Learn more about how Launch Tennessee and EcoMap are working together to connect Tennessee's entrepreneurial ecosystem.
“We were looking for a while to find the right resource that could serve as a one-stop-shop for finding resources, programs, expertise, and connections for entrepreneurs and innovators in the state.” - Ashlin Smith, Launch Tennessee
In a world teeming with innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, creating a supportive ecosystem for startups is more crucial than ever. At the forefront of this mission is Launch Tennessee (LaunchTN), an organization striving to make Tennessee the best place for startups. With its expansive network, comprehensive programs, and unique initiatives, LaunchTN serves as an exemplary model for public-private partnerships aimed at stimulating economic growth through entrepreneurship.
We recently sat down with LaunchTN team members Ashlin Smith and Chloe Morrison to talk more about the work LaunchTN is doing to empower entrepreneurs across the state and the role that EcoMap is playing in these efforts.
At the heart of Launch Tennessee's approach to fostering a robust startup ecosystem are three 'C' foundational pillars—Commercialization, Capital, and Connection. On the connection end, LaunchTN plays a pivotal role in uniting the state's entrepreneurial ecosystem through their extensive web of entrepreneurial support organization (ESO) network partners. These partners include both core partners such as Epicenter located in Memphis, and The Company Lab (CO.LAB) based out of the Chattanooga region, as well as a number of other ESO’s from around the state who are stepping up to provide critical expertise and resources to founders.
These organizations have become valuable assets for entrepreneurs in Tennessee looking to access resources and guidance. However, LaunchTN realized that something was missing—a centralized platform to digitally gather all of these organizations in one place.
“We were looking for a while to find the right resource that could serve as a one stop shop for finding resources, programs, expertise, and connections for entrepreneurs and innovators in the state,” Ashlin explained.
EcoMap worked with LaunchTN to build Startup Tennessee, a digital front door to Tennessee's entrepreneurial ecosystem. The platform provides information on resources, organizations, and events from across the state’s 95 counties, with a focus on the resource providers who are helping to create a more accessible landscape for Tennessee entrepreneurs.
By allowing ESO's to claim their organizations and add additional resources and events to EcoMap’s existing curated dataset, Startup Tennessee serves as a dynamic and comprehensive guide that's continually updated with the latest opportunities and information. This collaborative approach ensures that the platform serves as an authentic reflection of the state's rich and diverse entrepreneurial landscape.
“We (LaunchTN) were looking to both be a connector of these resources and put a spotlight on them," Chloe explained.
Entrepreneurs and ESO's from across the state can now access and connect with resources in a timely manner thanks to the platforms powerful search functionality and easy-to-use interface.
In addition to playing a role in connecting the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, the Startup Tennessee platform seeks to help advance the capital and commercialization initiatives of LaunchTN. On the commercialization end, LaunchTN has found incredible success though their SBIR matching fund, which aims to help increase the competitiveness of Tennessee-based companies in leveraging and accessing the SBIR/STTR programs.
“Over the past five years we’ve supported over 130 companies,” Ashlin remarked. "And we're embarking on our next round of applicants that are getting ready to be awarded.”
On the capital side of things, Launch Tennessee is the administrator of $70 million in funding under the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) to make equity investments in Tennessee startups and venture funds.
"While Startup Tennessee is focused a lot on the connection aspect, it's going to overlap because we have Tennessee venture capital firms on the platform," Ashlin explained. "We also have commercialization resources we want to continue to add."
At the time of our conversation, Chloe and Ashlin were gearing up for LaunchTN's 3686, one of the South’s largest gatherings of founders, investors, executives, and entrepreneurs. The EcoMap team made their way to Nashville, TN to join in on the festivities that took place from September 19-21st at the Wildhorse Saloon. Chloe described it to us as “not your typical conference”, which was a sentiment confirmed by the EcoMap team members in attendance. Seeing the Tennessee entrepreneurial ecosystem on full display was incredibly powerful, and the flawless execution by the LaunchTN team and their partners was nothing short of amazing.
Congratulations to Ashlin, Chloe, and the rest of the LaunchTN team for the success of this year’s event and thank you for all the work you do to help make Tennessee’s entrepreneurial ecosystem more inclusive, accessible, and connected!
Interested in creating a one-stop-shop for your ecosystem’s entrepreneurial community?
Schedule a time to meet with the EcoMap team below to get started. We look forward to helping you.