Entrepreneurs, technologists, new graduates, and small businesses are flocking to Nashville — perhaps the country’s “biggest small town” — to take their shot at achieving the modern American dream:
Startup and disrupt — from anywhere.
So, why Nashville? The appeal starts with a low cost of living, warm weather, an unbeatable music scene, great night life, city safety, nice people, great economy, top education institutions and much more. Recently, Nashville has made national headlines for innovation and research, spawning a host of new tech-based business ideas. This leaves commentators and spectators alike to muse, "What's next for the Southeast startup ecosystem?"
Startups don’t just disrupt markets. In many ways they disrupt the social ecosystem as well, often resulting in feelings of founder and team isolation. We’re all in this together, but where?
Entrepreneurs in the Southeast aren’t just forming companies but also the new paradigms for work. Business in Nashville feels different than in NYC, Boston, and Silicon Valley. The startup vibe here is new, fresh, and innocent, but when the launch excitement starts to wear off, founders realize they need shared resources, mentors, classes — and connection.
Over the past year, Nashville's first co-working spaces added an alternative to home offices and coffee shops, addressing the needs of isolated entrepreneurs by starting creative, open environment facilities including CoLab downtown, Center 615, Moonbase, Fort Houston and E-Spaces.
Nashville's Entrepreneur Center is the latest talk of the town. The 20,000 square foot state-of-the-art center opened an expanded location on June 20th in the historic trolley barns off 1st Avenue. The EC is home to two accelerators: Nashville's Jumpstart Foundry and Healthbox. In-residence businesses and organizations include Evolve Women, Entrepreneur Organization, and Dell. The EC has also received attention in the past for pumping out Nashville's biggest startup talent. Nashville players include Evermind, Streamweaver, MedQB, ListenUp and LiveSchool.
Within the walls of co-working spaces, Nashvillians become techpreneurs, entrepreneurs, musicians, makers, technologists, and students of the national entrepreneurial scene.
Over the next several months I’ll continue to explore co-working spaces and discuss the opportunities and challenges of Nashville's co-working environment within our tech startup boom. Hope you'll join us and leave a comment about your experiences in the tech startup world!
Kelley Boothe is an entrepreneur from Geogetown, Kentucky. She currently lives in Nashville TN after graduating with a degree in Advertising from WKU. She is a cofounder and Marketing Manager for SouthernAlpha, a news publication for the southeast startup ecosystem. She eats ramen noodles and lives on the edge of her seat. You can follow Kelley on twitter @kelleyboothe.
[Nashville Entrepreneur Center photo source]