Our friends at Powderkeg have released the Tennessee Tech Census, highlighting data gathered from founders, employees, investors and tech leaders from across the state. LaunchTN was proud to partner with Powderkeg on this important initiative to show #WhyTennessee is becoming the best place in the nation for startups.
Here are some of our favorite highlights below:
1. Tennessee has the kind of growth venture capital investors are seeking. More than 30 percent of the startups responding to the Tennessee Tech Census grew revenue by more than 80 percent in 2017. The highest of these came from Chattanooga where 55 percent of respondents grew revenue by 80 percent or higher. The startup ecosystem in Chattanooga is so strong that some say the energy is palpable, and LaunchTN looks forward to being a resource to the city as its startup scene continues to grow.
“When you come visit Chattanooga, you’ll feel that energy that there’s a collective effort to help founders succeed. That’s really important in the early days,” says Santosh Sankar, Wall Street transplant and co-founder of venture capital firm Dynamo.
2. Today, it is essential that we work together to increase diversity and better inclusion in tech, and in Tennessee, we have the opportunity to lead the way. Memphis scored higher on diversity than any other city surveyed by the U.S. Tech Census project to date, with 75 percent of respondents agreeing with the phrase, “We have a diverse community.”
“In Memphis, we’re intentional about cultivating entrepreneurs in a way that reflects the rich diversity of the people who live in the region,” says Louisa Shepherd, director of collective impact at Epicenter Memphis. “We’re fortunate to see successes from both women founders and founders of color on the rise.”
3. Community support and affordability make Tennessee THE place to be if you’re launching a business. The Tennessee Tech Census indicated that the top three reasons founders choose to grow their startups in Knoxville are the social network, affordable cost of living and affordable office space – and the same can be said for other cities across the state. In fact, 58 percent of tech employees surveyed said their household expenses are less than $50 thousand annually.
4. Tennessee’s diversifying investment scene should spur more startup growth in future years, and the Health Tech the sector is anticipated to see the most growth over the next five years.
“The tech funding scene in Nashville depends on the type of tech you have,” says Robert Wynkoop, founder of Patriot Technology. “If you’re a software company and you’re building an innovative healthcare solution with a good team, you’ll have a decent shot at getting seed money here.” But behind that is an impressive array of tech sectors anticipated to grow, including supply chain and logistics, IT and infrastructure, and advanced manufacturing. “Early on, Nashville was pretty much known as a healthcare town,” says Tom White, CEO of iQuantifi. “Now you’re seeing a lot of startups in areas other than healthcare. Diversity is happening.”