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Automotive Entrepreneurs Get a Boost at Maury County Boot Camp

Entrepreneurs in the auto industry got a chance to give their concepts a test run through the AutoXLR8R program sponsored by the Southern Middle Tennessee Entrepreneur Center (SMTEC) in 2013.

By Nan Bauroth on June 17, 2014

Columbia, TN
Columbia / Jeff Adkins

Entrepreneurs with good ideas for the auto industry got a chance to give their concepts a test run through the AutoXLR8R program sponsored by the Southern Middle Tennessee Entrepreneur Center (SMTEC) in 2013. Held at the Northfield Workforce Development and Conference Center, the 13-week mentor-driven startup accelerator program focused on identifying and commercializing technologies applicable to the automotive industry.

In the 2013 class, 10 companies – seven from Tennessee – received access to a network of industry mentors and $20,000 to launch their venture. Participants toured automotive hot spots in the Southeast, where they met with technical advisors, venture capitalists and other investors. Northfield also hosted a demonstration day for participants to pitch their products to potential investors.

Along with providing entrepreneurs with enough funding and industry support from the ground floor to get their ideas rolling, one of the goals of the program was to help startups develop contacts with public and private investors that would lead them to manufacture their product in Tennessee, according to program director Jack Sisk.

AutoXLR8R arranged early-stage venture capital funding for the Tennessee-based ventures through Nest-TN, which is partially funded by a state-backed fund for startups.

Ideas among participating startups in the boot camp included emission control technology, wireless charging for electric vehicles and the development of graphene – a super-strong lightweight material. Some entrepreneurs even combined their ideas and are working on products with multi-platform applications.

The SMTEC will run a second program in 2014 and is looking at other formats, Sisk says, including an accelerator-on-demand concept that would operate when companies need it.

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