Chattanooga Founders-Turned-VCs Are Laying The Groundwork For A New Type Of Early-Stage Startup

Matt Patterson and Cam Doody used to help people move from house to house with their Chattanooga-based moving startup Bellhop. With the launch of their latest venture, the pair is now hoping to move full companies down to the city.

Patterson and Doody launched Brickyard as a new take on venture capital and physical space for founders. 

“To be honest, Matt and I never thought that we’d go into venture,” Doody told Hypepotamus. “It wasn’t something that got us super excited until we started thinking about what we thought was missing in the world of early stage venture. When you’re pre-product market fit, you have a lot of accelerators whose job it is to get a founder to their first raise and then their job is pretty much done. Thinking back to the early days of Bellhop, the hardest period for us was post-raise but pre-product market fit. We had the pressure of venture capital but our rudder as a company was still pretty thin. There was a ton of uncertainty.”  

The only people who understood that uncertainty were other pre-product market fit founders, added Doody. So the two decided to join forces again to launch a residency program for founders last year. Those joining Brickyards have received investment and moved to Chattanooga to work under one roof. 

The residency program is designed intentionally not to be an incubator with daily programming or a formal demo day. The team prefers to think of it as an “insulator,” as it provides founders with a hyper-focused environment and camaraderie with other founders all within a 12,000 square foot location. 

“I think we’re living in a world where founder communities are a mile wide and an inch deep. Founders are really looking for depth and meaningful relationships with other founders,” Doody added. 

A look inside Brickyard

Patterson and Doody self-funded the first 16 startups coming through its residency program over the last year. Outside of the Southeast, Startups moved to Chattanooga by way of San Francisco, New Jersey, Austin, Vancouver, New York, Boston, London, San Diego, and Chicago and represent industries like AI, gaming, blockchain, and biotech.

Now, Brickyard is ready to move even faster. In just over 5 weeks, it raised its first official fund of $17 million with the goal to bring upwards of 40 new pre-seed and seed stage startups into the Brickyard portfolio.

The fund will write smaller checks, around $250,00, into larger pre-seed and seed rounds. 

The $17 million comes from 65 local LPs. Raising the fund from those in the Chattanooga ecosystem was an important part of their thesis, the team told Hypepotamus.



Brickyard’s first fund also has a unique view of what ownership could look like in early-stage venture: All founders will receive 10% of the GPs carried interest.

The concept of founder ownership grew out of Patterson’s and Doody’s own experience during the early days of Bellhop. While building alongside other early-stage founders, they talked often about how great it would be to trade equity with other startups in their network, said Patterson. 

“There was never really an easy, clean way to do that,” Patterson added. “But with this fund, we revisited that idea and figured out that by carving out the GP would be the best way.” 

The team also said that this ownership model creates a deeper sense of camaraderie amongst the founders building under the Brickyard roof. “They’re super competitive with each other. They want to dunk on each other every day…but they have so much respect for each other because they see how hard everybody’s working,” said Doody. 

The team added that the founder GP carry also means that startups already involved with Brickyard are incentivized to refer the best and the brightest from their network. 

The Brickyard team knows the concept is not for every founder. But they intentionally look for “purity of intention” when it comes to investable founders. 

“We look for the founders that are ready to put their head down and grind,” added Doody. “10 years ago if you’re building a company, you were just that neurotic type that had a problem you couldn’t get out of your head. [Entrepreneurship] wasn’t pop culture…there wasn’t a celebrity to it or Forbes 30 Under 30. Today is just a totally different game. There are all these like different reasons why founders would raise capital today that you didn’t have in the past. So we look for the founders that are doing this because they want to build a big company. Full stop.”