(EDITOR’S NOTE: For nearly four years, we have been profiling young, aspiring entrepreneurs as well as those who are into their second, third or even seventh undertaking. So, we decided to ask a few of those entrepreneurs to share their thoughts with us as we begin a brand new year. This is the final article in the series.)
Brian Strong is a Founder and Partner in Vendor Registry, a Knoxville-based company founded in 2012 that helps connect local governments seeking a more robust mix of bidders for goods and services with vendors seeking cost-effective ways to know about public sector opportunities. The company took first place in the inaugural “The TENN” master accelerator sponsored by Launch Tennessee. We first profiled Vendor Registry in this June 2012 article on teknovation.biz.
- How would you describe the local entrepreneurial ecosystem as we enter 2016? Knoxville is a great place for lifestyle businesses. There are a lot of examples of great lifestyle businesses and their successes in Knoxville. Some of these lifestyle businesses have grown to become great large enterprises and some of the largest businesses in town. Knoxville’s ecosystem for high-growth companies has a ways to go.
- How has the ecosystem changed in the last few years? I believe that parts of the ecosystem have changed. I believe the institutions, media, and governments see others areas of the state and country that have high-growth entrepreneurship ecosystems, and they would like Knoxville to have that culture as well. So, they are putting in programs and assistance to help young entrepreneurs. There are still parts of the ecosystem that need development.
- If you could wave a magic wand and get your wish as to one or two changes that would make it easier for local entrepreneurs to succeed, what would those be? I wish I could wave a magic wand and the community would have a good understanding of a high-growth entrepreneur ecosystem. Entrepreneurs would understand what they need to grow their business and the capital it will take to accomplish it, the community would know how to support them, and local investors would know how to evaluate the companies and manage their risks to get the return on their money they are looking for. This lack of understanding leads to uncertainty in deals. Uncertainty leads to risk. Risk turns to fear. Fear kills deals.
- Most individuals make a special wish as they ring in a New Year. What wishes do you have for your company in 2016? That’s easy . . . success. We have a plan, and we want to achieve it. We have history to know what we can accomplish on a small scale, this year is accelerating what we know we can accomplish on a larger scale.