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October 22, 2023 | Tom Ballard

LaunchTN brings its “Capital Conversations” series to Knoxville

The early Thursday evening event featured Monique Villa, Launch Tennessee's Chief Investment Officer, and Shane Jackson, Senior Vice President with Pinnacle Financial Partners.

Launch Tennessee brought its “Capital Conversations” series to Knoxville Thursday evening with about 150 people pre-registering for networking and a program at the Press Room.

Monique Villa and Shane Jackson

Hosted in conjunction with Pinnacle Financial Partners, the two-hour event featured Monique Villa, Launch Tennessee’s outgoing Chief Investment Officer (see recent article here), and Shane Jackson, Senior Vice President with Pinnacle.

As any regular reader would conclude, much of the focus during the conversation was on the newly implemented “InvestTN” program, a $70 million equity fund that Launch Tennessee manages for the State of Tennessee. Of that amount, $58 million is earmarked for investments in start-ups, and the remaining $12 million being invested in venture funds.

The funds come from the federal State Small Business Credit Program that allocated almost $117 million to Tennessee. The other $47 million is managed by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

Daniel Lee (Perseus Materials), Phil Stuckey (FC Renew), and Anca Timofte (Holocene)

Many of those in attendance had either applied for funds or were considering doing so as the majority were start-up entrepreneurs like those pictured at left.

Villa noted that six commitments have been made thus far, subject to “their legal due diligence.” She added that more than 400 inquiries have been received, no doubt many are applications, and Launch Tennessee expects to make about 140 investments from the $70 million. Those will range in size from $25,000 to $3 million and be from pre-Seed to Series B.

“Each of our dollars is catalytic,” Villa explained, meaning they are intended to be matched by other funding. The minimum match is one-to-one, but it would ideally be as much as 10-to-1.

Both Villa and Jackson emphasized the importance of start-ups having a competent and qualified Certified Public Accountant, lawyer, and banker.

Brandon Bruce

Prior to the conversation, Brandon Bruce, the newly named Managing Director of the “Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator,” pitched his hopes that a number of start-ups from the local area, Tennessee, and the Southeast would apply. Techstars is accepting applications through November 29. More information, including a link to the application, can be found in this recent article.

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