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Companies reshaping startup scene on stage at tech conference

36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival, hosted by Launch Tennessee, will run Aug. 28-29 in Nashville

Nashville, Tenn. – Attracting more than 1,200 entrepreneurs, investors, students and innovation-ecosystem builders from across the US, 36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival offers a rare opportunity to see why innovative companies like Pilot.com are choosing to relocate from coastal hubs and scale in the South. Voices that represent the new startup South will be on stage at 36|86 in Nashville, Aug. 28-29. 

At 36|86, festival-goers can access speakers and investors who are driving change in their cities and learn from fireside chats, panels and workshops designed to give attendees tools to grow their businesses. In addition to practical advice, 36|86 also helps build connections with ample networking and entertainment options. 

The festival is hosted by Launch Tennessee (LaunchTN), a public-private partnership working to make Tennessee the most startup-friendly state in the nation.

“36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival puts a spotlight on the innovation and growth in the Southeast,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee. “Thanks to partners like Launch Tennessee, we are building both a technology workforce and the infrastructure needed to continue making our state a destination for the jobs of the future. We welcome entrepreneurs from across the country to see our business-friendly environment firsthand.” 

Taking the stage at 36|86 this year are innovators with varied backgrounds, job titles and ways of doing business. From cutting-edge health care executives to rule-breaking investors, speakers will discuss alternative funding sources, policies to grow a more favorable business environment and tips for navigating venture failures. 

Featured speakers include Alex Fenkell, co-founder of SmileDirectClub; Carolyn Rodz, founder of Alice, a free AI-driven website prioritizing women and underrepresented founders; and Seth Bernstein, president and CEO of AllianceBernstein.

This year, 36|86 is spread across five locations in downtown Nashville. The multi-venue layout allows for curated programming that addresses the needs of entrepreneurs at different stages and investors searching for diverse talent. 36|86 also boasts a number of lounge spaces, including a Women’s Lounge featuring programming and events tailored for female entrepreneurs, and a work lounge with free WiFi and refreshments, sponsored by Asurion.

The newest feature is the 36|86 Pavilion at Live On The Green, Nashville’s free outdoor music festival. An extension of 36|86 into Labor Day Weekend, the Pavilion is part of LaunchTN’s expanded partnership with Lightning 100, Nashville’s longest-running independent radio station.

The Pavilion will host a Job Fair Aug. 30, from 4-9 p.m. CT, and Aug. 31, from noon-8 p.m. CT. The casual networking environment will be open to job seekers looking to join a fast-growing startup, as well as young startups scouting for talent to scale their businesses. 

On Sept. 1, the 36|86 Pavilion will connect kids and robotics courtesy of the Adventure Science Center. 

Additionally, 36|86 will offer programming dedicated to students and young startup founders. The marquee student event at 36|86 is the Student Edition Live Pitch, an entrepreneur showcase and pitch competition that gives Tennessee student founders a platform to access funding, resources and marketing support. Finalists will compete Aug. 28 to win $60,000 in prizes. 

“36|86 is the culmination of our efforts to spark innovation and collaboration across the state, region and country,” said Margaret Dolan, president and CEO of LaunchTN. “Our team has built an experience that provides value for all attendees, from students on the cusp of discovery to leading CEOs who challenge the status quo. 36|86 is for innovators everywhere.”  

Tickets for 36|86 are available at www.attend3686.com. Tickets start at $279 now through July 31. Attendees have the option for upgrades, such as VIP access to Live On The Green for $80, to further customize the 36|86 experience. 

Featured Speakers

Alex Fenkell – Alex Fenkell is the co-founder of SmileDirectClub, pioneer of doctor-directed, remote invisible aligner therapy. Founded in 2014, SmileDirectClub is now valued at $3.2B and employs more than 4,300 people. 

Allie BurnsAllie Burns serves as the CEO at Village Capital, bringing more than 16 years of experience working with entrepreneurs and innovators at the intersection of tech and social change. She previously served as a senior executive at Revolution and the Case Foundation, the venture capital firm and private family foundation created by former AOL executives Jean and Steve Case. 

Ben Jacobs – Ben Jacobs is the Head of Ventures for Mars Petcare’s Kinship division, helping accelerate startups from the global leader in petcare. His efforts include the $100M Companion Fund and Leap Venture Studio for early-stage companies. 

Carolyn Rodz Carolyn Rodz, a Latina three-time entrepreneur featured in Entrepreneur, Fortune, Inc. and Fast Company, is the founder of Alice, a free AI-driven website prioritizing women and underrepresented founders. 

Hadiyah Mujhid Hadiyah Mujhid is the founder and CEO of HBCUvc, a nonprofit organization that educates and trains black and Latinx populations in technology entrepreneurship and venture capital to create racially equitable economies.

Seth Bernstein – Seth Bernstein is the president and CEO of AllianceBernstein. Prior to his appointment at AB, Bernstein had a distinguished 32-year career at JPMorgan Chase, most recently as managing director and global head of Managed Solutions & Strategy at J.P. Morgan Asset Management. 

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About Launch Tennessee
Launch Tennessee is a public-private partnership that supports entrepreneurs from ideation to exit, guided by a vision of making Tennessee the most startup-friendly state in the nation. Partnering with Entrepreneur Centers in six regions, Launch Tennessee creates collaboration among entrepreneurs, the private sector, capital sources, institutions and government to offer entrepreneurs what they need to succeed and stay in Tennessee to build companies and create jobs. Visit LaunchTN.org to discover what makes Tennessee a great state for startups.

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