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TrueStartup: 'SourceYourCity' will beta in Frisco waters, then raise capital
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SourceYourCity (SYC), the Nashville startup that provides expertise clearinghouses for individual cities, is eyeing a third test market: San Francisco.

Pre-revenue SYC observes its first anniversary of business operations this week. It is likely to begin seeking $300K in A-round capital from Angels during 2Q 2012 and informal networking among investors has begun, said SYC founder and President Neely Burks.

In 2010, the SYC concept garnered a $15K stipend while Burks participated in Jumpstart Foundry's inaugural 2010 incubator class. Burks currently contracts-out for technology services; and, she continues to work part-time as a copywriter in the Nashville office of Memphis-based Sullivan Branding. Burks estimates her "sweat equity" investment in SYC at $40K, this morning.

For now, the SYC service is free to all users while it is in beta; eventually, public-relations agencies and similar organizations are to pay the freight, she explained.

Not later than March 31, SYC/Nashville will make the paid-subscription transition, she said.

Neely Burks

Burks, 27, said her beta operations in the Nashville and Austin regions seem promising. In Middle Tennessee, an estimated 700 business entities are represented by 300 PR professionals and 200 individual experts, she said this morning. SYC has also signed-up 50 Nashville-area journalists and other content producers. Registered local source-offerors include Vanderbilt University and the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, according to SYC material posted online.

In Austin, SYC has signed 20 journalists and 100 PR/expert users, Burks told VNC. SYC will soon add featured content, more resources for professionals and other services, she noted.

San Francisco is likely to launch in March. Burks' plans for that market call for naming a part-time community manager, who will help get the service in front of potential users and experts in the Bay Area, she explained.

The SanFran market entry will not only give Neely a test in a large metro area, but also proximity to Bay Area investors, she said. SYC community managers may prove to be interim 12- to 24-month appointments; the community function is likely to be rolled back into corporate after each new market presence is established, said Burks.

SYC's national competitors include Vocus' HelpAReporterOut (HARO) and ProfNet, a service of PRNewswire, Burks acknowledged. Burks said she believes SYC's advantage lies in its local-market focus.

Other de facto competitors in SYC's initial markets include expert and newstip services from Vanderbilt, the University of Texas (UT) and the University of California (UC) system, VNC research suggests.
Burks said she has recruited seven mentors for SYC: Vic Gatto (Solidus, Jumpstart), Nick Yaeger (CheckedIn), David Ross (Music Row), Chris McIntyre (change:healthcare), Drew Fassett (Peak10), Matt Largen (Williamson County ECD) and John Mark Jansen (an Orego-based consultant dba Pinky Gonzales).

Burks noted that Jumpstart earlier sponsored her for a 3-month period in residence at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center. There, she said, opportunities to compare notes on-the-fly with both mentors and startup peers to be extremely valuable.

Prior to forming SYC and working for Sullivan Branding, Burks was a communications coordinator for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and an account executive for Katcher Vaughn & Bailey Public Relations (KVBPR).

Burks earned her bachelor's in advertising (concentration: public relations) in 2006 at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Burks' grandfather founded Burke-Hall Paints, a manufacturer, she said. VNC


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Tags: advertising, Angel investors, beta, change:healthcare, CheckedIn, Chris McIntyre, David Ross, Drew Fassett, economic development, Help A Reporter Out, John Mark Jansen, Jumpstart Foundry, Katcher Vaughn & Bailey Public Relations, KVBPR, marketing, Matt Largen, media, Music Row, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Nashville Entrepreneur Center, Neely Burks, Nick Yaeger, Peak10, Pinky Gonzales, PRNewswire, ProfNet, public relations, Solidus, SourceYourCity, Sullivan Branding, SYC, University of California, University of Tennessee, University of Texas, Vanderbilt University, Vic Gatto, Vocus, Williamson County

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