Nashville's Entrepreneur Center Gives Start-Ups Tools for Success
The long-term mission of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center is to create jobs. Initiatives like these are just a few of the reasons why Nashville is such an attractive city for new businesses.
Who knows better than a fellow entrepreneur what tools another entrepreneur needs to be successful?
Nashville’s Entrepreneur Center, created from a Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce initiative, is banking on that premise, with its goal of making Nashville the No. 1 place to start a business. Staffed with, invested in and mentored by people who have turned back-of-napkin ideas into flourishing businesses, the center has provided the tools to launch almost two dozen entrepreneurial start-ups during its first year of staffed operation, seeing more than $5 million in investment.
Mission: Create Jobs
“Our long-term mission for our program is to create jobs and add to the tax base of Nashville by supporting innovation and entrepreneurship,” says Clay Jackson, the center’s director of marketing and communications. “We look forward to seeing how those job numbers and figures created during our first year in operation play out over the coming years.”
The center provides an impressive menu of services, from online tools (including an Entrepreneur Resource Directory), hands-on mentoring and comprehensive workshops to fully equipped office space for qualifying start-ups, and access to venture capitalists and angel investors.
Stratasan Has Successful Launch
For Jason Moore, co-founder of health-care data information company Stratasan, the Entrepreneur Center was invaluable in the successful launch of his business in September 2010, when he became the center’s first E-office tenant.
“It has been incredible,” Moore says, admitting that initially he was a little skeptical of the value the center might provide his start-up. That skepticism has changed to enthusiastic support.
“They hammer on you about telling your story, helping you create your pro forma, developing financial modeling, creating a new market or segmenting into an existing one,” he says. “It makes you understand your business much better than when you came in. Getting involved with the Entrepreneur Center is a great way to get involved and get noticed.”
With three full-time staff members, led by President and CEO Michael Burcham, the center relies heavily on volunteers, and they’ve lined up some pretty heavy hitters in the business world to serve as advisors, mentors and investors. They have also come up with some big ideas of their own for the center.
Entrepreneur Center Expansion
“Our immediate goal is moving our center into the Nashville Trolley Barn #1 at Rolling Mill Hill, which will quadruple our space,” Jackson says. The new space will allow the center to incubate upwards of 60 companies and expand its service offerings.
The center takes advantage of partnerships with other local entrepreneurial services, including Jumpstart Foundry, Bullpen Ventures, Angel Capital Group and Nashville Capital Network, organizations that promote entrepreneurial and economic growth by being the hub for early-stage capital formation in Middle Tennessee. State programs such as TNInvestcos, where funds are invested through local venture capital firms as an entrepreneurial investment opportunity, have shown “phenomenal support of Nashville’s start-up companies and the development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Jackson says.
Those partnerships are paying off, says Stratasan’s Moore. “Nashville is bringing a lot of things together that other places aren’t, and the Entrepreneur Center is another milestone in making Nashville a more entrepreneur-friendly place.”