Navigate Podcast - Episode 6: Funding Early Stage Startups

As a child, Phil Shmerling would scour the newspaper’s stock quotes with his father, investing only in companies he thought were the “coolest” at the time - baseball cards and Toys ‘R Us made the top of the list. While Phil’s financial expertise has greatly matured since then, listening to him describe Nashville’s entrepreneurial spirit, it’s clear his excitement for investing in people he believes in has only amplified with age.

Navigate Podcast - Episode 5: Underestimated Founders and Scaling Tech

Most budding entrepreneurs will look for any and every opportunity to help build their small businesses.

And thankfully there’s a ton of resources out there for startup companies looking to grow - ranging from government grants to pitch competitions with the promise of cash awards or investment funding. In fact, according to data compiled by online database PitchBook, in 2017 alone, venture capitalists gave away $85 billion to independent entrepreneurs.

Unfortunately for small business owners like Shani Dowell only 2.2% of all that money finds its way to female-founded enterprises. Dowell is the creator and CEO of Possip, a platform that simplifies feedback and communication between parents and schools.

Navigate Podcast - Episode 4: For Nashville’s Underestimated Entrepreneurs, There’s Support Around Every Corner

Will and Tiffany Acuff, co-founders of Corner to Corner, modeled their company’s mission after the same lesson - giving back to those around you. The self-described “scrappy” faith-based nonprofit began in 2011 out of their own home with a single purpose - to assist former offenders with finding meaningful employment - and has since grown to provide programming and outreach to multiple communities across Middle Tennessee.

Navigate Podcast - Episode 3: Mignon Francois Shares the Secret Ingredients in her Cupcake Collection

It’s the true story of sweet success, and if you were among the hundreds of hopeful entrepreneurs who joined us at the Entrepreneur Center a few weeks ago for the official launch party of our Navigate podcast, you could just about taste it in the air.

As she took to the stage, Mignon Francois, the woman behind the Cupcake Collection, one of Nashville’s most successful startups, we knew we were in for a real treat. “I don’t know, Clark,” she teased as she slipped a pair of headphones over her ears, then released the first of many wide smiles she would share with us that evening. “This is messing with my afro!”

Navigate Podcast - Episode 2: 5 Tips to Fostering the Right Mentor Relationship

At the height of the economic recession in 2009, Michael Brody-Waite quit his job at a Fortune 50 company to become an aspiring entrepreneur. Looking back now, he humbly admits, he had no idea what he was doing. “I know it says I’m CEO, but I had no idea how to be a CEO, how to [run] the business,” he revealed. “We were creating an industry that had never been done before without any investors or advisors.”

Navigate Podcast - Episode 1: How To Navigate Nashville’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

You know that business plan you have scribbled out on the back of a bar napkin? That Google Drive folder with all those great ideas for startups or tech platforms that will revolutionize an industry? That cool app you always wanted to create... If only you knew, “Where do I start and who do I talk to first?”.

Buckle up and get ready to test-drive Season One of Navigate, a brand-new podcast dedicated to helping budding business owners like yourself maneuver through the myriad of resources that make up Nashville’s fast-growing entrepreneurial ecosystem. Think of it as your GPS to business success!

Quit Killing Your Team

Most people recognize the importance of hiring. Building something from nothing requires a core team of smart creatives with a deep well of curiosity. These are the innovators who are able to connect ideas between multiple disciplines and offer new ways of looking at the world.

But what’s valued in the hiring process–freethinking, curiosity, creativity–is often forgotten in the day-to-day. And it’s your job to preserve this, for both yourself and your team.

Nashville's Top Entrepreneurs and Startups Recognized at 2018 NEXT Awards + Entrepreneurs' Hall of Fame

The 2018 NEXT Awards + Entrepreneurs' Hall of Fame, held November 7, 2018, at Rocketown celebrated the rebels, visionaries, and game changers who have made a significant impact on the economy in Middle Tennessee. All stages of companies, from emerging startups to well-established market movers, were celebrated during this SOLD OUT event as contributors to making Nashville one of the best cities in the U.S. to start a business.

How to Validate Your Marketing Ideas Without Breaking the Bank

Be Our Guest is a new feature on the EC blog highlighting thought leadership from our community - advisors, entrepreneurs, members, and more. Today's post is by Jordan Schneider. An entrepreneur and experienced digital marketer, Jordan is the Vice President of Marketing at DePalma Studios.

Want to meet with Jordan? Join the EC's Advisor Program! Learn more about it here.

Every Startup Pitch in the World Boils Down to Two Core Ingredients

Be Our Guest is a new feature on the EC blog highlighting thought leadership from our community - advisors, entrepreneurs, members, and more. 

Today's post is by Kris Kelso. Kris is an entrepreneur turned executive coach.  He has founded multiple companies, is an advisor at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, and is an Executive Advisor with The Alternative Board.  You can learn more about him at and

Renee Bobb: Building Opportunities Beyond Basketball

One of the joys of entrepreneurship is that it allows you to chase your lifelong passions and dreams. For Renee Bobb, that passion is basketball. From being an All-American in high school to playing Division I and representing her country playing for the US Navy, Renee has followed that passion her whole life.

However, when she moved to Nashville 10 years ago, she noticed that Nashville didn’t have any competitive basketball leagues. At that point, Renee had been an entrepreneur for a decade, so she thought to herself, “Hey, I can do something about this.” From that idea came the Music City Icons, a semi-professional women’s basketball team based right here in Nashville.

Nashville Entrepreneur Week's Catfish Tank Pitch Competition Companies Announced

This week (May 15-18) is Nashville Entrepreneur Week! From Tuesday-Friday, Nashville's entrepreneurial community will come together to learn from each other through an amazing lineup of speakers. Topics range from validating your business idea to healthcare, raising capital, leadership, and more. 

One of the final events on Friday is the Catfish Tank (a Nashville Predators-themed name playing off of Shark Tank), a pitch competition between 10 teams with the opportunity to win $10,000. We are so excited that 8 out of the 10 teams chosen to pitch are part of the EC community! Learn more about them below, and RSVP here.

6 Idea Stage Entrepreneurs Featured at PreFlight Pitch Night

On the evening of May 1, Nashville's business community gathered at the EC for PreFlight Pitch Night, a celebration of the entrepreneurs graduating from Session 1 2018 of our PreFlight program. 14 weeks ago, a group of 20+ entrepreneurs came to the EC with just an idea. They spent every Monday night learning and working on a business plan, meeting with advisors, and slowly forming that idea into a viable, tangible business. At PreFlight Pitch Night, 6 of those entrepreneurs gathered to pitch their ideas to the public and a panel of judges for the first time. We could not be more proud of them and so thankful all of you came out to support them!