REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL: Industry Network Partners in Financial Technology and Consumer Product Goods


Expansion of LaunchTN Industry Network Partners in Financial Technology and Consumer Product Goods


LaunchTN supports entrepreneurship and innovation throughout the state of Tennessee, with a goal to make Tennessee a top state in the nation for entrepreneurs and innovators. LaunchTN strategic priorities include 1) the commercialization of technologies and products, 2) increasing the availability and accessibility of capital, and 3) connecting founders to entrepreneurship resources across the state.

The LaunchTN Industry Network Partners support Tennessee startups within key industry sectors. These industry sectors represent industries instrumental to the continued growth of Tennessee’s economy, with a focus on young, innovative companies commercializing technology, attracting investment capital, and furthering research and development. 

This is a call for partners for our two new Industry Network focus areas: financial technology and consumer products.

MENTOR NETWORK + additional early-stage company support

LaunchTN intends to leverage existing best practices from our current roster of Industry Network Partners, which include energy, agriculture technology, automotive and mobility and the life sciences to guide and inform desired activities and outcomes from two new Industry Network Partners, specialized in financial technology and consumer products.

One component of Industry Network must be a dedicated Mentor Network, led by an Entrepreneur-in-Residence, and functioning in alignment with the Mentor Networks of the other industry verticals with a goal to help early-stage companies address potential gaps in seven areas: business model, marketing plan, financial model and projections, intellectual property, valuation, market analysis, and financing. The mentor teams include members with subject matter and/or industry expertise relevant to those gaps.

LaunchTN seeks proposals for high-impact, industry-specific company mentorship initiatives in the financial technology (FinTech) or consumer product goods (CPG) sector that further such development of Tennessee-based early-stage companies. Applicants should be a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization and may include industry associations, universities/research institutions, and service organizations. Applicants should be based in Tennessee and have unique experience in the financial technology or consumer products sector in addition to a deep understanding of the greater Tennessee entrepreneurial ecosystem. Proposals should address multiple objectives discussed in the RFP application, including the following: 

  • Ability to stand up a Mentor Network, utilizing LaunchTN’s current Mentor Network model and leveraging industry knowledge and connections to build a roster of mentors and a roster of startups to participate in the program
  • Facilitate the growth of successful TN-based SBIR/STTR applications and/or commercialization opportunities
  • Have a knowledge of capital access resources, including equity investment, and be able assist qualified companies with their pursuit of access to capital
  • Develop curated opportunities for startups in your sector to grow their networks, leading to outcomes such as commercialization, revenue generation, investment capital, and job growth


Each proposal will compete for a finite pool of funding available for the Industry Network initiative. Organizations may apply for up to $75,000 for the period of 1/16/2023 to 6/30/2023 and then may apply for up to $200,000/fiscal year as long as funding is available, or in accordance with a maximum funding amount provided by funding sources.

Proposals must be submitted via this application link no later than Friday, December 23, 2022. Decisions will be announced in January 2023, for a contract beginning as early as January 16, 2023.



Key elements under consideration include:

  • Industry Networks support LaunchTN strategic priorities, including commercializing technologies and products, access to capital for founders and innovators, and connecting entrepreneurs and mentors across the state, with goals and tactics reflective of their own markets’ supply and demand conditions
  • Industry Networks and LaunchTN together set realistically aggressive goals specific to the supply and demand of their respective industries and reflecting the caliber of activity to be expected 
  • Industry Networks develop partnerships with one another and other entities (public and private sector) to create a strong, seamless network of resources for early-stage companies and early stage technologies
  • Results of the work generated by this funding will be quantifiable and provided to LaunchTN on a quarterly basis, in part to support more funding for these programs
  • LaunchTN is never a sole source of funding. Industry Network applicants MUST bring a level of support to this work, via cash, in-kind, or a combination of both.



Permissible costs include staff salaries and program expenses related to the scope of work defined in your proposal. Industry Network costs may relate to the following:

  • Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR): An entrepreneur in residence to assist companies directly and support the generation of mentors and company participants
  • Lead Mentors: Composed of industry and subject-matter experts, these mentors/mentor teams create a custom roadmap for mentor companies. 
  • Mentor Events: Catered to active and prospective mentors, to encourage networking and cross-pollination.
  • Mentee Events: Catered to participating companies; may include peer roundtables, informal networking events, and/or opportunities to connect with potential investors or strategic partners; may be specific to respective industry verticals or feature cross-industry collaboration. 
  • Additional Industry Support: Catered to companies who have completed their Network engagement; may include market access initiatives, connection to/use of lab facilities and equipment, and/or investor connections.

Please submit a proposal for work to be conducted from January 2023 – June 2023, as well as an extension of this work to cover July 2023 – June 2024 with the note that funding is conditional on continued funding from EDA and other LaunchTN funders.

The metrics outlined below are crucial to tracking the progress of our ecosystem and required by the funders of our Industry Network Partners. Please keep in mind that you will be required to track and report on these metrics quarterly. 

Metrics from startups participating in the Industry Networks, including:


  • Total # of startups in your network
  • # of Startups served
  • Number of participants served who represents a SEDI demographic
  • TN Counties served by your organization (summary list)


  • # of active mentors actively engaged with your organization
  • Number of participating companies in Mentor Network stage-gate program
  • # of Mentor Network Panels
  • # of Technical Assistance Meetings
  • # of mentoring and coaching sessions
  • Total number of mentor hours


  • # of investor meetings with startup companies
  • # capital funding events & SEDI diversity
  • Non-government funding $ raised by startup companies
  • Government funding $ raised by startup companies including loans and grants
  • # of SBIR award applications supported


  • # of new jobs created from companies in your network
  • # of jobs retained from companies in your network


  • # of events, event participants, and counties served
  • # of patent applications in process
  • # of patents held
  • # of new product launches

Business Development

  • # of Pilots completed by startups
  • # of startups connected to corporate partners
  • Past fiscal year business sales (gross sales for the most recently completed fiscal yr.)
  • Total business sales (gross sales for the lifetime of the business)

University Engagement

  • # of universities engaged
  • # of students participating in commercialization or workforce programs
  • # of technologies assisted in commercialization

Submissions come through this application and include narrative and budgetary components. 


Applications will be reviewed internally by multiple members of the LaunchTN team and possible external reviewers. Applications will be reviewed on a scale of 1-7 in the following categories: 

(1) existing framework for the support of early-stage companies 

(2) references and letters of support provided 

(3) ability to attract mentors and early stage companies of industry relevance

(4) strategies to encourage inclusivity and accessibility to underserved founders

(5) overall budget, including support outside of LaunchTN, and the capacity to execute on said budget 

(6) overall goals (meaning metrics + scope), and the achievability of those goals, 

(7) timeline provided and the ability to execute on the timeline, and 

(8) overall knowledge of and experience in the industry for which you are applying.

*Ineligible entity types will not be considered/scored

Q+A Session

Two virtual Q+A sessions will be held by LaunchTN’s team as detailed below. You may register for these sessions here. You are not required to attend a Q+A session, they are simply dedicated time to ask questions of the LaunchTN team.

  • Nov 21st, 9:00am – 11:00am CST
  • Dec 19th, 9:00am – 11:00am CST


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