Charlie Brock is the CEO and President of Launch Tennessee, an organization Making Tennessee the #1 place in the Southeast to start and grow a company. In this interview, he sits down to talk about his background, a few different projects happening at LaunchTN and the future of entrepreneurship in the region. You can listen to the full interview and check out some highlights below.
Blake: Why is it that you’re doing what you’re doing? A lot of people can say the what, but not the why.
Charlie: I love helping people and I love entrepreneurs. I love being around entrepreneurs, and I love helping them. I think they are just so important and I really think they can change the world. Not only with the products and things they come up with, but also changing communities and changing lives and building companies that can positively impact employees that work there as well as the surrounding community. So I think of it as a virtuous circle where you have success- whether you grow up and add a bunch of jobs, or you sell pretty quickly like I did- and then try to encourage not only through your own giving but through your investors, telling them to give back to philanthropy and help other entrepreneurs start businesses.
Blake: Tell us a little bit about the TENN Master Accelerator and what that looks like and how can folks can get involved in that.
Charlie: We’re so excited about this program. We started it in the Fall of 2013 and the idea is: can we give Level 2 support to some of the top companies that come through our entrepreneur centers across the state? So this will be our third class, and it’s a great process. The companies can apply and then we have over twenty-five different judges- accelerator leaders, as well as investors from across the state and region- evaluate all these applications and then choose the best companies. Our class we just announced has eight companies, including the two out of Project Music which we’re really excited about working with. So the idea with this is a little different than the intensive day-by-day program of say Project Music or Jumpstart Foundry at the Entrepreneur Center. These teams are working across the state and we bring them here to Nashville every three weeks for two days at a time for learning days. In those learning days, we’ll spend time with them and bring in qualified mentors and experts in fields such as legal and finance. We’re also going to spend a lot of time in terms of customer acquisition models and what that looks like as well as go-to market. We also have branding experts. So we do that really from late October through early January, and then it becomes about networking and exposure.
Blake: What are your words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there in thirty seconds or less. Go.
Charlie: Find the right people who can help your business. Find a mentor and find strategic investors- not just money investors but strategic investors who buy into you and buy into your vision and your passion about what you’re doing.
Blake: Any final thoughts?
Charlie: Thank you guys for what you’re doing. I appreciate the kudos to LaunchTN, but it really is all of us and the good things that the EC is doing which are incredible, and good things happening across the state. One of our core values is collaborate, and we believe in collaboration very much. That’s what makes 1+1 become 3 and that’s really attractive to startups and investors and others. It’s a really exciting time and it’s cool to be linking in-arms and pushing ahead with people like you all.