives working hand in hand with programmers and it made for a very cool atmosphere, and the results speak to the innovative capacity of East Tennessee.”
The weekend’s roster included designers, web programmers, entrepreneurs, writers, marketing specialists, volunteers, and “jack of all trades.” Chattanoogans dropped by CreateHere at all hours to observe the launch teams completing different stages in business development, from marketing to coding to basic usability.
At the closing demonstration for 48HL on Sunday night, each team presented on their final products and prototypes.
Presentations started with a brief demonstration of Flobuckle, a task-management system designed to serve small to medium sized creative agencies. Their goal? Make sure basic tasks aren’t “adding density to your day.”
Alex Lavidge of Knoxville Overground presented on behalf of his group, which worked in partnership with Knoxville-based jewelry designer Jennifer Ellison. Ms. Ellison’s handmade accessories evoke rock ‘n’ roll, and the team launched mStrandz, a visual identity and website for Ms. Ellison’s business. The site gives Ms. Ellison an opportunity to reach out to a broader audience, and within the next five years, she’d like to see her products compete in Atlanta’s difficult market. Additionally, mStrandz includes a community service component: a portion of all proceeds go to k-12 music appreciation programs in the Knoxville area.
Next on the list was All My Stitches, a social network aggregator developed in just under 15 hours.
HyvMynd, an ambitious project with several components, was developed by a larger team, many of which collaborated with other fellow 48Hour Launchers. Building on their platform, Brix, the company provides custom solutions for small businesses to facilitate the growth of buying local. HyvMynd’s platform includes a free barcode generating website for people looking to sell their products on consignment, which allows for better inventory tracking. Throughout the weekend, they developed a backend database, a website, and an iPhone application, all intended to help manage supply chain and promote local sales.
Lokewl was developed in collaboration with team members from HyvMynd, who used this project as an example of how they hope to operate. Lokewl, a website and iPhone application, collects deals, sales, and coupons from local businesses exclusively. During the demonstration, Shultz expressed that the original goal of the project was to highlight local restaurants, but quickly they realized that “mom and pop” shops could benefit from this type of technology.
James Long and his team used the weekend to continue development of an iPhone game called Farm Wars. This was one of Mr. Long’s first game development projects, and Farm Wars came away with a solid marketing and PR strategy to push the game into the market. He hopes to have it in the iPhone app store within the next couple of months.
The final group to present was Chattanooga 3D, a non-profit project headed up by Stephen Culp and Karen Liwanpo of SmartFurniture. The team used the weekend to develop 3D renderings of downtown and Main Street, to be used by Google Maps. This open-source platform can be used by anyone, and added to by all: at the end of a demonstration, Mr. Culp announced that this will be a community-owned project. For more information, visit http://chattanooga3d.com.
On launch night, Michelle Proctor from the State of Tennessee’s BERO, honored SpringBoard, and used 48Hour Launch to kick-off Global Entrepreneurship Week in Tennessee, which runs from Nov. 16-21. Ms. Proctor also thanked participants for helping make Tennessee a leader in the country during GEW.
Additionally, CreateHere economy fellow Bijan Dhanani took the opportunity to announce the winner of SpringBoard’s Youth Entrepreneurship Contest. Doreen Xu is a senior at Baylor will use her prize to launch La Belle Vie, a custom-made dress company. Additionally, she’ll participate in the SpringBoard’s Business Planning Course.
On Sunday night, participants also spoke to the less tangible take-aways of a weekend spent launching.
“In a sense, we’re all entrepreneurs,” said Mr. Grizzle. “So it’s important we build off the energy developed this weekend.” Mr. Grizzle went on to suggest that another 48HL could take place in May or June of 2010, if the strong community support felt this weekend continued.
“Entrepreneurial spirit really applies across the board, for profit and non-profit,” said Mr. Culp. “Just by coming together and seeing what happens, we can accomplish more than anyone imagines.”
48HL was organized by SpringBoard, Knoxville Overground, Will This Float?, and Launch Memphis, four organizations specializing in entrepreneurship. The first 48HL coincides with the beginning of Global Entrepreneurship Week, Nov. 16-20 and is made possible through generous support from local and national organizations. Sponsors include EPB, Mircrosoft’s BizSpark, the Chattanooga Technology Council, Angel Capital Group, Airnet, Slamdot, Spruz, Harwood, Launch Financial, the Chattanooga Choo Choo, SmartFurniture, Ackermann PR, Entrepreneurs of Knoxville, Technology 2020, and Estate of Confusion.
For more information on 48Hour Launch or SpringBoard, contact Mr. Grizzle by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling 648-2195. For general media inquiries, contact Veronique Bergeron at email@example.com. Also, check out http://createhere.org/blog for more details on each team.