LaunchTN’s 36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival panel sessions with TAEBC Executive Director, Innovation Crossroads Cohort Three, highlight value of Energy Mentor Network

LaunchTN’s 36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival celebrates visionaries and innovators who are actively shaping their entrepreneurial ecosystems through their expertise, research and forward-thinking ideas. 

During the 10-day, virtual festival, Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council Executive Director, Cortney Piper, spoke in a panel session about innovation partnerships, while the Innovation Crossroads Cohort Three startups held a live Q&A session with alumni Megan O’Connor of Nth Cycle. O’Connor and the Cohort Three startups are enrolled in TAEBC’s Energy Mentor Network program.  

The “Startup, Inc.: Advancing Strategy with Innovation Partnerships” panel session featured Piper; Reed Hayes, AVP of Digital Strategy & Innovation at Unum; and Anthony Oni, Co-founder and CEO of Cloverly, and Vice President Corporate Communications at Southern Company Gas. The panel was moderated by Daley Ervin, the Managing Director of Engage. 

Participants discussed how investing in innovation partnerships can be lucrative for small or large businesses, and can help rapidly increase scale for emerging companies or advance existing strategies for market incumbents. They explained how and why companies and organizations invest in establishing these partnerships, along with how other businesses can benefit from doing the same.

Piper spoke about the mission of TAEBC to champion advanced energy as an “economic development and job creation strategy,” along with the Energy Mentor Network, which is run by TAEBC in partnership with LaunchTN. One of the main goals of the Energy Mentor Network, said Piper, is to “foster the growth of advanced energy companies and technologies in the state of Tennessee.” 

In the final segment of the panel, Piper explained that the Energy Mentor Network helps startups learn how to “concisely and compellingly” tell their story, understand that “just because a company can partner with you, doesn’t mean they will,” and to be persistent when reaching out to potential partners or sources of funding.

Meanwhile, the “Live AMA with ORNL’s Innovation Crossroads” showcased O’Connor sitting down with seven members of Cohort Three to discuss what is next on the frontiers of cleantech and energy. Cohort Three includes Williams Fitzhugh of American Nanotechnologies Inc., Hicham Ghossein of Endeavor Composites Inc., Jesse Claypoole of MantaPoole Technologies, Leila Safavi of Purist Inc., Trevor McQueen of Neptune Fluid Flow Systems, Alex Lewis of Electro-Active Technologies Inc., and Jesse Thornburg of Grid Fruit

During the session, Cohort Three startups answered questions ranging from what advice they would give to burgeoning entrepreneurs to how the Tennessee ecosystem has helped their companies over the past year.

“This area has so much to offer. It’s so accessible,” explained McQueen. “It has helped every facet of our business grow. We couldn’t be happier.” 

Safavi remarked that the best piece of advice she would give to new entrepreneurs or researchers is to have a “great support group.”

“Without them pushing me forward at times when I had doubt, without their support, it wouldn’t be possible,” she continued. “Having a good group of supporters that can advise you and help you move forward is key.”

O’Connor echoed Safavi’s advice about the importance of support systems, saying, “I think that’s one of the great benefits of Innovation Crossroads, having that really early stage support behind you.”

To learn more about the Energy Mentor Network program or become a mentor, click here.

LaunchTN’s Virtual Workshop: SBIR/STTR Accounting

Congratulations! Your company has received a Phase I SBIR/STTR award. Now what? RSVP here

In this webinar, we will cover the basics required to establish a sound accounting system in Phase I, along with some basic finance rules to follow as you complete your work and draw down funding from the awarding agency. We’ll also help prepare you for a Phase II award, where indirect rates can be negotiated and more stringent rules and an audit are the norm.

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (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/STTR enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization.

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

TAEBC wants your feedback, highlights resources for small businesses during COVID-19 pandemic

During this time of crisis, TAEBC is continuing to champion advanced energy as an economic development and job creation strategy for the state and provide businesses and entrepreneurs with the resources they need to weather this storm. 

To start, TAEBC wants your feedback about what the industry needs to remain solvent and thrive. What could your business use or need in a second round of federal stimulus? Please send your feedback to TAEBC here by email.

“Even in these challenging times, TAEBC continues to champion advanced energy as an economic development and job creation strategy for the state,” said Cortney Piper, Executive Director of TAEBC. “We are committed to our members and stakeholders in fostering the growth of Tennessee’s advanced energy technologies and startups.”

