Imagine in one place, over a day and a half, being able to hear about how to incorporate social media into your marketing strategy, finding out how a major university can help you start your business, learning from Venture Capitalists what they look for in a company, or watching the pros pitch for millions of dollars....all in East Tennessee.
Entrepreneurial Imperative 2010 was just such a thing. The first day was hosted by the Y12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge and the Keynote speaker was Eli Goldratt, the father of the Theory of Constraints (TOC). Dr. Goldratt is now applying the core principles of TOC to the strategic planning process of startup companies and he boldly invited any company to come to Israel for two weeks and immerse themselves in the process.
The second day was jam packed with sessions of useful topics. Early morning speakers included State Senator Doug Overbey who was instrumental in helping to pass the legislation that led to the formation of the ten Tennessee Investment Companies (TNInvestcos). The TNInvestcos have available nearly $140 million in seed stage investment capital to Tennessee based startup companies. Randy Boyd of Radio Systems Corporation was recognized for the wonderful success his company has achieved here in Knoxville.
The balance of the morning included 9 workshops on all topics related to entrepreneurship. In the afternoon, ThrottleUp! 2010 showcased 6 wonderful seed stage companies and was followed by the 15th Annual Tennessee Valley Venture Forum.
Over 250 people enjoyed the conference in person and for those who could not, we video recorded most of the sessions which we will share with you over the next couple weeks in this blog. By all accounts and anecdotes, it was a huge success.
But that's not what I wanted to talk about....
I want to talk about the power of a community coming together to celebrate and pull off something that no one organization could do by themselves. At a time when human and capital resources are strained to the breaking point, it is very difficult to pull together a program for a major regional wide conference. In planning for Entrepreneurial Imperative, we came to the realization that our conference needed to be something larger than the traditional venture forum format we had employed for several years. Our community, like every other community in our country, needed a shot in the arm and a message that says, "go ahead and start that company...we are here to help!"
East Tennessee has a no shortage of entrepreneurial support organizations, each promoting their fine programs and going about what they do. We came to the realization that if we could tap into these resources, we could leverage the talent in the region to do something great. So we asked everyone we knew if they would grab a paddle and climb into the boat. The cool thing is that a bunch of people stepped up. Here is the list of the host committee that planned and implemented Entrepreneurial Imperative 2010:
- The Development Corporation of Knox County
- Entrepreneurs of Knoxville
- Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley
- Knoxville Overground
- Knoxville S.C.O.R.E
- Technology 2020
- Tennessee Small Business Development Centers
- UT Center for Industrial Services
- UT College of Business
- University of Tennessee Research Foundation
These people planned the program, recruited the speakers, served as moderators, and perhaps, most importantly, brought their people. The community plays a vital role in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and if they can find a way to work together, the multiplier is 5 to 10X. What investor could resist that ROI?
We hope you enjoy the highlights of Entrepreneurial Imperative in the coming weeks!
Mike Cuddy of Technology 2020 opens Entrepreneurial Imperative and introduces Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett for a welcome.