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June 10, 2020 | Tom Ballard

“36|86 Festival” goes virtual to engage the world for 10 days in August

As our frequent readers know, we like on occasion to use an analogy, a well-known quote, or perhaps a rephrasing of a saying to illustrate the key message in an article. Something that quickly came to mind with yesterday’s announcement from Launch Tennessee was this saying: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

Like so many organizers of large events these days – the annual Tennessee “Governor’s Conference on Economic and Community Development,” the 25th anniversary “Tennessee Valley Corridor National Summit,” “Venture Atlanta,” and North Carolina’s “Venture Connect” to name four, Launch Tennessee has decided against bringing more than one thousand people to Nashville in late August for the annual “36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival” held at four or five crowded venues on Lower Broad.

However, instead of simply converting the agenda to a virtual format with video-delivered events over three days, the team at Launch Tennessee has developed a new playbook, taking the conference to the world when it would be challenging, if not impossible, for those across the globe to travel to Nashville.

With the headline that read “It’s time to re-imagine 36|86,” Launch Tennessee, on whose Board of Directors I serve, formally unveiled the online everywhere edition of the “36|86 Festival.” It will be a 10-day event with more than 40 sessions and a focus on five key themes – healthcare innovation, music tech and digital media, creative economy and ecosystems, early stage Founders and capital, and scaling Founders and capital.

“For 10 days in August, ‘36|86 Festival’ welcomes innovators, change-makers, investors, and business leaders – from everywhere and anywhere,” the email announcement (36-86 Email) read. “We’re enhancing 36|86 traditions built over the past seven years and injecting a new spirit of possibility and promise. Compelling conversation. Innovative programming. And the right tools to inform, excite, and position entrepreneurs to lead the way in the new economy.”

It begins on August 17, a little more than a week earlier than the previously planned “in Nashville” schedule called for and concludes on August 28, a day later than the in-person event. Two days of programming will be devoted to each topic in the order outlined above (e.g., healthcare innovation on August 17 and 18 followed by music tech and digital media on August 19 and 20 and so on).

More details are expected to be released in the coming weeks.

For those in the start-up space, the revised format continues Launch Tennessee’s stated goal of branding Tennessee as the most start-up friendly state in the county, but showcasing the technology, innovation and entrepreneurial assets in a responsible and safe way, recognizing the continuing challenges of COVID-19.

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