CO.LAB is relaunching its GIGTANK accelerator program to bring together a cohort of six startups from the private sector. The program has researchers from the university setting that work with IoT, Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, Smart Cities, VR/AR, Big Data Analytics and E-Gaming technologies to apply a robust set of resources to scale projects.
Name of Accelerator: GIGTANK
Location: Chattanooga, Tennessee
CEO / Managing Director: Marcus Shaw
This article is part of our Startup Accelerator Spotlight featuring accelerators from around the world. We hope these spotlights will assist the entrepreneur should they consider attending an accelerator.
In two sentences or less, tell us about your accelerator and its objectives?
The Company Lab (CO.LAB), is located in Chattanooga, which is the home of America’s first metro-wide gigabit internet network provided by EPB Fiber Optics. CO.LAB is relaunching its GIGTANK accelerator program to bring together a cohort of six startups from the private sector.
The program has researchers from the university setting that work with IoT, Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, Smart Cities, VR/AR, Big Data Analytics and E-Gaming technologies to apply a robust set of resources to scale projects. Through classroom and consulting sessions with our Entrepreneur-in-Residence and mentors, CO.LAB’s team will measure our success by helping startups identify obstacles and take actionable steps to accelerate growth.
Why is your accelerator program unique? Please describe the benefits of participation in your program.
First, we are in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which was rated as the Best Town Ever in 2015 by Outside Magazine. CO.LAB is a nonprofit entity. GIGTANK takes no equity from our companies. This allows us to have a strong competitive edge in sourcing strong mentors, helping the teams to access capital from a range of channels, and establishing a pipeline for talent. In addition to this, GIGTANK provides housing to participants, courtesy of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, as well as a collaborative workspace in the heart of Chattanooga’s Innovation District.
Above all, our fiber network and corporate partners, from EPB to Oak Ridge National Laboratories, provide a sandbox for participants to test, iterate, and scale their technology. GIGTANK concludes with a demo day where community members and investors are invited to watch the team members pitch their projects.
What is the most difficult part of working with startups?
Something we think about is bringing in more tech talent. Participants need a niche or specialized expertise in a specific functionality, and because of this CO.LAB must rely on partnerships with regional universities like Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, and the University of Tennessee Chattanooga to fill the need.
What do you enjoy the most; what do you find most appealing about working with entrepreneurial startups?
The most exciting aspect of our work at GIGTANK is the diversity of thought and demographics of entrepreneurs inside Chattanooga’s ecosystem. Something we continue to see is the consistency of not only their creativity but also their commitment to “The Chattanooga Way,” a blend of thoughtful collaboration and stewardship.
Tell us about your success stories; Which are the most interesting companies to have participated in your program?
- Branch Technology received a grant from NASA to build 3D-printed large-scale structures for Mars.
- Collider & Rapid RMS are participants in Techstars Atlanta 2017 Accelerator.
- Pass It Down is a top 8 company to watch in 2018.
What are the three most important factors startup entrepreneurs should consider when contemplating attending an accelerator?
- Equity: Does the accelerator take equity? Are you getting a deal that you are comfortable with?
- Resources: What types of resources can the accelerator provide? What is the city in which it is located known for? Is the ecosystem supportive and collaborative?
- Attention: Do you want a more hands-on, boutique/bespoke experience?
Giving Away Startup Ownership: How Much Is Too Much?
What else would you like to share?
GIGTANK, as well as our other summer accelerator, Consumer Goods, which is a mixed cohort of food and beverage and outdoor brands, began on May 15, 2018. The programs last 11 weeks and accumulate in Demo Day on July 26, 2018. Teams pitch their companies and provide an overview of their progress throughout the program.
Are you familiar with accelerators you believe should be spotlighted? If so, we would like to hear from you. Tell us about them in the comments below.