Last week public/private organization Launch TN announced its 2014 Venture Match program, a tour of events throughout the state that seeks to match entrepreneurs with the investors or corporate partners that can help them go to market.
The program shifts format and focus depending on the region of the state they visit. In Nashville, they focus on tech companies and typically offer pitch events. In east Tennessee, where the Oak Ridge nuclear plant is located, many of the entrepreneurs are focused on energy, and in Memphis there is a lot of discussion about medical devices. Launch TN hopes to cater to the needs of each community and provide them the resources they need.
Jim Stefansic is the Director of Commercialization at Launch TN. When we spoke on the phone, he explained that many of the entrepreneurs they encounter are inventors or university faculty. They may not have the business savvy or experience pitching investors that we’re used to in the startup world. Launch TN provides a safe place to mentor and think about how the technologies these men and women develop can become true businesses.
This year’s events will be held in partnership with several organizations across the state, including the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Tennessee Research Foundation, Vanderbilt, Memphis Bioworks, and Start Co.
“The Venture Match program is an excellent forum to increase the number of commercialized technologies and high-growth startups in our state,” Launch TN CEO Charlie Brock said in a statement. “This initiative will continue to help build new networks and opportunities for collaborative, innovative thinking across the state.”
Like many other startup ecosystems outside Silicon Valley, the Tennessee community is still in the early days of what Brad Feld estimates to be a 20 year commitment. There’s a lot going on in Tennessee, of course, which is one reason we chose to host our semi-annual conference there.
Tennessee may still be testing and iterating as an ecosystem, but programs like Venture Match hope to bring out the technology and entrepreneurs that live in the state.