(EDITOR’S NOTE: Launch Tennessee begins its annual statewide roadshow for the teams in its “The TENN” master accelerator program next week. They’ll be in Kingsport on Monday, February 6; Knoxville on February 7; and Chattanooga on February 8, all with a public event. You can register here. In advance of the tour, we asked one of last year’s participants from Knoxville to share his insights into the experience.)
By Jeff Hubrig Jr., Director of Global Partnerships and Investor Relations, Innovasan
This time last year my company had the privilege of participating in Launch Tennessee’s annual statewide master accelerator program, “The TENN.” Fast forward to now and as I’m reflecting on the many positive takeaways from the six-month experience, there is another cohort of amazing up-and-coming companies touring the state to share their stories and rally supporters for their missions.
Attending “The TENN” roadshow event or demo day is an exhilarating experience, you’re immersed in a community of passionate individuals who believe impossible is an opinion and are driven to come together and help one another bring massive value to the world by sharing resources and offering support in any way possible.
This brings me to my first and most important takeaway from “The TENN” – the people and the relationships gained.
It’s my belief that at its core business is the exchange of value between two or more parties for mutual benefit. In other words, business is people. Business is relationships. Of course, in any genuine relationship, there is give and take. Community members selflessly help one another without the expectation of anything in return, simply because there is an opportunity to help a neighbor, and it’s the right thing to do.
As “The TENN” participants and members of the Tennessee entrepreneurial community, we had the opportunity to tour the state and meet people from all walks of life that genuinely wanted to offer assistance in any way possible. “The TENN” provided an opportunity for us to build a support network of amazing people from Kingsport to Memphis (and beyond). Every company that goes through the program is given this same opportunity, and it’s up to the founders to seize it. I hope to stay in touch with many of these individuals for years to come and help them whenever the opportunity arises.
Meeting diverse individuals from all walks of life was certainly the greatest thing I took away from “The TENN,” but it certainly wasn’t the only takeaway. From a business perspective the general publicity and media opportunities were fantastic. There were multiple chances to get picked-up by papers from across the state and featured on social media outlets that reach far beyond Tennessee. Additionally, the trips to New York City and California provide incredible opportunities for even more media exposure and relationship building. Again, it is up to the companies to make the most of those trips; you get out what you put in.
On our New York City trip, we had successful meetings with investors and potential strategic partners that we probably wouldn’t have met if the opportunity hadn’t been provided by Launch Tennessee and ‘The TENN” program.
The final big takeaway was the knowledge gained through the multi-day workshop sessions, such as the one we had with the GrowthX founding team. Our cohort had an opportunity to spend 48 hours with the GrowthX team and receive a tailored lesson on rapid scaling from co-founder Sean Sheppard. It’s tough to quantify the value this kind of experience provides but rest assured – it is massive. I’ll use lessons learned during that workshop for the rest of my career, and I’m thankful I was able to learn them now.
The GrowthX workshop is just one example, but Launch Tennessee organized many other tailored education sessions to help each company in our cohort successfully execute its next major milestones.