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February 21, 2021 | Tom Ballard

Leila Safavi-Tehrani, Rachel McCrickard recognized as “Forbes Next 1000” honorees

Two individuals with ties to East Tennessee have made the 2021 list of the “Forbes Next 1000″ honorees. The announcement includes the first installment of 250 entrepreneurs being recognized this year.

The two with East Tennessee ties are Leila Safavi-Tehrani, Co-Founder of Purist, one of the companies  in Cohort 3 of the “Innovation Crossroads” program operated by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Rachel McCrickard, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Motivo, a company that got its start in Chattanooga.

Sefavi-Tehrani and McCrickard join three other Tennessee honorees – two from Nashville and one from Memphis in the “Forbes Next 1000″ initiative. It is a year-round effort to showcase the ambitious sole proprietors, self-funded shops and pre-revenue start-ups in every region of the country—all with under $10 million in revenue or funding and infinite drive and hustle.

In its narrative about Safavi-Tehrani, the magazine writes that “knew she wanted to make a positive impact on healthcare after cancer ravaged two loved ones. With medical isotopes a vital ingredient in treating many life-threatening diseases, she became a licensed nuclear reactor operator and cofounded Purist in 2017, alongside her Ph.D. advisor. Purist uses vacant nuclear reactor infrastructure to produce radioactive ingredients needed daily to treat cancer and other diseases.”

McCrickard is a past winner of Chattanooga’s “Startup of the Year” award and participated in CO.LAB’s 2017 Accelerator. We spotlighted Motivo in this 2018 article. As described by Forbes in its recognition, Motivo is a “HIPAA-compliant video platform pairing new therapists with the clinical supervisors needed to undergo the licensure process. A licensed marriage and family therapist, McCrickard founded Motivo in 2017 out of frustration from the two-hour drive back and forth to meet the closest clinical supervisor during her own licensure process. To date, she has raised $5 million in funding at an estimated valuation of $12.5 million.”

The other Tennesseans named to the list this year are:

  • Falon Veit Scott of Nashville who founded Evolution Event Solutions in 2012 to give nonprofits the same high-level event experiences as corporate America. The business suffered a Covid-19 related revenue dip last year, but is slowly bouncing back using a mostly virtual and soon-to-be hybrid event model.
  • John Cascarano, also of Nashville. His latest venture, Beast Brands, sells personal care and grooming products, aims to be more environmentally friendly than its competitors by using bottles are recyclable and ingredients that are sustainably sourced.
  • Roshunda Buchanan of Memphis who founded 2Unique Community Salvation Foundation in 2012 to help the city’s youth receive mentorship and identify educational pathways to reach their career goals. The nonprofit brings industry trainers into school districts to reach 500 youths in six weeks.



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