As one of TAEBC’s missions is to foster the growth of Tennessee’s advanced energy technologies and startups, we want to provide resources small businesses and entrepreneurs can use during this crisis. See the resources from Launch Tennessee (LaunchTN) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) below:

LaunchTN’s COVID-19 Updates, Resources and Tennessee Innovation Crowdsource Platform
LaunchTN has created a special webpage which includes guidance from health officials, updates from statewide network partners, resources to support small businesses and startups, webinars and other virtual learning opportunities, and other information as needed. Browse the list of resources here.

LaunchTN is also partnering with Governor Bill Lee’s COVID-19 Unified Command to invite proposed solutions to the critical challenges the state now faces. Companies, including entrepreneurs and startups, are encouraged to submit proposals via the Tennessee Innovation Crowdsource Platform, which will allow them to evaluate, perform due diligence and recommend selected solutions to state procurement specialists for fast-track treatment.

All innovators are invited to participate, regardless of whether they’re able to scale at the level needed right now. This long-term project will address immediate needs and continue to serve the state far into the future.

SBA Disaster Assistance
Tennessee small businesses are now eligible for disaster assistance from SBA. Businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic may apply for up to $2 million in federal assistance to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue. To learn more about the application process and loan parameters, click here. To apply, follow this link.

The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act
The programs and initiatives found in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act recently passed by Congress are intended to assist business owners with whatever needs they have right now. There are many new resources available for small businesses, as well as certain nonprofits and other employers. This guide provides information about the major programs and initiatives that are available from the SBA to address these needs, as well as some additional tax provisions that are outside the scope of SBA.

Innovation Week on the Hill

Join us for a celebration of Tennessee’s thriving entrepreneurial community.

You’ll meet startup founders, ecosystem builders, and other constituents working to make Tennessee the most startup-friendly state in the nation.

RSVP by email to Tia@launchtn.org

 

When: Tuesday, February 25, 2020

5:30PM – 8:00PM

 

Where: Musicians Hall of Fame

401 Gay Street

Nashville, TN

Note: The venue is directly across from Cordell Hull

 

Launch Tennessee adopts updated strategic plan, emphasizes capital formation, market building, and resource deployment

Launch Tennessee’s (LaunchTN) Board of Directors recently adopted an updated version of its strategic plan at its latest quarterly meeting. The updated plan emphasizes three key strategies: capital formation, market building, and systemic resource deployment. 

Capital Formation
According to the plan, one of LaunchTN’s strategies is to “expand capital resources and expedite their availability to TN businesses so that they can grow, be sustainable, create jobs, and build accessible economic prosperity for our state.” To achieve this strategy, LaunchTN’s objectives are to increase access to available LaunchTN capital and proactively engage with investors across the state, country, and world to improve access to non-LaunchTN capital. The organization will also develop outbound marketing initiatives to target other investors. 

Market Building
Building upon capital formation, LaunchTN intends to “identify and recruit recognized leaders in relevant markets to drive a systemic solution for stakeholders to engage, connect, and achieve mutually beneficial results by working together.” To adhere to this strategy, LaunchTN has three main objectives: build an accountable environment of systemic teamwork, collaboration, and communication with market and ecosystem builders; optimize corporate/big company engagement with startups; and develop outbound marketing initiatives targeting market and ecosystem builders. 

Systemic Resource Deployment
LaunchTN wrote that it aims to “streamline the connection of our statewide Network Partners and other stakeholders to resources that enable a high-functioning ecosystem in Tennessee for entrepreneurship.” LaunchTN has outlined four objectives in order to work toward this strategy: enhance and drive connectivity and convening; establish competitive policy influence; implement and optimize information systems; and develop and execute an outbound marketing strategy. 

In addition to other changes, CEO Margaret Dolan highlighted the organization’s new mission and vision statement to include the words “empowering a network of resources.” 

One of TAEBC’s commitments to our members and stakeholders is to foster the growth of Tennessee’s advanced energy technologies and startups. TAEBC works to fulfill this goal through our Energy Mentor Network that serves as one of LaunchTN’s Statewide Network Partners and pairs knowledgeable mentors with promising new companies and entrepreneurs in the region. 

Currently, the Energy Mentor Network has six participating startups who are working through the structured program, which involves panel presentations and mentoring sessions. The purpose of the program is to help develop and support quality advanced energy startups. Four startups have graduated from the program to date. To learn more about Energy Mentor Network startups or become a mentor, click here.