Pop-up accelerator designed to launch local companies

Shhh. Listen closely.

What’s that pop-pop-pop you hear?

It’s the sound of entrepreneurial innovation sprouting up all over Memphis.

Pop-ups, in case you haven’t heard, have been gaining popularity across the country and increasingly these short-term operations are creating a buzz in our own community.

Just witness the revival of historic Broad Avenue, bolstered by MEMShop temporary retail sites that have sprung up to encourage shoppers to visit the area, or the MEMFix events that have brought similar attention to the Crosstown business district and the Highland-Walker intersection in the University District.

These enterprises at times may occupy a few hours on a weekend or last up to six months as in the case of several small businesses operating in vacant or underused commercial space on Broad.

And now comes a pop-up accelerator, designed to boost tech-based startups and targeting female and minority entrepreneurs.

As part of its 13-city national tour, the San Francisco-based startup accelerator NewME will host a three-day program beginning Friday to foster the growth of local startups. And even though NewME typically focuses on women and minority creatives, this program is open to anyone with an idea for a company.

The intensive workshop will offer individual coaching and mentoring sessions, as well as group exercises for attendees to network and share ideas. The program wraps up Sunday with Demo Day, a pitch contest with the winner receiving a prize package worth $45,000 in products and services from such companies as Google, Zendesk, and Rackspace and a chance to participate in NewME’s next startup cohort in Silicon Valley in August.

Selena Larson, program director for NewMe, said Memphis was added to the organization’s cross-country tour because of the emerging local entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“We’ve been all over America and people keep talking about Memphis and asking us if we’ve noticed what’s happening in your city,” Larson said from her office in San Francisco. “Memphis is building its brand in entrepreneurial circles as a place where some really cool things are happening, so we decided to add it to our tour and it’s the only city in Tennessee that we’re visiting.”

Now let’s make sure to extend a hearty welcome to the NewMe folks and give them something great to talk about when they continue their tour in Atlanta, Durham, N.C., and Austin, Texas, this summer.

Registration is underway and continues through Wednesday. The program will be held at the FedEx Institute of Technology at the University of Memphis, 365 Innovation, and participation is limited to 100 entrepreneurs. Cost is $99 for entrepreneurs, $49 for students and Start Co. affiliates get a 20-percent discount.

To learn more, visit newmeaccelerator.com/newme-memphis.

Another campaign to support local small-business owners takes place from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday when U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen hosts his annual federal procurement fair at the FedEx Institute of Technology. The program builds on a similar program that Cohen launched in 2010 to help Memphis-area entrepreneurs learn how to bid on and win government contracts.

Representatives from several government agencies, including the U.S. Dept. of Energy and the U.S. Small Business Administration, will be on hand to offer information about how various federal entities operate and the kinds of vendors they hire. Exhibits will feature application materials for small business owners interested in bidding on government jobs and there will be a matchmaking session to align local firms with governmental departments.

The program is free, but registration is requested. To learn more, send an email to <a href=”mailto:cohen.procurement@mail.house.gov” data-mce-href=”mailto:cohen.procurement@mail.house.gov”>cohen.procurement@mail.house.gov</a> or call 901-544-4131.

And for those creatives who want to ensure that their startups or companies distribute the right message in the right space, check out “Doing Digital Media Right” from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday at the Holiday Inn at the University of Memphis, 3700 Central. Sponsored by the Memphis chapter of the American Advertising Federation, the program will feature keynote speaker Lindsey Birkett, account director at Goodway Group. Admission is free for AAF members, $10 for students, $25 for guests and registration is required.

To save your seat, visit www.aafmemphis.org.

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