Now is the Time. Memphis is the Place.

Epicenter Memphis Funnels Fruitful Opportunities For Local Entrepreneurs

Photo: @treborrjones

Whether it’s on the field or on the court, in the for-profit or non-profit world, or [insert whatever contradictions you can come up with here] Memphis wants to see more Memphians win.

Epicenter Memphis fully feels that sentiment. Since 2015, the nonprofit has existed as a hub that helps local entrepreneurs, creators, and organizations build their businesses from the ground up—and their most recently released resource, Investable Memphis, provides a direct pipeline for our startups to secure the kind of capital that’ll keep them going.

“We’re really proud of everything this tool is capable of,” said Jessica Taveau, CEO of Epicenter Memphis. Not only is it a great way for investors to examine our local tech and startup ecosystem, but it’s a source of inspiration for the general public that shows what’s possible in Memphis—that amazing companies can be built by young people right here in the region.”

From artificial intelligence and agtech to music management systems and medical devices, Investable Memphis makes room for financial backers to tap into untapped potential—and thanks to the user functionality that filters between categories like women-owned, Black-owned, minority-owned, and more—this tool takes some of the detective work out  discovering new entrepreneurial endeavors to capitalize on.

“It’s a source of inspiration for the general public that shows what’s possible in Memphis—that amazing companies can be built by young people right here in the region.”

 

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 I firmly believe that because Memphis focuses on the areas that it’s uniquely good at [like agriculture and life sciences] we have one of the most diverse talent pools in entrepreneurship that the nation has seen,” said Kayla Rodriguez Graff, CEO and Co-founder of Sweet Bio, one of Investable Memphis’ 34 featured companies.

Founded in the same year as Epicenter Memphis, Sweet Bio is a “Memphis-based medical device company that harnesses the power of honey to bioengineer a healthier tomorrow.”

With an emphasis on advanced wound-care—and the use of Manuka honey, specifically—the startup has not only reimagined how this natural resource can be used, but is removing the access barrier for those who need it most, i.e. Black and brown communities, and aging loved ones.

“We need startups to focus on disrupting their industries with their products and services,” said Graff. “We don’t need them focusing on the building blocks of the startup, those elemental things. So, to have this coordinated effort to funnel all these investment opportunities into a single ecosystem is critical.”

While tech is the focal point for Investable Memphis, Epicenter Memphis’ resources stretch across industries of all kinds—and assistance comes in many forms; from initial planning to brand building to pitch practice and more.

“We’re talking about the community-based businesses that are real cultural anchors in our neighborhoods—like our barbers or mom-and-pop restaurants—that have a desire for growth, Taveau said. “We’re talking about the traditional businesses that are more B2B suppliers who are the economic drivers of our community looking to hire for lots of jobs. And then there’s the Investable Memphis group—the innovative, high growth, entities that have large amounts of money to raise; who are looking to boost their visibility locally, regionally, and nationally.”

In a city that’s been recognized for it’s growing entrepreneurial market by top-tier organizations like AfroTech, The Center for American Entrepreneurship, and Forbes, Epicenter Memphis along with local organizations—such as The Greater Memphis Chamber, Start Co. Art Up, Arrow Creative, and more—play Poseidon as they calm the uncharted waters these Memphis moguls have to navigate.

“The entrepreneur is at the center of everything Epicenter Memphis does,” Taveau said.”

“In response to the pandemic, we are seeing more people starting businesses across Shelby County and the state of Tennessee, which is pretty normal in a time of economic downturn. Some people are doing it out of necessity while others are moving forward because they’ve now had time to think about that idea they’ve had on the back of the napkin. Either way, all of these tools show the budding entrepreneurs, the business owners, and the investors that there is a community here—and a really supportive one at that.

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