Greetings from Nashville, aka Music City, the It City, NashVegas — or, as we like to call it, NashValley. When you hear “Southeast” you probably think sweet tea, barbecue and the boys of fall; and you’d be right. But we’re so much more, as evidenced by last week’s 36|86 conference which was held in our city’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center — right before CMA Music Fest kicked off downtown and Bonnaroonies descended on a farm a few miles southeast of here. Turns out, there’s innovation everywhere you look.
Not surprisingly, many of the Nashville startups at the conference centered on healthcare and music (although one company pitched its authentication solution which can reduce fraud and the dependence on passwords). That was just the tip of the iceberg: one company from Atlanta wants to make it easier for you to split your check and pay at a restaurant so you can “split” and go on to enjoy other activities; a startup in Florence, Ala., (population 39,319) can detect and notify you of a potential water leak in your home or business; and a Chattanooga startup that lets parents monitor and control their kids’ technology came out on top, winning the $50,000 non-equity cash prize. It should be noted that no one under the age of 18 was allowed to vote.
ICYMI, here’s a recap of the 36|86 conference events: http://venturenashville.com/
When it comes to startups and technology, we still have a long way to go to catch up to the reputation of Silicon Valley and get the attention of venture capitalists. According to SSTI, 56 percent of venture capital investment dollars went to companies in California in 2014; just five percent was invested in companies in our region. Investors are starting to look our way: earlier this year, Mattermark.com reported that Nashville was one of the biggest winners, by volume, in capital raised between 1Q15 and 1Q16; New Orleans also saw a significant increase.
If you’re still not convinced the Southeast is a great place to start or move a business, here are 10 reasons conference attendees gave for why all y’all should consider joining us here in NashValley or the surrounding area. Our advice? Wait a few months. The startup environment will still be hot but the weather will be cooler, and football season will be underway. Tailgating, anyone?