Back in 2012, I drove down to Nashville from Kentucky in search of a design job, preferably at a creative agency. Instead, I got a golden ticket that I’ve always cherished, and started on a professional path that led me to every other opportunity here since.
In 2012 I met Marcus Whitney, an entrepreneur who worked with several companies through Jumpstart Foundry. Marcus saw a gap in the market that he wished someone would solve. There wasn’t very much regional coverage of young startup companies, especially startups building high-growth tech companies. Beyond that (and perhaps because of that) there were limited seed and early stage capital resources. Marcus, Walker Duncan and I started Southern/alpha graciously backed by Solidus, who included Townes Duncan and Vic Gatto, in 2012 to give a voice to startups across the Southeast.
For three years our team grew to include Jayme Hoffman, David Ledgerwood, and Ashley Eyre-Brammer, writers Ben McIntyre, Brittany McGee, Emily Zara, and several talented freelance writers including Casey and Kaylee York, Chloe Morrison and Adi Raz, intern writers including Alex Bosivert, Chip Hubbard, Ryan McDonald and others, and several guest writers from across the South. Additionally, Southern/alpha formed a board that also included leaders from other city tech hubs. Over the years we had two major events where the community was able to get together. Those events couldn’t have happened without very generous sponsors, judges, volunteers and entrepreneurs willing to pitch an idea.
In 2015, Southern/alpha was acquired by SouthComm Media. I was hired there as well, but decided to step away after receiving an offer working at a startup. While covering other companies, there were times I felt like an outsider looking in, and I wanted to try my hand at helping a tech-focused startup solve a problem and build a high-growth business. I left the blog in the talented and capable hands of Ayumi Bennett, Emily Kubis, Geert De Lombaerde and William Williams, with SouthComm CEO Chris Ferrell and assistant Emily Salisbury, who all supported the blog while it was running.
In 2016, SouthComm gave Southern/alpha back to me. At the time, I was just getting started with a new job at another startup and ultimately felt that Southern/alpha would have to wait. I didn’t really know if anything would happen to it again. I was glad to have it, but I also felt the dream of restarting it slip away as I started focusing on another team and product that mattered a lot to me.
Now, finally, I’m restarting the blog. Since I am a new Mom, I’ve decided to keep things simple for now and start with LaunchLetter, an interview style weekly newsletter. I have other ideas in the pipeline, but let’s see how LaunchLetter goes first.
Southern/alpha is about giving a voice to a community of startups. There have been so many wonderful people involved in its inception, growth, and rebirth. I’d like to especially thank my husband Corey Griggs, my very supportive family, everyone originally involved with Southern/alpha (especially all the cofounders and early backers I mentioned above), my friends Jayme Hoffman and MaRisa Jackson, colleagues Jeff Cornwall, Jamie Bailey, the new LaunchLetter subscribers and the people I’ve interviewed so far, and my old teammates at GameWisp. Thank you so much.
I hope you enjoy what the community is building. I’d love for you to be a part of it. The story belongs to anyone starting a business after all. If you have any feedback, feel free to reach me at kelley at southernalpha dot com.