Meet Resource Partner CO.LAB

Meet Resource Partner CO.LAB

CO.LAB CEO Marcus Shaw

Chattanooga is home to a diverse and ambitious community of entrepreneurs and small business owners. From local restaurants to global tech companies, our region believes in the power of entrepreneurship. Since 2010, CO.LAB has worked to increase the capability and viability of startups in the region, by connecting entrepreneurs to experts, resources, and community.  We have led dozens of programs and accelerators, working with over 500 companies across the business spectrum, and hundreds of mentors. Our companies have created thousands of jobs, raised over $250 million, and made Chattanooga one of the top regions in the country to start a business. As we look to the next 10 years, we are excited to build upon this  momentum  with an incredible network of regional partners. 

At CO.LAB our entrepreneurial framework focuses on the activities, tools, and objectives that position businesses for success. The activities for all business owners is about building products and services, managing staff and operations, and selling to customers. Objectives are always about increasing customers, increasing capital, and increasing capacity. However, the secret sauce is the toolkit. Building a toolkit focused on increasing confidence, knowledge, and relationships that can help entrepreneurs and small-business owners be successful, creates more resilient operators and businesses. 

Our framework applies to any and all industries. The artist, who is looking for ways to monetize her talent, and needs guidance in building her customer base. The manufacturing company that needs access to capital to increase production or the tech company that needs a pipeline of local talent to scale software development. For early stage entrepreneurs in particular, building one’s toolkit is directly related to their ability to achieve their objectives.  

One example of CO.LAB’s support of entrepreneur toolkits in the CO.LAB Capital Network. The establishment of the CO.LAB Capital Network has helped entrepreneurs gain access to several capital sources through partnerships with financing organizations including, KIVA and TVFCU. Working with our partners and business owners we find the right “capital fit” for businesses, while increasing entrepreneurs’ understanding of financing and relationship-building with banks, investors and grant makers.  The net effect is increased confidence for business owners and a more robust ecosystem of capital providers.  For many entrepreneurs access to capital is the most significant barrier; however we believe that similar barriers exist to customer acquisition and capacity building.  Our programs continue to focus on ways to decrease these barriers and build strong toolkits for local business owners.  

CO.LAB is proud to be a Founding Partner of the Starting Block platform. Starting Block brings us together with dozens of organizations in the region to harness the collective power of our resources in one effective and easy to use portal.  This portal will  help entrepreneurs and small-business owners identify the resources they need at the click of a button and increase awareness of resources with which they may not be familiar.  This platform represents a powerful step in ensuring all aspiring and current business owners have access to some of our region’s most valuable tools, regardless of where they live or operate.  The race of entrepreneurship is grueling and rewarding. To ensure everyone is in the best position to run their best race, we are excited to provide a strong starting block.

Written by Marcus Shaw

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