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Launch Tennessee Debuts InvestTN, a $70 Million Fund, to Fuel Growing Entrepreneur Ecosystem

For immediate release
June 22, 2023

Nashville, TN — Launch Tennessee with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) today announced the launch of InvestTN, a $70 million investment fund. 

The capital will be invested in Tennessee-based startups and venture capital firms to promote innovation and economic growth across the state. The launch comes at a time when Tennessee’s entrepreneur ecosystem is gaining national attention, with Nashville recently identified as the fastest growing job market in the nation. 

“With InvestTN we are making it easier to access capital and connect with valuable partners without having to leave the state,” said Lindsey Cox, CEO of Launch Tennessee. “When I first joined Launch Tennessee in 2013, we set out to build an infrastructure that could support entrepreneurs and small business growth, regardless of location or industry. With that foundation in place, we have built a seasoned team with direct investment and government experience. I brought some of the winning strategies from my time in the U.S. Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for increasing access to capital in communities where risk capital is in short supply, and hired our first Chief Investment Officer, Monique Villa. This is an exciting time for our organization, and Tennessee entrepreneurs.”

Bringing a Competitive Edge to Federal Funding

InvestTN is part of Fund Tennessee, a $117 million initiative that represents Tennessee’s allocation of the most recent  State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI 2.0) $10 billion budget funded by the U.S. Treasury. 

Fund Tennessee comprises three programs — InvestTN; LendTN, a $47 million debt program; and AssistTN, a technical assistance program to support entrepreneurs and small businesses in becoming capital ready. LendTN will work with selected Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) and will roll out later this summer.

LaunchTN is working with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, which is headed up by Commissioner Stuart McWhorter, to deploy the Fund Tennessee dollars. 

“Entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of the Tennessee economy, but historically access to capital has been a barrier to Tennessean startups’ growth,” said Stuart McWhorter, Commissioner of TNECD. “With LaunchTN as the connective tissue for founders to funds and resources, there has never been a better time to build a business in Tennessee.”

While the SSBCI program itself is not new, Launch Tennessee set out to bring a fresh narrative to federal funding: a full-service, modern platform to support startups and venture capital funds, inspired by venture capital industry best practices.

Launch Tennessee backs seven regional entrepreneur centers in the state: Chattanooga, Cookeville, Jackson, Kingsport, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville.

The statewide coverage provides unique visibility into company creation and industry trends to support InvestTN’s future portfolio of investments. The InvestTN portfolio will consist of approximately 140 Tennessee-based startups and 4-6 venture capital funds. 


How to Apply For Investment

InvestTN funds are open to startups and venture capital funds in all 95 Tennessee state counties. 

Early-stage startups, pre-seed through Series B, can apply for equity investment ranging in size from $25,000 to $3,000,000. 

Venture capital funds are eligible for $1 million to $3 million investment capital to invest in startups. More information is available on InvestTN.org, a new website created by Launch Tennessee to help educate entrepreneurs and investors on the available funds.  

Applications will be received on a rolling basis, reviewed and formerly voted upon by an investment committee composed of Launch Tennessee’s capital team. 

Building Businesses in Tennessee 

Launch Tennessee is a public-private partnership taking a new approach to managing and deploying government funds for economic development at the state level. Cox previously spent six years with Launch Tennessee establishing programs and events to foster entrepreneurship statewide. She returned to Launch Tennessee in 2022 as CEO and hired Villa to help launch, manage and now deploy InvestTN funds.

“As Tennessee’s startup community grows, entrepreneurs are looking for more than just capital to be successful,” said Villa. “We asked ourselves, ‘How can Launch Tennessee play a unique role in the success of our portfolio companies?’ We have to meet entrepreneurs where they are; InvestTN has to be competitive with other venture capital firms. Our portfolio companies need a platform of localized support, from talent and hiring to a growing investor network for later investment, to a statewide expert network of operators to help startups as they scale. We do more than just invest.” 

About LaunchTN
LaunchTN is a public-private partnership that supports entrepreneurship and economic development with a goal to make Tennessee the best state in the country for startups. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit we are uniquely positioned to provide direct investment, while also supporting collaboration among founders, investors, researchers, private sector institutions and government. We foster entrepreneurship, technology advancement and workforce development through capital access, commercialization, mentorship, marketing and partnerships.

Ashley Currie

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