News Column

Startup Memphis: Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Exhibits Sustainability, Growth

Feb 18, 2013

James Dowd

As attendees at the recent Everywhereelse.co -- The Startup Conference discovered, the Memphis entrepreneurial ecosystem is thriving and sprouting new shoots all over the place.

And while national media in the last few weeks highlighted some of our more visible offerings -- the EmergeMemphis and LaunchYourCity organizations, the Seed Hatchery and ZeroTo510 initiatives, and digital powerhouse Nibletz.com that's headquartered here -- another homegrown entrepreneurial support system is also worthy of attention.

That would be the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, located in the FedEx Institute of Technology at the University of Memphis. The center's assistant director, Kelly Penwell, has made great strides in the past 18 months in offering myriad free programs for aspiring entrepreneurs and guiding the launch of nearly three dozen startups.

"We've been under the radar, but with the success of our entrepreneurs I think people are becoming more aware of who we are and what we do," Penwell said.

To showcase some of its entrepreneurs, the center will host the "Invitation to Innovation" expo from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday at FedEx Institute of Technology, 365 Innovation. The event will feature exhibits from startups that are affiliated with the center and programs to help budding business owners.

There's no cost to attend, but organizers would like to know how many to expect, so if you want to go, add your name to the list at invitationtoinnovation.eventbrite.com.

For all you creative thinkers out there -- and this means anyone with an innovative idea that could be patented -- it's vital to become educated on changes in patent law requirements that go into effect on March 16.

The America Invents Act, which Congress passed more than a year ago, alters how patents will be awarded in the future. Instead of the traditional first-to-invent standard, patents will now be granted on a first-to-file basis and the implications for entrepreneurs can't be overstated.

To help local patent-seekers navigate what likely will become very busy waters, a seminar explaining new patent laws will be held from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at Rhodes College, in the McCallum Ballroom in the Bryan Life Center, 2000 North Parkway.

Featured presenter will be Bill Parks, an attorney with Wyatt, Tarrant and Combs and founder and chairman of the Memphis Bar Association's Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law section.

"Some are calling this the most significant change ever to American patent law," Parks said.

The seminar is free and open to the public. No registration is required. For information, contact Parks at 901-537-1000 or e-mailbparks@wyattfirm.com.

Not to miss for the artrepreneurs and digital designers is "Designers + Startups," a series of five brief presentations illustrating the importance of design in launching and growing a business.

Sponsored by the local AIGA chapter, the program will begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at EmergeMemphis, 516 Tennessee. Following the presentations, there will be a networking session with AIGA designers and members of the 2013 Seed Hatchery cohort.

Admission is free for AIGA members, $10 for all others. To reserve a seat, visit aigamemphisspeakerseries.eventbrite.com.

On Wednesday, check out "The Biggest Industry No One Considers and How It Affects Your Bottom Line," sponsored by the Sales and Marketing Society of the Mid-South, featuring Memphis International Raceway's Kate Armitage.

The event will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Crescent Club, 6075 Poplar. Admission is free for SMS members, $25 for guests who pay online or $30 for those who pay at the door. Seating is limited, registration is required and deadline is 3 p.m. Tuesday. To learn more, visit sms-midsouth.org.

And on Thursday from noon to 1 p.m. at Napa Cafe, 5101 Sanderlin, the Society of Entrepreneurs will host a roundtable discussion with two of the organization's 2012 inductees, Independent Bank founders Chip Dudley and Susan Stephenson.

Admission is $25; reservations are due by 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Save a spot by visiting soememphis.com.



Source: (c)2013 The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.