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Nashville 'Startup Weekend' for tech ventures is still a long shot
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Nashville 'Startup Weekend' for tech ventures is still a long shot | Eric Mathews,Startup Weekend,Emerge Memphis,Mercury Technology Labs,spinnr.com,innovation

Mercury's Eric Mathews
Nashville is currently trailing Austin, Little Rock and other cities in online voting that will determine whether Nashville manages to land a "Startup Weekend," the 54-hour endurance test that could produce a better-connected technology community -- and possibly a new venture, or two.

This morning, Nashville had only 80 votes on the website maintained by Boulder, Colo.-based Startup Weekend LLC, which licenses events around the country.

In contrast, in a single week of concerted campaigning Memphis drew over 600 votes and quickly got the nod for its May 30 event that attracted 85 hardy participants. There's no evidence of such a campaign in Nashville, at this hour.

Most cities need only about 200 votes to create a licensed Startup Weekend, according to Eric Mathews, who was co-founder of Startup Memphis Weekend. In an interview with VNC June 5, Mathews stressed that the grassroots nature of entrepreneurism requires a city to create an ecosystem that is friendly to new ventures.

Mathews said the Memphis startup event was driven by about 13 local entrepreneurs, including himself, who sought to "capture lightning in a bottle." The result, he said, was the a newly defined community of entrepreneurs who now believe "Memphis can actually build real ventures that have high-growth potential."

Asked whether he would recommend the undertaking to the Nashville business community, Mathews said emphatically, "Yes," and added there's no question in his mind the weekend has proven valuable for Memphis.

Mathews would probably know:  In addition to his earlier work at the Fedex Institute for Technology at the University of Memphis, he is a co-founder and managing member of Mercury Technology Labs, which makes Angel investments and helps incubates new companies.

He stressed that in Memphis the Startup Weekend effort is not an isolated undertaking: Pro-venture groups like EmergeMemphis and LaunchMemphis have recently held other complementary events, including a Venture Forum that's taking place today and, later this month, a BootCamp offering insights and tips for startup teams, next weekend.

Mathews explained the Memphis Startup Weekend event was designed, staged and executed in less than five months, and required less than $7,000 in sponsorships.

Participants will reconvene for a reunion in August, Mathews said. At that time they'll report on 14 issues that various subgroups have been studying since the Startup Weekend ended. One venture -- Spynnr.com, a portal for Ultimate Frisbee enthusiasts -- was the direct product of the weekend. The rudimentary Spynnr site is now being refined and its business potential is being evaluated further. ♦

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Tags: Emerge Memphis, Eric Mathews, innovation, Mercury Technology Labs, spinnr.com, Startup Weekend


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