Alexis Willis was master of ceremonies for Will This Float? last year at the Chattanooga Zoo. (Photo: Contributed)

Applications are open for The Company Lab’s eighth annual Will This Float? competition, which showcases new startup ideas.

“Over the years, some of Chattanooga’s most promising entrepreneurs have debuted their companies at Will This Float?” Co.Lab Executive Director Marcus Shaw said in a prepared statement. 

Startups such as Variable Inc., Bellhops and RootsRated pitched their early stage ideas at this competition, he also said. 


This year’s edition of the competition will highlight new, high-growth potential business concepts in a range of industries.

Organizers are encouraging entrepreneurs in all areas to apply, and preference will be given to “novel, early stage ideas that have the potential to grow into highly successful companies,” according to a news release.

Submissions will be narrowed to a maximum of eight finalists that best-meet five assessment criteria.

Cash prizes of $1,000, $500 and $250 will be awarded to three winners at the culmination of the competition.

For the first time, the top honoree will also get a ticket to Austin, Texas’ music, film and media festival South by Southwest.

Co.Lab COO Tia Capps via email:

Many of the nation’s top entrepreneurs, creatives and technologists convene at this festival, and we want to see one of [our] own leverage that environment. The interactive badge we’re giving away will allow one of our local entrepreneurs to exchange ideas with other brilliant people and attend workshops that could cultivate their winning business idea.

Selected participants each get three minutes to pitch their startup idea before a panel of judges and an audience of local startup leaders, general attendees, and potential mentors and business partners.

Once all the presentations are complete, the judges will deliberate backstage.

At the end of the evening, Co.Lab will announce first- and second-place winners.

Over the past seven years, Will This Float? has showcased about 67 entrepreneurs who have raised more than $42 million in combined capital, according to a news release. 

The event attracts about 250 attendees annually. 

The event was one of the first events Co.Lab launched after it formed in 2010, Capps said. It was also around that time that local public interest in startups began to grow.

That interest has continued, she said.

“The sheer number of ventures and business concepts that have crossed the stage at Will This Float? signals that entrepreneurial ambitions in our region are not only healthy and thriving but that they are following an upward trajectory,” she said.

Click here to learn more about Will This Float? or to submit an application.

To register as a general attendee, click here

Updated @ 10:49 a.m. on 9/20/17 to reflect Tia Capps’ new title.