Nashville startup conference brings widespread attention to regional entrepreneurship

NASHVILLE – Here in Music City, on the second and final day of the inaugural Southland conference, Memphis folks are all over the place.

Founders of BioNanovations, Kufikia and Screwpulp are all here, along with reps from Memphis Bioworks Foundation, Seed Hatchery, Start Co., and ZeroTo510. And there are others who aren’t officially participating in the program as either startup founders or investors, but are here to support the local, state and regional ecosystem.

And that’s an important push of this conference, organizers keep pointing out. True, Nashville is hosting the event, but attendees (more than 600 will be involved in some way by the time everything is said and done) come from 11 states. And the panelists are an impressive lot, with CEOs of mega-successful tech companies, influencers of every stripe and just this morning, the vice president of Hearst Entertainment & Syndication – George Kliavkoff. As a fellow journalist seated beside me mentioned this morning, “This lineup is amazing. These folks are legit.”

Bottom line here – this is brilliant for the Nashville entrepreneurial ecosystem and it’s great for the surrounding areas, too. When I spoke to Start Co. co-president Eric Mathews this morning, he acknowledged a bit of envy about this conference, but emphasized that the ripple effect will boost Memphis and other area.

The ability of folks in Nashville to launch and successfully pull off this kind of event is admirable, Mathews said, and it helps that LaunchTN is throwing its considerable weight and resources behind it. That’s great news for entrepreneurs in the state and should serve as motivation for leaders in Memphis to work harder with state and regional organizers to further develop this momentum in the western-most part of the state.

The creative gauntlet has been thrown down. Here’s hoping the innovators in Memphis use that motivation to further boost the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

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