Access to capital is a key ingredient in the success of the region’s budding entrepreneurial ecosystem. As such, it’s important that we understand how we stack-up, compared to other parts of the state, and if we are capitalizing on the opportunities that are available to us.
One individual who has devoted much of his career to the nuances of access to capital is Geoff Robson, formerly of Tech 20/20 and more recently with his own start-up called 3 Degrees LLC. He is also serving as Director of the East Tennessee Capital Network, a program of the East Tennessee Regional Accelerator Coalition that is designed to help create more locally-based early stage capital.
Robson called our attention to the State of Tennessee’s just released annual report on its TNInvestco program, an initiative that allocated $200 million in tax credits to 10 venture capital funds with broad experience in developing new companies in Tennessee. None of the TNInvestcos was founded in East Tennessee, although several have established a presence in the region.
Some of the key points that Robson noted from the annual report were:
- 76 firms have received investments totaling $55.3 million out of a total of $140M available.
- Five of the 76-funded companies are located in the Knoxville/Oak Ridge area and another two are located in the Chattanooga region.
- This gives East Tennessee as a whole (Chattanooga through Knoxville/Oak Ridge to Johnson City/Kingsport) a total of seven investments.
- Total investment from TNInvestcos in these seven companies is $4.4 million out of the $55M invested.
My main “takeaway” is that East Tennessee companies need to be as aggressive as they can be in getting their deals before the TNInvestcos. There’s still money to be had, and we need to be securing a greater percentage than we have been if we want to be successful as a region.
For those interested, the latest TNInvestco annual report is available at: https://www.tnecdit.net/WebFiles/Transparency/TNinvestco/2011%20TNInvestco%20Annual%20Report.pdf .