Eric Mathews, Founder and co-President of Memphis-based Launch Your City, is no stranger to entrepreneurship. His family owns a very successful steel door business based in Little Rock, Arkansas. But rather than falling into the security of the family-run business, Mathews,a chemistry student at the time, wanted to be his own entrepreneur. Better than that, he saw, through entrepreneurship, ways to give back to the community, becoming a “social entrepreneur” of sorts before it was the cool hipster thing to do.
In his early 20′s, Mathews became the assistant director at the Fedex Institute of Technology, an academic and tech initiative at the University of Memphis.That wasn’t enough, though. Mathews wanted to help launch companies and startups in Memphis without a tie in to the University. He wanted anyone with a good idea to be able to benefit from an entrepreneurship program. So in 2006 he took the plunge and started the organization that became Launch Your City.
“Iteration trumps perfection,” an “Eric-ism” oft-repeated in Memphis’ startup circles, is a motto that Mathews practices as well as preaches. Launch Your City has seen a slew of iteration over the past 7 years and continues to evolve today.
While choosing a name that would easily transition to startup communities and ecosystems in any city, Mathews honed it in to Memphis by officially launching LaunchMemphis, a division of LaunchYour City, in 2008.
Over the next few years, Andre Fowlkes grew tired of the investment banking and private equity landscape on both coasts and started looking for opportunities to return home. In late 2010 the native Memphian and son of Federal Court Judge John Fowlkes gave up the private equity and investment career and the salary that went with it. After meeting Mathews he realized that Launch Your City is where he wanted to be.
Those who know them know that Mathews is very analytical, quiet, and a little introverted. Fowlkes on the other hand is very outgoing, a relationship builder and connector. With his outgoing personality and business acumen, Fowlkes was the perfect complement for Mathews. In 2011 they became co-presidents of the organization that now oversees Launch Memphis, Seed Hatchery, Upstart, Memphis Venture Mentors, and Wolf River Angels.
With their plates filling up fast and so many different names to keep track of, Fowlkes and Mathews went to work with local agency and huge startup supporter archer>malmo* on re-branding. What began as a project to subtly adjust their branding and message came together as a whole new brand that’s more reflective of the future for the organization.
Today, as Fowlkes kicked off the Seed Hatchery 2013 Investor Day, they revealed the new branding for the organization as Start Co.
The new name and branding fit the overall goals much better, putting everything together in one easy to remember and understand brand. The three lines of effort for the organization remain in tact.
*disclosure, archer>malmo holds an equity interest in Nibletz through their a>m ventures arm.