5 Reasons to Apply for a NEXT Award

July 2, 2020 / Share:


In 2010, the Nashville Entrepreneur Center was founded with the mission to connect founders to critical resources that will help them create, launch and grow their businesses. In the ten years since then, we’ve become a community, a place to be creative, where new ideas are brought to life. 

We have become a place to celebrate the legacy of the entrepreneurs who have built the Nashville we know today. They are the founders who have created new business models in music, entertainment, healthcare and so many other industries, and who continue to mentor and invest in the rising class of new entrepreneurs. As we celebrate that legacy, it’s also our honor to keep the entrepreneurial cycle alive as we fuel economic growth for Nashville’s next generation, the entrepreneurs who will shape the city we dream of tomorrow. 

In one spectacular night devoted to exceptional entrepreneurs, the Nashville Entrepreneur Center’s 2020 NEXT Awards will celebrate the achievements of those who create new opportunities, transform industries, grow economies and improve lives in Nashville and far beyond. 

But what does a NEXT Award winner really look like? What do they do? And why should you apply or nominate someone you know? Here are five reasons why you should apply today, and some past winners who exemplify what it means to be a NEXT Award winner:

1. You’ve pivoted your company to serve a part of the community that is struggling.

2020 has been a difficult year for many, but Nashville’s entrepreneurs have shown that they can not only survive the challenges that have come our way, but to thrive in their wake. We have seen so many companies pivot to serve our community. From moving to all-virtual products and services to donating profits to aid those in need, these companies have exemplified Nashville’s passion for taking care of our neighbors, being adaptable to any situation, and bouncing back stronger than ever.

Music City Tents & Events (2018 Products and Services Market Mover, founded by Joe Freedman) make big events possible in Nashville, by bringing tents, catering and other event services to their clients. While they normally focus on weddings, non-profit fundraisers and shows, they pivoted to offer their tents as pop-up testing sites during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

2. You’ve significantly grown your company and contributed to Nashville’s economy.

Nashville’s economy is built on a foundation of entrepreneurship, and that means that when entrepreneurs do well, Nashville does too. Whether that means growing a team of two to a team of 200, or bringing millions of dollars into Nashville’s economy, the best businesses know that what they do affects the people and businesses around them, and take every opportunity to learn and grow. 

Soles4Souls (2018 Social Enterprise Market Mover, founded by Wayne Elsey) breaks the cycle of poverty and saves the planet, by helping people experiencing poverty launch and sustain small businesses selling donated shoes and clothing. These services help transform lives around the world, not only here in Nashville! In 2019, they reported that they have generated over $404,430,215 in global economic impact since they were founded in 2006.

3. You’ve transformed your industry and changed lives in the process.

Maybe you’re the founder of a health tech company, making it easier for doctors to save lives. Maybe you’re the founder of an entertainment company that makes it easier for artists to get paid for their work. Whatever your industry, the NEXT Awards was built to celebrate those businesses that have turned their verticals upside down, and helped people live better lives because of it. 

Healthcare Bluebook (2019 Healthcare Market Mover, founded by Jeff Rice) connects patients with the high quality care for an affordable price. By providing a transparent database of physicians and their referral rates, that means they can help people find better healthcare, faster, cheaper.

4. You continue to invest in and mentor the entrepreneurs coming up behind you.

Successful entrepreneurs give back; they mentor those following behind them, invest in new businesses, and offer their wins and losses as a blueprint for future entrepreneurs. They know that navigating entrepreneurship is a lonely process, and they come up beside young founders with advice and support, because they know that is how great businesses are built.

Founder of Jammber Marcus Cobb ( Entrepreneur of 2019) graduated from Project Music in 2015, but that hasn’t stopped him from returning regularly to speak with the entrepreneurs following in his footsteps! He shares his experience through panel discussions and 1-on-1 mentoring as he continues to give back.

5. The opportunity to be honored by Nashville’s entrepreneurial community.

You’ve worked hard on your business and spent so many sleepless nights making sure it would work. You’ve pivoted when hardships arose, and you’ve invested in those who have followed behind you. You exemplify what it means to be a founder, and it’s time for you to stand up and be recognized as a part of what makes Nashville such a great place to start and run a business. 

Make 2020 your year. Apply for your NEXT Award, or nominate a founder today! Then, keep an eye out for more information on the 2020 NEXT Awards, coming soon.

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