TV Pioneer Brings Business Passion, Expertise To Startup Week

By Dave Flessner Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Kay Koplivitz broke the glass ceiling in the TV industry by becoming the first woman to head a television network. Now she is helping other female industry disruptors grow their businesses through a nonprofit accelerator known as Springboard Enterprises.

Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.

When Kay Koplivitz began in the television industry in the 1960s, there were only three television networks and no top female broadcast executives.

Koplivitz, who wrote her master's thesis on satellite technology and its potential impact on communications in the late 1960s, had a vision for a new type of television. When she tested her thesis in the business world, she helped to not only revolutionize television, she also broke the industry glass ceiling by becoming the first woman to head a television network.

"I really felt I had a great idea and wanted to pursue it," said Koplivitz, the founder and CEO of USA Networks. "It took seven years and it wasn't easy to get started, but satellite television proved to be a great disruptor."

Decades later, the TV pioneer and entrepreneur is helping other female industry disruptors grow their businesses through a nonprofit accelerator known as Springboard Enterprises that has already trained 627 woman-led companies in technology and life sciences to raise more than $7 billion in capital.

Koplivitz will bring her entrepreneurial passion and expertise to Chattanooga on Monday to help kick off this year's Startup Week. Her address at 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday at Miller Plaza is one of 175 events scheduled from Oct. 3-7 in downtown Chattanooga as part of the third annual Startup Week in the self-described "Gig City."

Stephanie Hays, one of the organizers for Startup Week, said next week will bring hundreds of entrepreneurs, investors and others interested in startup businesses together for a variety of programs.

"It's a week of celebration of what's happening with entrepreneurship in our community," she said. "It's an educational opportunity for some, a chance to make an investment or employment connection for others, and a time for everyone to see how our entrepreneurial ecosystem is growing in Chattanooga."

Koplivitz' pioneering role for women reflects the efforts in Chattanooga to be inclusive in promoting business startups. Chattanooga created one of the South's first female-led venture funds, the Jump Fund, for women entrepreneurs, while the Enterprise Center is sponsoring a training program for those without computers or internet skills or connections known as Tech Goes Home to help bridge the digital divide in the community.

"I like what Chattanooga has done with the accelerated broadband speeds and coverage and how it is trying to grow its entrepreneurial community," said Koplovitz, the author of Bold Women, Big Ideas: Learning to Play the High-Risk Entrepreneurial Game, and Been There, Run That. "There are a number of these city initiatives that are popping around the country, which I think is a good sign and hopefully will attract more investment opportunity outside of the coasts where most of the investment has occurred since the mid 1990s."

During next week's Startup Activities, the 10 logistics businesses that have been participating in Lamp Post Group's Dynamo accelerator will pitch their ideas to the public and prospective investors on Tuesday. Two days later, the Company Lab will present its accelerator graduates at its Demo Night.

The Startup Week activities are clustered in Chattanooga's Innovation District, a 140-acre area in the heart of Chattanooga's downtown anchored by the 10-story Edney Building at 11th and Market streets.

To kick off this year's Startup Week events, the Innovation District will host The Innovation Office Hop Sunday from 2-5 p.m.

The self-guided tour starts at Miller Plaza where participants can pick up maps highlighting participating organizations. Each office will have someone there to greet hop goers throughout the tour of different offices and buildings to chat with participants with 18 different companies and organizations.

To conclude the stroll, participants are invited to convene at Warehouse Row from 4 -5 p.m. for light snacks, drinks, and live music to celebrate the beginning of Startup Week..

"We look forward to having the public take a closer look at the cutting-edge businesses and office tenants located among our upscale retail shops and restaurants," Warehouse Row Manager Jen Mingola said.

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