The State of Tennessee Entrepreneurship at #TheTENN Roadshow

The eight companies participating in Launch Tennessee’s master accelerator program, The TENN, stopped in Nashville this week as part of a five-city roadshow. Hosted by Emma, the stop in Nashville gave the entrepreneurs a chance to pitch their ideas to a packed house. (Nashville podcaster Clark Buckner was also there to capture some great insights from the entrepreneurs; check out his audio interviews in this post.)

Here are some observations I made about the state of Tennessee entrepreneurship after attending this event:

  1. Entrepreneurship isn’t just for the young ones. From coverage on Mark Zuckerberg and Elizabeth Holmes, it’s easy to be led to believe that entrepreneurs start young. But from seeing the leaders of these eight companies, the reality is that businesses are being started at any age.
  2. A Tennessee-born venture can be in any industry. We’re not just about music and healthcare. Innovations in construction, 3D printing (Branch Technology) and even divorce law (DivorceSecure) are all represented in Tennessee. And the variety of industry-based accelerator programs that are available in Tennessee now may be helping them move their ideas.
  3. Each product aims to solve a very specific problem. Everyone wants to develop a product that would serve everyone, but that’s really not the way to frame your product, at least in the beginning. The roadshow really gave me better insight into how these companies frame their pitches and their target customer.
  4. There’s a lot of white men in the game, but that’s changing. Out of the eight pitches on Wednesday, only one was pitched by a woman (Sing and Spell). A similar ratio was also observed in the crowd. I could take this visual as discouraging, but I prefer to see it as an opportunity for growth.

Photo by Walker Chrisman
Audio interviews by Clark Buckner