Entrepreneurs, lovers of locally made products and anyone who cares about education will find tons to dig into this Friday at Innovate SAV, a one-day showcase of startups and technologies being built in Savannah.
Expanding on their fan-favorite appearance at January’s Geekend, the Gulfstream Immersive Technologies team will headline the event with a virtual reality panel and showcase, including hands-on demos featuring devices like the Occulous Rift and Microsoft’s HoloLens.
The event will also feature pitches and presentations from a few distinct sectors of Savannah’s innovation community.
First on the roster is the Teach the Future Fellowship. Four groups of public and private school teachers will pitch ideas for bringing innovation into the classroom. For the past year this group has worked with business leaders, technologists and other educators to solve the problems facing our classrooms, and Friday we’ll see the culmination of their work.
We will also hear from several local residents who are building innovative products right here in Savannah. The #MadeinSav Founders Series is a new initiative aimed at spotlighting these entrepreneurs and their wares. These products were pitched last year, or 10 years ago, have made it past the prototyping stage and are now shipping to real customers.
In the student fast-pitch competition, students from Georgia Southern, Armstrong and SCAD will take the stage to pitch their startup ideas. Always a fun and informative event, FastPitch is designed to stimulate discussion and crowd participation.
For the grand finale, the graduates of ATDC’s Startup Bootcamp will pitch to a panel of judges for a $5,000 cash prize to fund their startups. ATDC is a statewide initiative to cultivate high-tech, high-scale startups in Georgia. The Startup bootcamp is a 12-week intensive program in which entrepreneurs articulate, vet, test and rearticulate their ideas over and over until they have something truly worth building. These pitches will give local angel investors, and the rest of us, the first real look at the companies we’ll be watching closely over the next few years.
Local entrepreneurial legends Clegg Ivey and Brian Bason will serve as judges. Clegg’s credentials include raising more than $71 million for multiple startups, successfully litigating the Microsoft antitrust case back in the nineties, and currently serving as GuildMaster at The Guild Hall.
Brian has also been involved in many successful ventures. Most recently he was part of the team that sold Niche, a social marketing startup, to Twitter for an undisclosed-yet-rumored-to-be-hefty amount of money. He’s successfully raised multiple rounds of investment for his current startup Bark, a service that uses machine learning to protect teenagers from online threats.
Innovate SAV is also a great opportunity to visit Bull Street Labs at 2222 Bull St., a new gathering place for local entrepreneurs and technologists. During its first few days of operation it’s already seeing large crowds attend events. TechSAV.co events attracts an eclectic mix of web devs and creatives, Startup Grind pulls in entrepreneurs interested in real world stories from other founders, and 1 Million Cups hosts a wide variety of people who like mixing coffee and business.
New initiatives include smaller meetup groups, like the Savannah Game Makers. They met last week and attracted lots of folks interested in how games work and how to make them for a living. The crowd included professionals, hobbyists and even students from our local STEM middle school.
Another meetup just getting off the ground is Make It Mobile, a group of experienced and aspiring developers interested in building and marketing iOS and Android apps. In fact, their first meeting is April 19 at 6 p.m. at Bull Street Labs, so come join in and help the group take shape!
If you have an idea for a group that would help bring together creatives or technologists in the area to reinforce our local innovation economy, please let us know at The Creative Coast. We can help you get the word out and offer you a place to meet. That’s all it takes to start, and if we do more starting we can grow innovation in Savannah at a much faster pace.
Blake Ellis is a board member with The Creative Coast, a non-profit organization supporting local innovators which is made possible by the City of Savannah and the Savannah Economic Development Authority. Blake and has been involved in dozens of Savannah-based start-ups including Color Maria, CommerceV3, Rails Machine and RappidApp. Blake can be found online via Twitter at @blakeellisjr or LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/blakeellis.