36|86 Festival Ends

This year 36|86 is going global with a fully interactive digital experience! Join leading innovators, pioneers, investors & visionaries in this Launch TN festival dedicated to shaping the future of business. Enjoy 10 days, 40+ sessions, and countless speakers, conversations, and stories designed to inspire, inform, and connect.

Learn more here.

36|86 Festival Begins

This year 36|86 is going global with a fully interactive digital experience! Join leading innovators, pioneers, investors & visionaries in this Launch TN festival dedicated to shaping the future of business. Enjoy 10 days, 40+ sessions, and countless speakers, conversations, and stories designed to inspire, inform, and connect.

Learn more here.

LaunchTN Webinar: USDA Opportunities for Small Businesses

The US Department of Agriculture offers a variety of financing and commercial opportunities for small businesses related to important scientific problems and opportunities in agriculture. The programs stimulate technological innovations in the private sector and strengthen the role of federal research and development in support of small businesses.

This interactive webinar will provide an overview of the numerous small business resources provided by USDA, give helpful tips on what makes a great application, provide insights and strategies on which opportunities best align with your company’s vision, and answer any questions you have about these funding opportunities.

Register here!

Virtual Workshop: SBIR/STTR Federal Research Grants – A Deep Dive

Update: This workshop will now be offered virtually. Please stay tuned for specific call-in details.

Register for this workshop, hosted by Launch Tennessee and Tennessee State University, to get in-depth exposure to federal grant funding opportunities and learn of resources specifically available to Tennesseans. RSVP HERE!

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a highly competitive federal program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in research and development that has the potential for commercialization. Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization.

In addition, LaunchTN maintains a portfolio of resources for Tennessee-based entrepreneurial researchers to advance their commercialization efforts. These resources include:

  1. Networks programs that pair mentors with promising new companies and entrepreneurs;
  2. Microgrants that provide financial support for grant-writing assistance to Tennessee-based early-stage companies; and
  3. the SBIR/STTR Matching Fund that provides non-dilutive capital to Tennessee-based companies upon their successful federal grant award.

Please direct any questions about this workshop to allie@launchtn.org.

This workshop is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

LaunchTN Startup Policy Workshop: Knoxville

Join LaunchTN for a workshop to learn from industry experts on navigating government-business issues and meet with policymakers!

RSVP Here!

Join LaunchTN and our partners at the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center for a workshop focused on startup policy. You’ll get an overview of what qualifies as a local, state, or federal issue; learn how to engage with policymakers to advocate for your business; and meet with regional policymakers to tell your story.

1 p.m.  Introductions: What do you hope to gain from today?

1:15 p.m. – Issues identification: What challenges can policy help solve? What level of government do these issues relate to?

2 p.m. – How to engage: What do you do when you’ve got a policymaker’s ear?

2:45 p.m. – Break

3 p.m. – Policymaker roundtables: Small group discussions with regional policymakers, rotating every 20 minutes.

4 p.m. – Closing remarks

Cancelled: Launch Tennessee Startup Policy Workshop in Knoxville

Join LaunchTN and KEC for a workshop to learn from industry experts on navigating government-business issues and meet with policymakers!

Join LaunchTN, D.C. startup policy group Engine, and the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center for a workshop focused on startup policy. You’ll get an overview of what qualifies as a local, state, or federal issue; learn how to engage with policymakers to advocate for your business; and meet with regional policymakers to tell your story.

RSVP Here!

36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival

Against the vibrant backdrop of downtown Nashville, entrepreneurs, investors and thought leaders nationwide will convene for 36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival. This two-day festival with workshops, panels, fireside chats and networking across five venues puts each attendee in charge of their own schedule regardless of business stage, background or industry.

Make your next move at 36|86 Aug. 28-29! Read more here!

SBIR Lunch and Learn

Ready to move your research from the lab to the marketplace? Want to learn more about how federal research grants can help you get there?

The Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) program is a highly competitive federal program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in research and development that has the potential for commercialization. Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization.

As part of LaunchTN’s SBIR Road Tour, we’re hosting in-person lunch and learns with panels of experienced SBIR/STTR winners and grant writers in local markets across Tennessee. Learn from those who have done it successfully.

Questions? Contact allie@launchtn.org.

Register here!

What is the ‘great entrepreneurial lie?’ That it’s all about the money

(Originally published: The Tennessean)

By: Charlie Brock, CEO & President of Launch Tennessee

Over the last five years as the CEO of Launch Tennessee, too often I’ve seen founders raise angel or seed funding, develop a product line and a small customer-base, but not gain any real traction.

First, they’re discouraged, and soon they’re out of cash. The worst part? They’ve convinced themselves, and often their board, that if they just raise that next round of funding, life will be good, and the company will be on track for success.

Here’s the reality, entrepreneurs: It’s not all about the money. In fact, that is the great entrepreneurial lie. Building a lasting business and brand is all about the hustle, and if you don’t have what it takes to give it your all, you’re not going to make it.

I began my own entrepreneurial journey at Foxmark Media in 1998, and I’ll be the first to admit that thanks to some personal capital from the sale of a family business along with four generations of family connections with prospective angel investors in the community, I had a leg up. For several years, I was able to bootstrap and take minimal to no salary.

Recognizing the limitations on my personal funding capacity, I got out there and hustled every single day to build a viable business worthy of funding from other people’s pockets.

When I didn’t have enough capital to hire a sales team, I spent nearly all my time making calls and driving to small markets across the region to get my product through the door.

Read more here.

Haslams have engaging fireside chat during “36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival”

(Originally published on Teknovation.biz)

Those who attended last year’s “36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival” in Nashville were impressed with the way in which Governor Bill Haslam moderated a fireside chat with FedEx Founder Fred Smith.

On Wednesday afternoon, Tennessee’s outgoing Chief Executive Officer (CEO) was up for an even greater challenge . . . moderating a fireside chat with another legend, in this case his father who founded Pilot Flying J Corporation 60 years ago. “Big Jim” Haslam, as he is affectionately known by many, and his youngest son had a humorous, insightful conversation that drew laughs and applause from an appreciative crowd at the Wild Horse Saloon.

The discussion over about a 45-minute period covered everything from the history of Pilot, founded as a single gas station, through the more recent acquisition of a minority stake by noted investor Warren Buffet and ended with  the senior Haslam’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs.

The first station was opened the year the Governor was born. As “Big Jim” explained that period, he needed a job and was offered one as a high school coach but the salary would not begin for several months. He needed income then. As he looked around, the elder Haslam was offered a job selling ads for a local television station.

“I was not sure TV was going to make it,” he said laughingly.

By 1964-65, Pilot had grown to 12 stations, and Haslam sold one-half of the company to Marathon Oil Corporation, a transaction that provided expansion capital. In 1988, Pilot repurchased the stake held by Marathon, only to bring the corporation back as a partial owner in 2001 and again repurchase that interest in 2008.

Read more here.