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Media: NVille's Ayumi Bennett preps launch of regional Startup Southerner
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Ayumi Fukuda Bennett

AYUMI Fukuda Bennett plans to go-live Feb. 1 with Startup Southerners, a site devoted to the Southeast's tech and entrepreneurial scene.

Founder and Editor-in-Chief Bennett, 35, served half of 2015 as editor of Southern Alpha (SA), a site with a similar mission. Her new site will be here after launch on Monday.

She told Venture Nashville today she is joined by launch-team members Managing Editor Lena Anthony, a local freelance editor/writer formerly with Hammock; Nicholas Norfolk, a social-media specialist based in Little Rock; Jeremy Payne, principal in JMP28 LLC leadership coaching and consulting; and, Rachel Cypher, a writer and a 2013 graduate of Belmont University. Bennett and Anthony are both Vanderbilt University alumna. As undergrads, both worked on the staff of the once-legendary Vanderbilt Hustler student newspaper.

Bennett said she will retain majority interest in the LLC, with Anthony, Norfolk and Payne also having interests, all of which is being finalized.

Bennett is currently enrolled on diversity and inclusion scholarship for female founders in the Pre-Flight program of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, which is for business creators not yet ready to consider an accelerator or similar path.

While hoisting her new banner, Bennett continues to freelance or contract in software and Web development, with clients including Nashville-based devOps company Sophicware LLC; and, with ResaleAI, a provider of retailing software owned by Plato's Closet (L2M LLC), which is led by entrepreneur and longtime Nashville techie Jackson Miller.

Signed to provide columns for Startup Southerner are attorney Alex Davie of Riggs Davie; Seth Steele, software developer and writer; Jake Hare, founder-CEO of the Launchpeer app/Web agency; and, Charisse Lambert, a Web developer with Sophicware, according to Bennett.

In the months since Bennett's departure from the blog in November, Southern Alpha (SA) was conveyed to Solidus-backed Southcomm Communications, a Nashville publisher with dozens of commercial titles. The SA blog has been essentially in hiatus since then, pending a go-forward decision by Southcomm CEO Chris Ferrell.

Southcomm's Ferrell said late today he has not yet decided the fate of Southern Alpha.

Prior to Bennett, SA was edited by Kelley Boothe, who is currently marketing director with Bank Director magazine, according to her LinkedIn. She, too, has periodically made known her interest in keeping a hand in coverage of startup culture and activities in the region.

In addition to Startup Southerner and potentially a relaunched Southern Alpha, another entrant in chasing the Southeastern techno-culture is Little Rock-based Hark.tv, operated by designer and entrepreneur Tim Freeman.

Freeman told Venture Nashville he'll be in town here next week, building partnerships and other relationships. He said v2.0 of Hark will debut later this quarter.

Regionally oriented blogs and techno-culture sites seems to be percolating more rapidly as a semblance of calm has returned to the U.S. economy.

Earlier offerings in the category -- such as TechMedia's former TechJournal South title out of North Carolina -- have evolved. TechMedia dropped its news-aggregation and reporting to focus solely on what is apparently a successful series of Tech conferences nationwide.

Marcus Whitney

Others are also in-motion to create regional entrepreneurial content: For example, LaunchTN, which seeks a Southeast regional footprint, has begun work to beef-up its site with video and other content.

And, Jumpstart Foundry Co-Founder and President Marcus Whitney's independent The Unlikely Company is rumored allied with former Mountain Agency Co-founder Jacob Jones and others on further content projects. In collaboration with Mountain, Whitney published a book on entrepreneurship, titled Create and Orchestrate.

A few months ago, Whitney's Unlikely Company also began the Oasis Venture youth entrepreneurship project with the nonprofit Oasis Center in Nashville.

Whitney has not yet responded to a late-afternoon query, today. This story will be updated as warranted.

Bennett said she has an extensive personal network of informal advisors, but has not formally selected outside advisors. Her husband, Matt Bennett, holds a Macc in accounting and is a senior consultant with LBMC information security. He's handling the books, for now.

This story will be updated, as warranted. VNC

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Tags: Ayumi Fukuda Bennett, Belmont University, Chris Ferrell, content, Hammock, Jackson Miller, Jeremy Payne, JMP28, Jumpstart Foundry, Kelley Boothe, LBMC, Lena Anthony, Marcus Whitney, Mountain, Nicholas Norfolk, oasis center, Plato's Closet, PreFlight, Rachel Cypher, ResaleAI, Solidus, Southcomm Communications, Southern Alpha, Startup Southerner


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