Reporting on Nashville startups: Passionate debuts, quiet closures and celebrated exits
As a business reporter in Nashville, part of my job has been to cover local entrepreneurship. One of my favorite parts of reporting on new companies is learning how founders got their idea for a business and how it evolved into a company. So many of us encounter problems and simply complain about it, or maybe go as far as saying, “Wouldn’t it be great if there were any alternative?” before going on about our day. But these individuals don’t stop there. They try to solve the problem and often abandon a more secure financial path to do so.
In the early days of a company’s formation, entrepreneurs speak passionately about their product or service and are confident about the demand that exists for it. Many have inspiring stories to tell and their enthusiasm is often catching. They are teachers creating new technology to help other teachers, former patients seeking to help others now facing similar health challenges, established business leaders who want to improve a civic problem or health care workers who see a better way of doing things. So many business models sound like strong, even brilliant business ideas, but I’ve learned that a solid idea is just the beginning.
I recently stumbled upon the LinkedIn profile of a young, ambitious entrepreneur I had interviewed years ago and saw that his company was no longer operating and he had taken another job. I recalled his optimism and drive and I would guess moving on was not an easy decision. I also wondered, now that a few years had passed, how many others had taken similar paths? How are all those many startups we have covered as a business reporting team doing today? I sought to answer that as best as possible in the article, Where are they now? A look at Nashville startups formed 2010-2015.
There are, of course, many companies that have closed or have sold assets, producing varying levels of returns, or none at all. But checking back with so many people proved to yield better results than I expected given the long odds of survival and success. So many entrepreneurs are gaining traction or even seeing growth exceed expectations as they help solve real problems for consumers or businesses. Others are still leading their companies but have significantly shifted their service or product. Some of the companies I had been skeptical of or written off are proving me wrong, and even some companies with the most experienced investors or promising leaders have failed to thrive, underscoring the difficulty of success.
This story only scratches the surface of the entrepreneurship underway in Nashville. So many companies are forming that don’t get media attention and so many others have formed since 2015. But for those founders whose companies have been able to survive the fraught and glorified path of entrepreneurship, congratulations on your work, and we look forward to seeing where your businesses go in the years ahead.
Reach Jamie McGee at 615-259-8071 and on Twitter @JamieMcGee_.
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