LaunchYourCity develops the entrepreneurs and their business models that drive an innovation economy. We work to empower entrepreneurial action, reduce barriers to success, and build Memphis as a venture city that elevates both talent and high growth startup companies. Through management of three signature programs we help grow our region's economic base and create the jobs of tomorrow.
The Great Recession has crystallized where the country has been heading for the last 20 years; an economy no longer of static manufacturing and industrialization, but one of innovation and a dynamic approach to job creation. All net new job growth has come from high growth entrepreneurial companies in the last 30 years according to the Kauffman Foundation Research Series "High Growth Firms and the Future of the American Economy"- 2010. As a result we have seen the United States make a strong commitment to entrepreneurship and innovation with governments, foundations, and the private sector making a shift to investing in these areas.
Memphis is no exception to the need for entrepreneurship and innovation, and statistically speaking lagging the majority of the country. Memphis once known for the first self-service grocery store and revolutionizing how the world delivers packages, the city must join the rest of the nation by committing more resources to cultivating tomorrow's Piggly Wiggly's and FedEx's.
In the past Memphis has lacked in the cultivation of the early stage entrepreneur from the idea development stage through successful launch with follow-on capital. Up until 4 years ago Memphis possessed zero assets whose core competency was to nurture early stage entrepreneurs. LaunchYourCity (at the time LaunchMemphis) was established just for this reason by Eric Mathews who structured this 501©3 non- profit for the sole purpose of providing resources such as mentoring, programming, and free co-working facility usage. LaunchMemphis identified that this process of assistance and getting entrepreneurs to take real actionable steps to starting up businesses was working; however added acceleration was needed and Seed Hatchery was formed. This mentorship driven cohort for startup companies provides $15,000 in seed funding and an intense three month bootcamp with mentoring, technical assistance, and business connections to eventually crystallize their businesses for introductions to funding sources. A great tandem between LaunchMemphis and Seed Hatchery was formed; between the two 2,100 entrepreneurial connections have been made connecting entrepreneurs with resources, education, programming, dollars, mentors, team members, etc. 168 entrepreneurs have been groomed, eleven startups have received seed or angel funding, and 25% of the platform's entrepreneurs are minorities and women. Angel funding has been the Achilles heel to Memphis's startup community and this is considered the most vital stage for validation to secure larger venture capital. Thus Wolf River Angels has been created and is in the process of growing an angel network to educate and engage accredited investors for investing in local startup companies. LaunchYourCity (LYC) has evolved to managing LaunchMemphis, Seed Hatchery, and soon to be Wolf River Angels. This is the solution to creating more high growth companies for the Memphis area; LYC's focus on the early stage entrepreneur creates viable businesses who then can take advantage of the later stage entrepreneurial resources Memphis has to offer.
In addition to LaunchYourCity's focus on creating startups, the organization strongly believes that the innovative skill-sets learned through entrepreneurship can be applied to professionals and aspiring students working in non-profits and government to small businesses and corporate America. The organization further seeks to open space for entrepreneurs by reducing political, social, and economic barriers; currently LYC's effort with University of Memphis's University College is changing the way entrepreneurship and higher education co-exist. Also the organizations work with JumpStart Inc (based in Cleveland) is securing technical and financial resources for the Memphis community.
LaunchYourCity is building resources for further growth, and is looking to add to the multitude of resource support it has garnered thus far; City of Memphis, State of Tennessee, JumpStart America, Harvard Kennedy School, EDGE, Emerge Memphis, Memphis ED, Downtown Commission, Baker Donelson, A>M Ventures, Loeb Properties, etc. LYC seeks to increase its support to fulfill its quest to create innovative jobs and elevate talent producing regional innovation.