Lamp Post Group Blog

A 48-Hour Challenge

partners workingAfter 48 Hour Launch last weekend, we only have one question— how can we get that much done every day?

If you aren’t familiar with 48 Hour Launch, it’s a yearly event that brings together talented, creative, motivated people from across Chattanooga to develop and launch startup concepts in just two days. It involves a whole lot of caffeine, collaboration and grit, and the winner gets a package of funding and business services from organizations all over the city. It’s amazing to see what ideas come out of each year’s theme, which tend to be focused on addressing some kind of civic need.

The atmosphere at 48 Hour Launch is similar to that at Lamp Post Group. There’s the cross-pollination, the buzzing excitement, the enthusiasm, and the big ideas. There’s the problem-solving, the energy, and the hard work. Seeing firsthand how much happened at 48 Hour Launch has us newly inspired— startups emerged with fleshed out business plans and new connections.

Joda Thongnopnua, who works for LPG startup WayPaver, attended 48 Hour Launch and summed up why it’s so inspiring. “At WayPaver and Lamp Post Group we are encouraged to take risks and push our respective fields forward in the space of talent or technology or economic development,” he said. “48 Hour Launch is a microcosm of that. It takes a lot to show up in one weekend, put an idea on the line and risk it failing.”

We work hard at Lamp Post every day to turn ideas into reality and give smart, passionate entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Sure, our runways are a lot longer than just forty eight hours, and there are bigger numbers at stake, but the core idea is the same. Get good people together, develop awesome ideas, and do it all on a timeline that forces you to get shit done.

As the 48 Hour Launch organizers know, that approach isn’t just good business- it’s also great way to solve real world problems and tackle community issues. Our only question at Lamp Post Group this week is how can we learn from 48 Hour Launch and work even harder?  After all— there’s no better motivation than working every day like you have just forty eight hours to change the world.

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Passion for Chattanooga and its future

Lamp Post was featured in the Times Free Press for the future it holds in Chattanooga.

Full article.

LPG office“It’s an unfailing devotion to the idea that with enough collective wisdom, hard work and financial opportunity, new businesses can grow in Chattanooga.”

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Chattanooga startup Access America’s deal with Coyote creates $2 billion freight giant

Chattanooga’s fastest-growing business of the past decade will combine with an even faster-growing rival to create one of America’s biggest freight and truck management services with sales expected to top $2 billion this year.

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2014/mar/19/sale-creates-2-billion-freight-giant/

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Shelley’s Latest Post for INC.

Shelley Prevost’s latest article for Inc. Magazine is about how gamification gives employees a sense of purpose!

Ambition has the potential to overhaul company culture by instilling a deeper sense of purpose–even across mundane, repetitive tasks.”

Check out the full article.

gamification

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Hosting the Social Media King

Gary Vaynerchuk, a leader in social media and entrepreneurship, will be in Chattanooga on May 13.

Lamp Post is hosting Vaynerchuk at the downtown IMAX Theater at 7 p.m.

The event is invite only.

For media passes, please email Rachel Hanson at rachel.hanson@lamppostgroup.com.

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Ambition in Tech Crunch

Proud day for Ambition and Lamp Post Group. The team at Ambition has worked extremely hard to get to this point. We are proud of all their work at Y Combinator. And this is only the beginning.

http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/21/ambition-launch/

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 4.06.47 PM

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Why We Moved To Chattanooga

In September of 2012, we drove to Chattanooga to meet with Ted Alling, a serial entrepreneur, partner at the Lamp Post Group,  and co-founder of Access America Transport. We grew up with Ted’s little brother so we knew of Ted’s success. We were seeking his advice on how to recruit and manage technical talent for our team. By the end of the meeting we had a standing offer to join the venture incubator at Lamp Post. Striking up a venture deal was the last thing on our mind when we set out for Chattanooga.

Now all we had to do was move to Chattanooga, which besides this meeting, we haven’t been to since we visited Rock City when we were ten years old. You’ve got to understand, we all have wives, mortgages, lives to handle. The idea of uprooting and moving to a new city was insane! Our previous lives weighed heavy on one side of our conscience while the future of our company sat hefty on the other. We decided to come back one sunny afternoon a week later and soak up the city. What we experienced couldn’t be explained, it was almost euphoric.  With every step on its historic Walnut Street bridge, we crossed from the end of one life into the beginning of another. We just knew this was where we needed to be. Our wives may not have understood it at the time, but since moving, we haven’t once regretted our decision. Every day our company is given the resources and opportunity to grow and thrive in this beautiful city.

