By Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
Former Knoxvillian Alex Lavidge has a new gig in Chattanooga, no pun intended.
The former Vice President of Business Development at Variable, Inc., the electrical design and software development firm behind the NODE+ sensor platform, joined CO. LAB as Director of its nationally-recognized “GIGTANK” accelerator. The appointment was effective January 1.
“Alex is a great fit,” CO.LAB’s Mike Bradshaw told us. “He has an exciting background and has grown-up living entrepreneurship and technology.”
In his new role, Lavidge succeeds Doug Speight who served as the 2014 “GIGTANK” Director.
“The only thing moving faster than the gigabit network in Chattanooga is the speed at which people come together to share ideas, invest capital and make an impact,” Lavidge said. “It has been inspiring seeing the entrepreneurial community help identify a prospective list of high-tech, high-impact startups that can reduce their costs and accelerate sales using our unique metro-wide fiber optic network and the strategic partnerships that we will be announcing soon.”
For those of us who have followed Lavidge’s career, this latest move is a natural next step for an individual who is passionate about ideas, entrepreneurship, and making a difference.
“Creativity and innovation thrive in a structure and with a process,” Lavidge told us during one of our teknovation.biz conversations several years ago. In my view, there is no better way to characterize what the “GIGTANK” provides than this sentence.
Lavidge moved to Chattanooga in 2013, less than a year after joining Variable and initially working for the company from Knoxville.
We first profiled the third-generation Knoxvillian in late 2012 in a teknovation.biz post. This was nearly five years after Lavidge had returned to his hometown after nearly a decade of studying business and working with start-ups in Iowa and California. His passion was focused on bringing the best of what he learned in those previous 10 years to Knoxville to help the city become a hotbed for entrepreneurship.
One of Lavidge’s early initiatives was Knoxville Overground (KO), a vehicle to connect self-employed professionals and start-up entrepreneurs, so they could share ideas and work together. Within months of the first meeting at a Panera restaurant, the group grew to a point where its volunteers founded Knoxville’s first co-working space and entrepreneur community center.
Other initiatives that had Lavidge’s imprint included TEDxKnoxville, 48-Hour Launch, Envision Knoxville, Knoxville Twestival, Creative Mixed Use Symposium, InnovativeKnoxville.com, and Lunch 2.0 among others. In May of 2011, Fast Company magazine called him a “brilliant urbanite” in Tennessee for these efforts.
The energy and passion that many Knoxvillians still recall fondly about Lavidge will now be unleashed even more in Chattanooga.