Chattanooga’s Brickyard Has Become A Second Home For International Startup Founders

Matt Patterson and Cam Doody didn’t launch Brickyard to be just another startup hub. After successfully scaling the moving logistics startup Bellhop together, the two wanted to break the accelerator and investing mold used across the startup ecosystem. 

Brickyard calls itself an “insulator” – a spot for founders to dive in and focus fully on product-market fit (something that is often elusive for early-stage founders). Armed with a $17 million investment fund and its residency program, Brickyard has brought in 24 founding teams, representing 19 cities, into the Chattanooga innovation scene. 

A good number of those founders have crossed oceans and borders to join in on Brickyard’s mission. 

 

Brickyard’s International Appeal

International founders from Europe, the United Kingdom, South America, and Canada have set up an office inside Brickyard. One such founder is Canadian Luigi La Corte. An engineer by training, La Corte worked in private equity before jumping into the startup world. He came across Brickyard when his team hit the fundraising circuit for Provision, a platform that helps general contractors bring down costs by automatically identifying risk in construction documents. 

He told Hypepotamus that Brickyard’s “electric environment” has helped the team grow in its early stages. 

“Chattanooga is a beautiful place and [there is] a lot to see. But I haven’t seen any of it…we wake up at seven, we go to the gym and the Chattanooga office, and then we work there until 11pm . And then go to sleep and do the same thing all over again. [Brickyard] built an environment where you’re encouraged to work and you enjoy it,” he added. 

Another team building alongside Provision is Shappi, a logistics startup that uses Verified Travelers to deliver products to international consumers. 

Karla Valdivieso, Shappi’s founder and CEO, started the company back in 2018 after seeing how difficult it was for people across Latin America – specifically those in her home country of Ecuador – to shop for some of the most popular international brands like Apple and Amazon. 

Shappi’s Karla Valdivieso

She moved to Chattanooga and moved into Brickyard a year ago to help grow Shappi. She told Hypepotamus that she was initially drawn to Brickyard because of Patterson and Doody’s background in logistics and marketplace-based startups. 

She said Brickyard is designed to feel “like home” and it has helped the team “unlock creativity” as it works to scale. 

There’s also Tom Husson & Miltiadis Saratzidis, the co-founders behind Eden Protocol. The two startup veterans met through the London-based startup program Entrepreneur First and are now working on an AI tool for talent acquisition and job matching. Saratzidis initially flew to Chattanooga to spend four days exploring Brickyard. He ended up staying three months. The team recently returned to Europe to sort out visa requirements, but he told Hypepotamus he is excited to get back Stateside and start building again within Brickyard in the coming weeks. 

Miltiadis Saratzidis of Eden

For him, Brickyard provides the community that is often lacking for those in the early-stage startup world.

“I think especially as founders in the early stage, it is really difficult to find the right community…we are trying to hit product market fit and we are trying to go to the next phase. Now being in a place [like Brickyard] where every one of us is working really hard and has the same kind of lifestyle, it creates a huge impact,” he added. 

 

The Brickyard Difference 

Brickyard’s structure has clearly struck a chord with international founders, as its portfolio boasts startups from Malta, Vancouver, London, Montreal, Dubai, Greece, and Ecuador. 

Those international founders we talked to are either splitting time between their home base and Chattanooga or are making arrangements to stay in Chattanooga full time.  

Patterson said Brickyard has “found a sweet spot” with international founders who are looking to expand into the US market but don’t necessarily know where to go first. 

“I think they just assume they’ll go to SF or NYC just because, but we catch them at a good time where they’re actively thinking about making a move and we can instantly provide a community of other ambitious founders from around the world they can be accepted into,” Patterson added. 

Brickyard’s Doody added that international founders are drawn to the “burn the ships” mentality that resonates across space. 

“All our founders, almost without exception, have consciously left somewhere behind to move here and focus on building. It’s a deeply palpable thing between our founders, and I think something they are all proud of,” Brickyard’s Doody told Hypepotamus.