LaunchTN Announces New Chief Investment Officer
Eller Kelliher, a seasoned early-stage venture leader, will oversee InvestTN and other capital support programs
Nashville, TN – Launch Tennessee (LaunchTN) today announced Eller Mallchok Kelliher as its new Chief Investment Officer, a vital role responsible for the new InvestTN program and the organization’s capital portfolio.
A Chattanooga native, Kelliher brings substantial experience in pre-Seed, Seed, and Series A venture funding and a deep familiarity with Tennessee’s vast and diverse startup ecosystem. Kelliher succeeds Monique Villa, who successfully established InvestTN and is leaving her full-time role with the organization to pursue entrepreneurial projects in venture capital.
InvestTN is a $70 million investment fund that provides equity investment to Tennessee-based startups and venture capital firms. Since its launch in June 2023, the program received more than 400 submissions from startups and 25 venture fund applications.
The LaunchTN capital team has begun making investment offers to Tennessee startups in a wide range of industries and regions across the state. Startups seeking investment can apply online at InvestTN.org at any point as applications are rolling.
InvestTN is building on a notable trend of startup and capital activity in Tennessee. According to Pitchbook, a national tracker of VC funds and firms, LaunchTN is a leading organization investing in Tennessee companies by deal count.
“We are thrilled by the response we’ve seen to date from startups interested in InvestTN,” said Lindsey Cox, CEO of LaunchTN. “Monique did an incredible job of establishing this important program for the state and getting it launched, and Eller’s early-stage VC background will help us continue executing on this critical initiative. I am proud of our capital team and remain convinced this program, alongside the suite of capital programs we offer, will transform how we support innovative, high-growth startups who can shape the future of Tennessee.”
Kelliher has vast experience in early-stage venture, strategic operations, and investor and partnership relations. She spent seven years at Jumpstart Foundry, a Nashville-based investment firm focused on early-stage healthcare companies. While there, she led fundraising and investor relations initiatives for each annual JSF venture fund and oversaw the investment process for 130+ seed stage investments, deploying over $19M. Prior to joining the LaunchTN capital team, Kelliher was a partner at SeedToB Capital in Atlanta where she led due diligence and negotiated Seed and Series A financing rounds with healthcare AI startup companies.
“I am honored to take on this role for LaunchTN, an organization I have long admired,” said Kelliher. “We are seeing great deal flow across the state for InvestTN. I think this is a unique and interesting opportunity to deploy venture techniques for the betterment of Tennessee’s ecosystem.”
Kelliher has served as Investor-in-Residence at LaunchTN supporting Villa since June 2023.
In addition to getting the program approved by the U.S. Treasury and launched with InvestTN.org, Villa brought institutional venture capital best practices that will continue to shape both investment decisions and programming going forward.
Villa and the capital team also launched a larger platform strategy to support the growing portfolio of Tennessee companies and funds. For example, LaunchTN built a co-investor network and launched investor-specific programming at 3686, created a database to support portfolio companies with access to discounted services and software, debuted the quarterly Tennessee deal report, and incubated a series of events to build community for deal flow and investment.
“After years of investing in Tennessee, we’ve found that creating a return on investment and economic development aren’t mutually exclusive but synonymous,” said Villa. “We started this journey by asking what a Tennessee entrepreneur needs to be successful. We found key needs include access to talent, capital, operational expertise statewide, and connection to a rich community of peers. We set out to build this for Tennessee’s entrepreneurs, and I am proud of and humbled by what the team has created and will continue to create for entrepreneurs.”
To learn more about InvestTN visit investtn.org.
LaunchTN is a 501c3 nonprofit partnership building an ecosystem of support for every startup and investor in Tennessee. As a public-private partnership, 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 by providing capital access, commercialization support, and connections.
Communications Director, LaunchTN