The eight growth-stage startups that comprise Launch Tennessee’s The TENN Master Accelerator completed their roadshow across the state of Tennessee this week. We were able to catch their Nashville stop at redpepper and gained some insights about the state of entrepreneurship in Tennessee. Here are the main takeaways. (We also learned a few things from the roadshow last year.)
Science matters, and they matter in places we sometimes forget.
Without the strong network of research institutions that are part of the Volunteer State, some of these startups likely would have never even taken root in the region. Companies like Sweetbio and Grow Bioplastics are building their business on products that require scientific rigor and R&D beyond bug fixes.
They’ve also found these solutions for areas of our lives that we don’t always think about. Sweetbio utilizes the natural healing powers of Manuka honey to create dental membranes that promote faster healing, while Grow Bioplastics’ plastic sheeting for farmers is both biodegradable and mulchable. The market opportunity is incredible, as are the solutions they have developed.
VR and AI aren’t just for techies.
If asked, the immediate images of those who would be into VR likely did not include your grandparents. But Rendever is changing that assumption, one senior citizen at a time. Their research-based virtual reality platform improves the aging process by providing cognitive stimulation and social engagement for the elderly. And they have fans to prove it.
For Avrio Analytics, they’re on a mission to use their AI expertise into your sales and marketing team. Sybil, their new product now in beta, even brings in sentiment analysis to have a full understanding of any data, beyond what’s captured on a CRM.
Startups do reflect what’s driving their cities’ growth…
But the startup’s growth itself isn’t driven simply by those trends. For instance, RootsRated, a software-driven content marketing solutions for outdoor brands and destination marketers, is thriving in Chattanooga, a town consistently ranked as America’s best outdoor city. Utilize Health, a care coordination solution comprised of digital tools and concierge services provided to health plans and hospital systems to reduce care costs and improve patient health, is located in Nashville, where its healthcare industry generates more than $78 billion in revenue. Everly, also located in Nashville, is not a healthcare startup, but their natural, sugar-free drink mix addresses a major health issue caused by excess sugar in our diet.
While all three startups are in sectors that are also ‘popular’ for their respective cities, their journeys to startup growth cannot be summed up simply to that fact.
Half of this year’s master accelerator program are led by their women founders, a marked uptick from last year’s cohort. Moreover, the audience in the room for Nashville’s stop included more diverse faces than the previous year.
One startup also addressed one specific reality of women and work. MomSource Network connects educated, professional women to flexible full-time, permanent part-time, job-shared and telecommute opportunities.