What we can testify since we’ve been here:

Tech Talent — Our company has grown from 0 programmers to a team of 6 highly intelligent and hardworking tech guys in less than a year. Chattanooga was the first city in its hemisphere to have a gig of internet available to any resident or business. Lamp Post hosts a weekly tech talk in our office where we gather these geniuses from around the area to talk about things ranging from modern computational theories to the meaning of the universe. Depth.

Startup Community — The startup scene here is one of the closest knit communities, period. Everyone legitimately cares about each other and improving the city of Chattanooga in the process. A lot of startups are doing some really cool things. A kick-started company called Variable Technologies is changing the face of the “Internet of things” with their invention, the NODE. Quick-Que just sold their table waiting app for multiple millionsSouthtree is blowing the face off digitizing old photos and videos. Ambition is gamifying the sales world with a “fantasy football for sales” environment creating culture built off competition. You can check out the scene at NoogaStartups.com. I also wanted to mention the multiple sources and opportunities for funding. There’s the aforementioned Lamp Post Group, the Chattanoogan Renaissance Fund, and the the Company Lab among others.

City Leadership — I’ve never seen a city where all of its residents are dedicated to making Chattanooga the greatest city to live. It’s contagious. I think this starts with city leadership. Our mentors at Lamp Post Group like Ted Alling, Allan Davis, Barry Large, Shelley Prevost, Jack Studer and Miller Welborn want nothing more than this city to be the epicenter of the South. River City Company has does some incredible things for the city and has some very accomplished projects. The Mayor, Andy Berke, has made a commitment to entrepreneurship in the city. Everyone feeds off of everyone’s energy and it’s really incredible to be apart of this growing and progressive community.

Vibrant Downtown — I live downtown. Everyone in our company lives downtown. Just about everyone we know lives downtown. I personally don’t remember the last time I used my car because everything is within walking distance. There are also tons of awesome things that happen downtown. We’ve found that there isn’t a weekend from May until the end of October where there isn’t some type of free concert or event happening in the downtown area. The area lures people like some odysseian syren, forcing the most boring people to enjoy themselves. Every Sunday, there’s a market full of locally sourced food and art. There’s the the world-renown Riverbend that happens for half of June. We’re also extremely excited about the new High Point Climbing Gym and Chattanooga Whiskey’s new creation, the Tennessee Stillhouse.  We wanted to credit The River City Company for bringing excitement to the downtown with the Aquarium, the Block, and Nightfall.

Outdoor Capital of the World — Yes, I’m not even close to exaggerating. From the thousands of miles of hiking trails, to the world-class whitewater, to the best rock in the south-east, Chattanooga is known for it’s outdoor activities. It’s already been named the best outdoor city by multiple outdoor magazines, one of them being the highly credible Outside Magazine. For us personally, we’ve recently purchased a pontoon boat (she’s a real beaut) and frequent the river that runs through downtown quite often. Wild times.

Cost of Living — Chattanooga is about 16% less than the national average when it comes to cost of living. I don’t even want to think about how it compares to San Francisco. Here, your cash goes a long way. It really allows you to survive for a much longer time than you would have in any other city. Just saying, one of our employees pays maybe $300 a month on rent and utilities.

In our 15 short months, we’ve grown, learned and accomplished a great deal. Our team of 3 has grown to 14 with an incredibly talented tech team and experienced sales team. We operated in 47 cities in 2013, employing about 2000 part-time students. We’ve undergone a massive expansion and are currently operational in 115+ cities in 42 states, employing about 10,000+ part-time students. We wanted to extend an invite to any startups in town looking for advice or any startups that are considering moving here to call or come visit us anytime, and we wanted to thank Chattanooga and its people for helping with the cause as we can safely say that we wouldn’t be where we are today without Chattanooga as our supporting cast.

Sincerely,

- Stephen Vlahos, Cameron Doody & Matt Patterson (Bellhops)

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Are You an Attacker or Defender?

Steve Case, former founder of AOL and many other successful businesses just said at a conference, “There are two kinds of companies: attackers and defenders,” Case said Thursday, during an interview on a sunny hotel terrace in Menlo Park, Calif., where he was visiting. “Entrepreneurs are attackers, and people in Fortune 500 companies are defenders.” “Business schools teach their students to “de-risk,” he said. After all, the companies they join have the most to defend, while “innovation will come from the attackers.”

Where do we fall? Are we trying to defend off competitors or are we slaying the competition. We have to devote everything, we have to stay in attack mode. We have to provide the expert service customer’s truly deserve and take market share from the defenders in the process. We have to be more aggressive than any other company in the country. Most people sit on their laurels; we choose to aggressively take market share. Let’s get it on!

-Ted Alling

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GigTank Summer Recap

Hello, everyone, this is Cintia from the student Gig Tank.

