Giving Back: Start Co.

Giving Back: Start Co.

Start Co. exists to help create an environment where entrepreneurs feel they can take risks in Memphis. The organization uses a variety of accelerators that take a business from seed stage to funding and eventual launch. Those business accelerators include Upstart, Sky High, and Launch Delta Home Services Accelerator.


As part of the Summer of Acceleration, Upstart is an accelerator track for female founders to engage in curriculum specifically for women-led tech startups. It’s open this year to female founders across all verticals, meaning women in logistics, home services and medical devices all can participate. Sky High is an accelerator for EdTech startups, a particularly important effort in a city that many consider ground zero for education reform. With its inaugural cohort, the newest accelerator is Launch Delta Home Services Accelerator. Powered by ServiceMaster and Start Co., it targets technology-based startup companies that work in the home services sector. The Summer of Acceleration began May 7 and runs until August 16th with Demo Day.


The accelerator this year includes six home service teams that have come from around the world, and for 100 days go through the Summer of Acceleration. “ServiceMaster is unique in that they have looked at startups as opportunities,” said Katie Milligan, chief of staff for Start Co. “A lot of companies in their Fortune 1000 position are adverse to work with startups, so this is something special. We [Start Co.] focus on how you accelerate your business, take your idea and delve into the nuances of growing a business in a short amount of time. ServiceMaster has layered on a home services specific curriculum.”


In addition to working with corporations such as ServiceMaster, Start Co. is also working in partnership with the City of Memphis, which in late May announced The 800 Initiative, a program designed to empower minority-owned businesses in Memphis while increasing equity in the city’s economy. It’s made possible by a $500,000 allocation in the city’s budget, as well as a $1 million, four-year commitment by FedEx. Start Co., Christian Brothers University and Epicenter, which are lead partners and will provide strategy and programming assistance.


The Propel program, for minority firms that have at least $250,000 in annual revenue and have been in existence for at least three years, has kicked off programming for The 800. Applications are open through July 30 for the program that starts July 31 and runs for 12 weeks on Tuesday evenings.


“The main premise of The 800 is that Memphis has approximately 39,000 minority firms with 800 of those having more than one employee,” Milligan said. “What we’re trying to do is increase that number of 800, both by giving them capacity and understanding and helping them grow their businesses, so they’re at a place to hire more than just themselves, in addition to finding new firms.”


For more information about Start Co., its accelerators or events, go to


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