Jumpstart class arrives in a cloud of dust, as Gatto cooks-up Angel move
By Milt Capps updated 1:58 p.m.
BIG DAY for Vic Gatto & Friends: The Solidus partner and Jumpstart Foundry founder this morning announced JSF's new class of entrepreneurs in Nashville.
Also today, Gatto is attending sister-co SeedHatchery's Investor Day in Memphis -- and, apparently, he's continuing to lay plans for a new Angel investor initiative.
Gatto recently confirmed for VNC that he's preparing a new Angel-investor initiative, but he declined to provide details. One VNC source said Gatto would be tieing-up with a TechStars-aligned Angel group, but Gatto and TechStars execs knocked that down when asked about it.
A statewide Angel network might be the gap Gatto seeks to fill, but he's not saying, yet. The Solidus website, meanwhile, speaks of "Solidus Academy" as a "collection" of mentors, coaches, board members and others who allow Solidus to "fill the critically needed function of 'lead angel'." In recent public appearances, Gatto has occasionally commented on the need for investors to compete for quality dealflow, amid a rising volume of opportunities of all grades.
Exploring the issue of rising competition for Angel access to the best startup deals, VNC checked-in not long ago with other local angel-group leaders. VNC found that, while naturally wanting as many strong angels in their own networks as possible, they espoused basically a 'more-the-merrier' view of Angel-group proliferation.
Nashville Capital Network Executive Director Sid Chambless and Angel Capital Group President Rachael Qualls, interviewed separately, held consonant views, and both offered one caveat: New entrants should be well-grounded in the needs of both investors and entrepreneurs, alike; must operate professionally; and, should be open to syndication of deals, when that makes sense.
Gatto oversees not only much of Solidus' venture investing, but also has a big hand in guiding JSF, SeedHatchery (Memphis), VentureINCITE (Knox-OakRidge) and Co.starts (Chattanooga). SeedHatchery's latest six startups are presenting to investors today in Memphis.
Meanwhile, here in Nashville, Jumpstart Foundry is making news with a diverse and seemingly energized phalanx of entrepreneurs, which paraded forth in a sketchy JSF announcement this morning. (Yes, insofar as we can tell, Rachael Qualls is the only woman named in this story. - Ed.)
The JSF class begins work on May 20 and it all ends with pitchday Aug. 23, 2012. Here's what our research has suggested about its members, thus far.
► OurVinyl.com - This vidplay is led by Michael Reuther, a 25-year-old St. Louisan. The venture allows users to discover new music via video clips online. Reuter told VNC he's looking for programmers, has named LBMC his accountants and still scouting for a law firm. His team includes Jordan Schneider (audio engineer), Allen Ralph (creative director), Andrew Fickas (Lead Developer) and Sean Brna (editor), he said.
► Jamplify (was OKDJ.fm) -- Originally a fan-engagement platform (with the Federation of Micronesia domain extension) is led by Andy Pickens, formerly a New York-based Goldman Sachs analyst and a Duke and London School alumnus. The company later focused on ticket tracking and analytics. See subsequent coverage here.
► Evermind - "...first caregiver-friendly senior monitoring system," is about all we've gotten on that, so far. The domain is registered to David Gilbert in Nashville. Gilbert is a former Griffin Technology business-development chief and is now a mentor within Jumpstart Foundry. He maintains a development practice as Saltt.
► Westcrete - Shane Gaddes leads this one and has been developing related ideas for a decade. It "converts traditional building plans into a prefabricated formwork that is shipped to jobsite, erected & pumped full of concrete," says Jumpstart. Gaddes' Linkedin is here.
► Photorankr is the creation of Ohio-based college sophomore Matt Sniff, who confirmed this morning he'll arrive town in a few weeks. He offers a new platform for amateur photography. Gatto told VNC this morning that despite his youth, Sniff has already begun collecting revenue, having thus far invested about $20.
► Wax is a place for extreme athletes to compete by completing "tricks and challenges." Team members Jayme Hoffman (Columbus, Ohio) and Stuart Yamartino apparently first spent some time on a Kickstarter raise attempt, but shut that down just ahead of today's announcement. [Wax was subsequently renamed Kiwi.-Ed.]
► Talkapolis - It microcasts new-media content (mainly talk format) to smart devices, and it is led by John Bransford, based in Nashville. Bransford is a Tulane history grad and has been in a number of HBO, Simon & Schuster and data/tech roles, previously.
► Contigo will provide an alternative to traditional "payday" lenders. The startup is led by soon-to-be Owen MBA Mario Avila, who in January was named a winner of the Jim Sohr Grant via the Owen School of Management at VU. Avila is also a fellow in VU's Cal Turner Program in Moral Leadership in the Professions. Avila is a Dartmouth alum.
► TheSkillery.com is led by 34-year-old Matthew Dudley, with a team of four; it connects teachers and learners, who offer administrative support for offline classes and workshops. Dudley told VNC this morning that Nashville is a great smallish city for testing such a new service.
News on these ventures will be updated by VNC as appropriate. Reader feedback is welcomed. VNC