By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
Organizers of the third annual “Nashville Entrepreneur Week” (NEW) have big plans for the four-day celebration that starts May 6.
We caught-up recently with Elizabeth Duffield, the University of Virginia graduate who came to Nashville in 2016 as a Fellow in the Venture for America (VFA) entrepreneurial program and fell in love with the city. Now, three years later, she’s teamed-up with Sam Butler to co-lead the all-volunteer effort.
“It’s a free event for creators, founders, and anyone who wants to be involved in building our community,” Duffield explained, adding, “All events are community-led.” That means that individuals submit suggestions for programming during the four days. Application deadline is March 31, so you need to act now if you are interested. You can do so at this link.
For the 2019 event, Duffield says most of the programming will be focused in one of three tracks. There will be sessions for high-growth companies, “solopreneurs,” and brick and mortar. As you might imagine, we asked about the latter.
“We thought it was important to include brick and mortar as one of the tracks this year to highlight and support entrepreneurs whose companies primarily drive business to physical spaces, not just online,” Duffield explained. “Brick and mortar spaces are not traditionally emphasized in entrepreneurship events, but they also contribute to the ecosystem.”
The NEW organizers also have another key goal.
“We want to be inclusive,” she said. “Our goal is connecting folks and providing actionable events.”
The organizers expect 2019 to be the best week yet. They have secured more sponsorships than in prior years, but are still seeking additional funding. As far as the schedule, the kick-off party is set for May 6 followed by morning and afternoon sessions on the next three days. More details will be posted soon at this link.
On the last day, NEW will hold its annual pitch competition named “Catfish Tank” where the area’s top start-ups will compete for $10,000. It will be a “Shark Tank” style event with a five-minute pitch followed by five minutes of feedback from the judges. All participants must be an early stage business, having raised no more than $2 million. Those interested should apply soon at this link.
Duffield is representative of the vibrant Nashville entrepreneurial scene. As a VFA Fellow, she came to Music City and served in two marketing roles for Stratasan, a local start-up, for about two years before moving to Trilliant Health as Director of Demand Generation. This is Duffield’s second year on the NEW leadership team.