By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
In less than six weeks, the inaugural “Nashville Startup Week” will launch in partnership with Techstars, the global program focused on supporting entrepreneurs.
The slightly more than five plus days of activities kicks-off Sunday, March 12 with the second annual IDEAcon conference for start-ups and entrepreneurs at The City Winery, 609 Lafayette Street, and the festivities wrap-up with an as yet to be determined networking event on Friday, March 17.
In between, Sam Butler, one of the organizers, says attendees can expect a jam-packed series of afternoon information sessions and evening activities that include pitches and networking opportunities.
There is a registration fee for IDEAcon, but the remaining activities are being offered without any cost of attendance.
“The ecosystem we have here is so strong, but it is fragmented,” Butler says in explaining a key driver for organizing the week-long event. “There are different hangout places for entrepreneurs during the year, but they convene just once annually during Launch Tennessee’s 36|86 Conference.”
“Within about 10 days of each other, we had separately called Techstars to talk about adopting their playbook and hosting a week,” Butler says. The two subsequently joined forces and recruited several organizations to become sponsors. They include Baker Donelson, which is providing its Special Events Center for the daily afternoon programs; Lyft, which is providing ride vouchers to help participants get from the information sessions to the evening activities; The Iron Yard; Launch Tennessee; and PYA, the sponsor of teknovation.biz.
As far as plans for the week, Butler describes the afternoon sessions on Monday through Friday as “talks.” They will run from 3 to 6:30 p.m. at the Baker Donelson facility and be divided into 30-minute segments. Some will be fireside chats, others will be panel discussions.
The programming will focus on five tracks: music, healthcare, data and development, Funding 101, and Business 101. Confirmed presenters include Charlie Brock, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Launch Tennessee; Jason Denenberg, Founder and CEO of NourishWise; Evan Lengerich, an Associate at Heritage Group; Ryan Macy, President and CEO of Satchel Health; Chris Parks, Founder of Change Healthcare; and Phil Shmerling, CEO of InCrowd Capital LLC.
After a 30-minute break, the evening activities begin at 7 p.m. and will be spread across several venues during the week.
The March 13 event will be a networking opportunity at Industrious Nashville, 1033 Demonbreun Street.
The next three evenings will be organized around a “Pitch Battle” as Butler describes it. A total of 15 start-ups will pitch – eight on Tuesday night and seven on Wednesday. The top three from those two competitions will battle for the top prize at Thursday evening’s activities scheduled for the Wond’ry, Vanderbilt University’s new innovation center.
“We hope everyone from wannapreneurs to serial entrepreneurs will participate,” Butler says. The organizers are making a special effort to attract college students.
While there is no registration fee for the events on Monday through Friday, Butler says they want those planning to attend to register on the “Nashville Startup Week” webpage.