Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Nashville, TN


Nashville, known around the world as the Music City, is also known as the nation’s best area for women owned businesses with a high rank for entrepreneurial growth.

Nashville, TN, known as the Music City, is the state’s capital and most populous city. It ranked 47th in the “Access to Resources” category in WalletHub’s 2017 rankings of the best cities to start a business. In 2016, the same site ranked the Nashville metropolitan area as the nation’s best for women-owned businesses. Additionally, the Kaufmann Index ranked the metropolitan area fourth in terms of entrepreneurial growth.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Nashville’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

A large networking group in Nashville that hosts regular events for local entrepreneurs, small business owners, and other professionals.

An educational networking group aimed at small business owners in the Greater Nashville area.

Hosts weekly lunch meetings every Friday for Nashville-area business professionals and entrepreneurs.

A group for internet-focused entrepreneurs and those with online businesses.

Hosts regular networking and motivational events for aspiring entrepreneurs in Middle Tennessee.

Offers networking opportunities to real estate entrepreneurs and investors in and around Nashville.

An organization that hosts networking events and educational workshops for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

The Middle Tennessee branch of the National Urban League Young Professionals, which aims to help develop young profesionals through workshops, education, and community outreach.

A large networking group for female professionals in any line of work, including entrepreneurship.

The “Word of Mouth Entrepreneurial Networkers” organize and host regular events designed to help women grow their businesses, primarily through word of mouth referrals.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

Named, for Nashville’s coordinates, 36|86 is an annual entrepreneurship and technology conference hosted in Nashville.

The Nashville Chamber of Commerce hosts events for small businesses and entrepreneurs, including an annual awards ceremony and several workshops and networking events.

The Nashville branch of the National Association of Women Business Owners hosts monthly networking events in addition to hosting other events and workshops.


Startup Competitions:

Lipscomb University’s Center for Entrepreneurship hosts a pitch competition with awards paid for by alumni Marty Kittrell.

A business plan competition that offers large cash prizes for winners open to any MTSU students and alumni.

Vanderbilt organizes a competition for students to pitch their ideas to a panel of experts that will give them feedback and advice.

A pitch competition held every year at the 36|86 Conference in which entrepreneurs compete for a chance at a large cash prize.


Co-working Spaces:

In addition to traditional co-working space and private offices, Center 615 also has a top-of-the-line photography and video studio.

In addition to co-working space, Collaborate offers a variety of resource to entrepreneurs, including administrative support, bookkeeping, and networking opportunities.

Deavor, which offers several membership levels and a wide array of amenities, prides itself on a creative community of clients.

InDo, which stands for Inspiration Domain, provides an inspirational work place for creative people as well as a songwriting studio available to rent.

Industrious Office’s Nashville location is The Gulch – a brand-new LEED Certified building just a few minutes from downtown.

Offers a level of memberships and meeting rooms for rent as well as providing a number of benefits and resources to members.

A large co-working space that offers a variety of plans, from a hot desk to private spaces for large teams.

WeWork Offices offers two co-working locations in Nashville, both of which include private offices of varying sizes available.


Maker spaces:

A 45,000-square foot workshop that includes office space to rent as well as a full wood shop, print shop, metal shop, and 3D printer.

A large maker space in East Nashville open 24/7 to members with regular free build nights and events open to the public.

The Nashville Public Library offers a number of workshops and labs across their locations. This includes places for photography, music production, film production, and writing.

A pair of maker spaces with a wide variety of equipment available to all members of the Vanderbilt community.



Jumpstart Foundry provides capital, networking, and education to seed-stage healthcare startups.

Offers co-working spaces and incubation in the form of regular advising from entrepreneurial experts, workshops, and other helpful events.

The Nashville Business Incubation Center provides support, mentorship, programs, and classes to startups and small businesses in Middle Tennessee.

Incubators & Accelerators: Which Best Fits Your Needs?


An accelerator program for all undergraduate students at Belmont University interested in starting a business.

An accelerator-like program that provides support to entrepreneurs in music or music-related industries.

An online accelerator program open to companies that have participated in programs organized by Launch Tennessee.

A four-week accelerator program that provides with college students and recent graduates with entrepreneurial education and real-world experience.



Belmont’s Center for Entrepreneurship offers a number of resources and programs to help students interested in entrepreneurship as well as a B.A. degree in entrepreneurship.

Lipscomb’s College of Business added the Center for Entrepreneurship in 2011 to help provide students with the resources they need to succeed.

MTSU provides a variety of resources to students and offers both a major and minor in entrepreneurship.

TSU’s College of Business provides opportunities and help for students interested in entrepreneurship.

In addition to maker spaces and the accelerator program, Vanderbilt provides a number of other valuable resources, programs, and events to help educate and support students.


Angel Groups/VCs:

Claritas Capital Equity Group provides capital to a variety of companies, while Claritas Capital Real Estate Group helps real estate developers.

GCA is a private investment firm that works with middle market corporations in manufacturing, distribution, and basic service companies.

Provides investments and capital to companies with revenue from $10 to $100 million in the private industrial manufacturing and industrial services sectors.

A large group of over 100 experienced investors that target growth-stage companies.

A Nashville-based angel group that invests in early-stage companies in the healthcare industry.

Petra provides long-term capital to businesses to high-growth companies in the business services, healthcare, and technology-enabled services industries.

Headquartered in Nashville and Dallas, Pharos seeks to provide capital to established healthcare companies in underserved markets.

TVV Capital is an investment firm that acquires and grows businesses in manufacturing, distribution, and service industries.

Screening Meeting with the Angel Group: Are You Prepared?


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

Nashville has a branch of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, which is a large worldwide network of entrepreneurship and offers a newsletter.

In addition to providing entrepreneurs with resources and education, Launch Tennessee also offers a weekly newsletter covering entrepreneurial news.

The Nashville Entrepreneur Center offers a weekly newsletter to keep entrepreneurs in the Nashville area up-to-date on events and resources.

A site that covers entrepreneurial information and news in the South.


Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Nashville not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

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Article by Quinn Pilkey

Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.