Don’t sleep on Memphis.
If you’re not paying attention, you could miss the hottest ticket coming out of the South right now. Memphis, Tennessee, is home to a thriving, emergent tech scene. Many businesses, especially those helmed by women and business owners of color, are making their mark there. And the support provided by the entrepreneur hub Epicenter is helping them make that happen.
As an anchor for WMC Action News 5, Kontji Anthony is living proof that if you have a great idea, all you need is the right network to get it off the ground. She found that in Epicenter, which connects emergent entrepreneurs to community and capital.
In 2020, Anthony launched a Facebook group, Product Sightings, with her sisters after noticing an immediate need in a new, pandemic-ravaged reality. Supply chains were breaking down, and people were going without desperately needed items during the lockdown. This is how the idea for their app, also called Product Sightings, was born. “This whole concept grew out of a pandemic need. It really came out of love,” Anthony says.
Product Sightings is a community search engine that helps shoppers hunt for products they couldn’t find without crowd-sourcing. Considering her hometown, New Rochelle, New York, was ground zero for the state’s coronavirus epidemic, Anthony had a personal stake in the app’s necessity. She knew the concept could create a tremendous impact on her community and had the potential to help an even wider number of people. But to get it launched, she needed the right people to listen.
The day before making the big pitch, Anthony cast a wide net, texting six different people for their input. “I thought, ‘Maybe one person might let me run my pitch deck by them,’” she recalls. “I ended up getting a text message back from literally all of them.” Each one offered to listen to her pitch, and Anthony attributes that to the open, collaborative culture of the Memphis tech scene.
“Every single person who responded happened to be from Memphis.”
Anthony says the thriving metropolis is a place that works hard for its emergent tech talent—especially women and entrepreneurs of color who have their hearts set on positively impacting their communities.
“It just ended up being a testament to the fact that this is a town where, if you want to win, Memphis is going to show up and show out for you,” she says. “If you come here, and you’re ready to work, Memphis will work for you.”
And Product Sightings? As of publishing, the app has a tribe of over 34,000 users.
Find out more about Kontji Anthony’s journey to launch her app and her experience in the Memphis tech scene.
This editorial is brought to you in partnership with Epicenter & We Are Memphis.