Massage therapy, candle-making, hot sauce manufacturing, consulting – you name it and you can probably find a business doing it in the INCubator. A program of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, the INCubator is located in the Hamilton County Business Development Center (BDC) on the NorthShore. It’s 127,000 square feet of startup support – the largest business incubator in Tennessee, and the third largest in the nation.
The INCubator helps entrepreneurs achieve success through a three-year, progressive development program that capitalizes on the synergy of the BDC’s unique entrepreneurial ecosystem. Need some inspiration? Read about some of our INCubator businesses below.
“We designed apparel so athletes could jump higher or run faster, but health care workers save lives and wear nightgowns. We knew we could do better.”
Renowned professionals in the sports apparel industry George Brown and Uli Becker noticed how technological advancements in the world of athleisure could play a pivotal role in the comfort of heath care workers. Now they’re channeling their experience into uniforms for medical professionals. Aegle Gear approaches clothing design and technology like an athletic gear company but modifies it for the needs of health care professionals. Aegle Gear’s uniforms are comfortable, attractive and tough. They’re also fluid-resistant and treated with antimicrobial technology that eliminates germs.
“My wife and I moved from Tuscaloosa, Alabama to Chattanooga to be closer to world-class climbing – shout out to High Point Climbing and Fitness. Once that dream came true, my dream evolved to include a successful branch office of Barnett Jones Wilson in Chattanooga. The INCubator has made that possible.”
Barnett Jones Wilson is a structural engineering design firm that combines experience with new techniques like 3-D modeling of structures. Bob Barnett founded the firm 30 years ago with a vision of what the future of engineering would be like. Realizing hand drafting would soon be obsolete, he focused on computer-based design. He began with one computer and limited drafting software. The firm is still growing, now with more computers than they can count and a new Chattanooga office.
“We go through so much stress in our lives. Much of it we suffer alone, mostly in silence. Our muscles have memory of this trauma and hold onto it a long time. When I see the power I have to relieve some of that, I know I was meant to do this.”
Cramer originally used her unique talents in the chiropractic industry. But after witnessing firsthand the rejuvenating potential of touch, Cramer began her entrepreneurial journey to empower, heal and shift stigmas around massage therapy. In partnership with her campaign to educate the community, Cramer spreads awareness of her specialized massage technique: lymphatic therapy.
“Let’s replace more lawn spaces with native grassland. It takes about a year or two to maintain, but we will spend far less on water and fertilizer and encourage pollinators and native species over the long term. The amount of sustainable alternatives available to us are endless. We just need to start implementing them.”
Circadian Consulting provides environmental consulting services to the development community to reduce the environmental impact of Tennessee's growing infrastructure. The Circadian team offers a combined 50 years of experience with customized business solutions for environmental projects, including permitting and regulatory expertise, ecological surveys and more.
“It started off as something we made in small batches at home and custom bottled as a homemade gift for friends and family at Christmas. Then after a couple of months, they started asking when they could get more Hoff Sauce and it has just exploded from there.”
Contrary to most mass-produced, commercialized hot sauces that use fermented chilis, Aaron and Michelle Hoffman’s recipe is rich with gusto yet surprisingly uncomplicated. Three kinds of locally sourced chilis – chipotle, red jalapeño and habanero – unfermented – packed with vinegar, salt, granulated garlic and, of course, lots of love.
“The beckoning aroma of black coffee on a cool spring morning. The warming, caressing scent of hot tea while relaxing next to a winter fire. I wanted to master the art of invoking memories through scent.”
– Emily Warr
Five years ago, two best friends ditched the corporate world to establish a candle company. From the time she was a little girl, co-Founder Emily Warr found intrigue in how scent triggers memories and evokes emotions. In high school, her interest in candle making and small business ignited. She decided to pursue those passions as a career and convinced her best friend Chelsea Cash to move to Chattanooga, where they established The Rustic House in 2013. With 20 years of shared candle making experience, they have formulated the ideal scented soy candles. The Rustic House is committed to making honest, high-quality candles that evoke emotions and memories through scent.
“We have invented what was missing in the segment of the outdoors that we know and love. We just wanted to stay comfortable, dry and keep our gear out of the mud, and not fall into the regularly accepted stigma that it’s possible to ‘get rained out.’ ”
After participating in a medical mission trip to Honduras, camping enthusiast Richard Rhett realized his dissatisfaction with available gear and decided to create something that would protect campers from bad weather and provide comfortable sleep. He also plans to use his business to fight the clean drinking water crisis affecting millions of people worldwide, with a focus on Central America.
“Sometimes visionary entrepreneurs have to be reminded that the latest research shows there’s a correlation between revenue and being successful. I’ve witnessed a myriad of failed seed-capital investments. My agency helps corporations and entrepreneurs follow a process to secure revenue, instead of investing in product development and overhead before establishing a strong product-market fit. From there, it’s much easier to secure accounts receivable financing, angel funding or to state a case for why a budget should be allocated to take the new venture to the next level.”
For most of his 12-year career in sales and marketing, Alex Lavidge has helped new ventures secure revenue through market research insights and sales services. Regional clients have included Bridge Innovate, Kahuna Brands and Pass It Down as well as new ventures across the country from San Francisco to Austin, Texas. Currently, the new agency is positioning itself to create online tools and multimedia resources that help entrepreneurs accelerate validating product-market fit and scalability before deciding if it makes sense to launch a new brand.