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Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
January 24, 2017 | Tom Ballard

OUTLOOK SERIES PART 8: Any additional insights to share?

2016-outlook(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the final article in our annual multi-part series sharing the insights of angel and venture investors who are either located in East Tennessee or have a specific interest in investment opportunities here. We have been rotating the order of responses on a daily basis.)

The final question that we posed to our angel and venture capital panel was the open-ended one: “Do you have additional insights you want to share?”

Ken Woody, Partner in Innova Memphis – Several local players in East Tennessee are starting new funds, and the focus continues to be on early stage. Collaboration is strong, and new technology is exciting. It’s a great time to be an investor.

Eric Dobson, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Angel Capital Group – We believe we are witnessing the dawn of a new run-up in the economy based on the combination of advanced materials and advanced manufacturing, shift of focus from traditional fee-for-service to value-based revenue models in healthcare, big data analytics combined with any number of application areas, and a redefinition of “tech” investing around productivity enhancement. Approximately every 30 – 50 years, we see an economic crash that is followed by a period of great economic expansion (roaring 20’s, nifty 50’s, tech run-up in the 90’s, etc.). Although, we can’t definitively state the last recession period is completely behind us, we believe we are. Given an expected shift in Securities and Exchange Commission policy, the next few years should be a very exciting time to be in the angel capital market. We are already seeing the budding giants of tomorrow forming now.

Andrew Goldner, Founding Partner, GrowthX – No additional input.

Tony Lettich, Managing Director, The Angel Roundtable – We are very bullish about the prospects of entrepreneurs and investors within the state and Southeast region in 2017. The foundations have been established. Should the entrepreneurial ecosystem growth trajectory continue, the future of entrepreneurialism in Tennessee is bright.

Kristina Montague, Managing Partner, The JumpFund – At The JumpFund, we are excited that the conversation around women-led ventures and diverse teams has shifted significantly in our state and region. This year, four of the eight companies in “The TENN” are women-led, and two are JumpFund investments. And the past two years, a woman-led company has won “36/86,” LaunchTN’s regional entrepreneurial showcase. Nationally, more capital is being circled and invested in women, by women which is a huge shift in the angel investor landscape. It is fulfilling to see that in just three years of our existence as a fund, there has been both a national and regional shift in focus and interest in the opportunity to invest in women-led ventures. We hope to see even more strong ventures emerge in 2017 founded by and invested in by women.

Geoff Robson, President, and John Morris, Executive Vice President, The Lighthouse Fund – Robson: We are looking forward to our biggest and best year in 2017 after adding three new portfolio companies giving us a total of six. We also completed a couple of follow-on investments in existing portfolio companies. We are targeting three or four new portfolio company investments in 2017. Our investors are excited about our progress and what is happening in East Tennessee.

Jack Studer, Managing Director, and Courtney Watson, Partner, both with the Chattanooga Renaissance Fund – No additional input.

Grady Vanderhoofven, Fund Manager of Meritus Ventures and President and CEO of Three Roots Capital – I would like to see Tennessee state government become more aggressive and proactive with respect to investing some portion of the current budget surplus in activities that have the potential to produce the growth companies (jobs and wealth) of the future.

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