Calling Nashville’s top entrepreneurs, visionaries, disruptors, and game-changers, transforming the world by turning their ideas into reality.

The NEXT Awards + Entrepreneurs' Hall of Fame event exists to shine a light on a diverse roster of Middle Tennessee businesses, at every stage, and in every industry who are helping make Nashville the best place in America to start and grow a business.

2019 Award Categories
  • Entertainment, Sports, and Media: Businesses operating in any areas of the entertainment, sports, and media industries.

  • Health Care: Businesses operating in any areas of the healthcare industry.

  • Products and Services: Businesses offering goods and services that target a consumer or business market. From main street retail to wall street business services, your company is driving growth.

  • Social Enterprise and Sustainability: Businesses that address a basic unmet human need, solve a social problem, or prioritize reducing environmental impact through a market-driven approach. Nonprofit, Not-For-Profit, and For-Profit social enterprises qualify.

  • Technology: Businesses whose primary offering is a technology product, service, or tech-enabled service. Hardware and software offerings qualify.

All of the above categories have two awards given:

  1. Startup: Businesses 5 years old or younger

  2. Market Mover: Businesses older than 5 years

Other Award Criteria:

  • Business must be headquartered in Middle Tennessee

  • Prior year finalists may apply for any applicable category

  • Prior year winners are ineligible to apply in the same category as prior year

  • Both quantitative and qualitative information will be used in judging


Entrepreneur of 2019: Awarded to an entrepreneur for their contribution to the development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. This award considers both past entrepreneurial success and efforts cultivating the larger entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Young Entrepreneur of 2019: Awarded to an Entrepreneur under 30 running a business in any industry. This award utilizes the same criteria as the industry awards.

Corporate Ambassador of the Year: Awarded to a business for its cultivation of the larger entrepreneurial ecosystem. Such activities include, but are not limited to: supporting entrepreneurial education and training for their own employees; running entrepreneur-friendly business practices such as pitch events, pilot programs, or other activities; committing time and resources to supporting entrepreneurs or organizations that support entrepreneurs.


The selection of winners for the NEXT Awards is a multistage process.  The first round of judging will be led by Nashville CPA firm, KraftCPAs, with the second round consisting of judges by category. These judges represent Nashville business leaders who demonstrate a strong level of industry expertise, passion for innovation, and exemplary commitment to the startup ecosystem. The deadline for application submissions is July 14th. Award finalists will be announced on August 26th and winners will be announced at the NEXT Awards + Entrepreneurs’ Hall of Fame event on November 6th.


The 2019 NEXT Awards + Entrepreneurs' Hall of Fame will take place on November 6, 2019. 


The NEXT Awards recognize the entrepreneurs, startups, and entrepreneurial-minded businesses who make a significant impact on the economy in Middle Tennessee. All stages of companies, from emerging startups to well-established market movers, are celebrated during this event as contributors to making Nashville one of the best cities in the U.S. to start a business

Each year the Nashville Entrepreneur Center inducts a new class into its Entrepreneurs' Hall of Fame. This honor celebrates visionary business leaders and companies who have laid a foundation of support and helped foster entrepreneurship in Nashville. These innovative leaders have made an indelible mark on Music City and represent both the great past and bright future of Nashville.

Game Changer Sponsor

Visionary Sponsors

Innovator Sponsor

Rebel Sponsor

Interested in becoming a sponsor of NEXT Awards + Entrepreneurs' Hall of Fame? Please contact:
Anne Elizabeth McIntosh, VP of Community Investment