By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
The word launch and John Lanahan seem to go hand in hand.
The new Director of Capital Formation at Launch Tennessee joins the team September 12 following a six-year career with LaunchCapital, an organization he joined a year after its founding in 2009 and for which he opened its New York City office in 2012.
Lanahan’s appointment was announced on August 10.
We recently caught-up with the Jacksonville, FL native for a quick interview. He had just returned from a whirlwind trip to Nashville where Lanahan and his wife selected an apartment in the city’s Germantown neighborhood.
While it will be the first time that he has lived in the South since he left Florida to attend Middlebury College in Vermont, it is not Lanahan’s first exposure to Music City or his new employer. He actually has attended a couple of LaunchTN’s “36|86 Conferences” and also helped with visits by “The TENN” companies to the Big Apple.
What’s his motivation for moving to Tennessee? It starts with what Lanahan says is a “soft spot for the South,” but there is much more.
“I was attracted by the team at LaunchTN and Nashville,” he says, noting that he first met Jason Denenberg, LaunchTN’s former Director of Entrepreneurship and Capital Formation, and later Charlie Brock, the organization’s President and Chief Executive Officer.
When Denenberg left to work full-time on his start-up, Brock decided to split the duties into two positions. Jill Van Beke, a long-time LaunchTN team member, assumed additional duties as Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
For Lanahan, the new role is an opportunity to further expand a solid brand and help further advance what he characterizes as high quality start-ups in the state.
“LaunchTN has really laid the groundwork to move the ecosystem forward,” he says. “I saw an opportunity where Nashville and Tennessee could become the start-up hub for the Southeast. That opportunity was exciting.”
In the new role, Lanahan hopes to leverage the connections he made from his days in San Francisco and New York City.
LaunchCapital focuses on early stage investments in the $150,000 to $300,000 range. It was founded by Elon Boms, backed by Karen Pritzker’s family office, and currently has offices in Cambridge, MA; New Haven, CT; and Palo Alto, CA in addition to New York City.