I spent last summer in Chattanooga, Tennessee, helping develop new ideas on applications for the 1-gigabit-per-second, ultra-high-speed Internet that is available there.

Chattanooga is a very special city. It is the first city in the whole country to have ultra-high-speed Internet available for all residents. This is actually making Chattanooga stand out in the crowd. It is starting to attract new residents, business opportunities, entrepreneurs, and needs, along with progress. In addition to that, there is another thing that makes Chattanooga unique: the passion from its residents. The Gig Tank came from both of these special features combined. The need for new business opportunities and a will to make the city go forward was the fuse needed for it to start.

During the summer, we came a long way. We started by doing research and finding out how much we could do with the Internet. Then, groups started to form. New ideas were also pitched every week, and we started to see them evolving. Week after week, we were thinking not only about the idea itself, but also from a business standpoint. What makes it different? What can be changed? What is new? How can we make money with it? And even with the Internet being one of (if not the most) up-to-date means of communication, we found that it is really hard to keep up with the latest technologies and coming up with something totally unique.

On top of that, we had to present it in a way people could understand. By the end of the week, it was not only about the idea itself, it was about how well we could impress people with it, how make people like it and get confident about it. It was really easy to feel lost and confused on what path to take and what direction to go. And the fact that in the beginning we could pitch about anything in the world made things even more broad and disconcerting.

The environment was really good for new ideas. Collaboration was incentivized, but at the same time, competition made the pitches go forward and improved day after day. Sometimes, public speaking can be scary, even for people who are used to it. For those who are used to speaking about things that they are proficient in (knowledge that was learned and mastered along the years), experiencing new thoughts and different kinds of information can be a hurdle. The fact that we had to present our ideas and be asked about them every week was a good way to practice for Demo Day, and it helped to overcome this barrier. Also, presenting weekly about something that you do not know about forces you to get enough knowledge to understand at least the basics of that particular subject. As the program was coming to its end, it was easy to notice that every reachable thing was provided for us to be creative: hardware, environment, housing, a good cup of coffee … which makes sense in the end. If you do not have to worry about essential things, you have more time to spend brainstorming and having new ideas.

The last week was the most stressful and the most memorable at the same time. Every single detail could turn out to be a major problem, the difference between making a good or a bad presentation. We practiced, practiced, and practiced. And even with planning and specifying everything, some details are just out of our control.

Demo Day was an expected event and yet a big surprise. Things did not come out as we planned, especially in our presentation, but it turned out to be a good thing. Demo Day attracted VCs, angel investors, entrepreneurs, and reporters to a unique experience: to turn their eyes to the South, see Chattanooga growing, and be part of it. I was really happy that those people in the audience wanted to participate, to know, and to do whatever they thought would be helpful to keep Chattanooga evolving. With all the obstacles and difficulties, by the end of the summer, it was a program from Chattanooga and to Chattanooga.

I hope new editions can become better and that people from all over the country can join and get to know Chattanooga in its hunt for entrepreneurship and development.

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GigTank Week One Recap

Hello, everyone! This is Cintia from the student GigTank.

My first week in this beautiful city of Chattanooga, TN has been fabulous. Thanks for your hospitality, Chattanoogans! The weather is wonderful. The landscape is breathtaking, and entertainment is everywhere!

We started our week with a hearty breakfast and an introduction from each student. Each of us is different in our backgrounds, but we are excited about the future and the new technologies that are to come.

The first morning we worked through discussions about our skills, areas of interest, possible applications, problems we may face, ideas for the future, and strength finding, to name a few. It turns out, we all found out a lot about what we can do in the near future and what we can do to make people’s lives better!

Throughout the week, we had meetings, presentations, research time, dinners, and finally on Friday, we had our first idea pitch.

Friday morning we were excited, yet also nervous, about our first pitch. Many thought-provoking ideas came about for the 1Gbps ultra-high speed Internet, and by the end of the afternoon, Ustin, a fellow GigTank student, had won the best pitch of the day. He was rewarded with the opportunity to exit the tank and begin building a team. Congratulations, Ustin!

Being in an environment where ideas for the future, entrepreneurship, innovation, and new technological ideas are stimulated is a great experience for me. This is the part of the business world we do not get taught at school. A good background is without a doubt very important for the future, but it is also imperative to have good ideas. Right now, we are experiencing a new way to see the future where everything will become possible!

I am encouraged by the approval from the population we have received concerning new, somewhat futuristic, ideas. On Saturday as we were recognized at the Chattanooga Futbol Club soccer match, I could see hope for us to bring innovation and progress to this town. This makes me feel like I can actually do something important for the people.

Finally, I think that teamwork is encouraged. You can do a good job by yourself, but it is the interaction between different areas that make your idea come true. It is the synergy that makes the difference!

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