Gig Tank

 Chattanooga, photo by Abby Whisler

Chattanooga, photo by Abby Whisler

Chattanooga’s high-speed internet is doing far more than simply facilitating painless Netflix viewings. The city has become a breeding ground for startup businesses that are looking to take advantage of internet speeds that are fifty times the country average.

Since 2012, more than thirty tech startups have sprung up in Chattanooga. Much of this can be credited to the metro-wide fiber infrastructure and the priority on getting cheap broadband to the masses.

CO.LAB, a company that helps startups get on their feet, has been there since the beginning. Since 2010, they have launched a number of companies, including Chattanooga hotspots like Velo Coffee and The CrashPad.

In 2012, CO.LAB commenced an annual program titled Gig Tank. Lasting fourteen weeks, Gig Tank’s focus is to help startups utilize Chattanooga’s one gigabit per second internet, the fastest speed in the United States. Entrepreneurs develop a business plan over the fourteen weeks, working with experts along the way. The program culminates with presentations to potential investors.

While Gig Tank 2014 concentrated on 3-D printing startups, the 2015 rendition marks a return to what they originally set out to do—high-speed innovation. This year, entrepreneurs will develop applications that are specifically designed to operate at one gigabit per second speed.

CO.LAB and Gig Tank are responsible for putting companies like Corpora on the map, which uses real-time Twitter updates and other public data to track the trends of illnesses. Started by Adam Sadilek, Corpora uses high-speed internet to quickly compile information about common sicknesses, such as the flu, and predict when and where another outbreak will occur. The vision is that one day, people will be able to open an application on their phone and check if the area they are about to enter is germ-infested.

This kind of innovation is precisely what CO.LAB envisioned when they started Gig Tank in 2012. However, back then they weren’t sure how widespread ultra high-speed internet would be. Now that gigabit communities are a reality, Gig Tank is refocused on accelerating startups. According to executive director Mike Bradshaw, “Startups are now better positioned than ever to begin developing high-bandwidth business models.”

Gig Tank 2015 is currently accepting applications. The application window will close on March 31st. The program will stretch from May 4th to August 15th, concluding with Demo Day where business plans will be presented to potential partners and investors.