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Nashville Entrepreneur Center update on startup capital recruitment
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JOHN MURDOCK MBA, who is both chief operating officer and chief product officer of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, responded to a series of Venture Nashville questions about EC efforts to improve the supply of capital for growth companies in the Nashville region overall, with particular interest in improving access afforded Black and LatinX founders of startups and other rapidly scaling businesses.

Murdock and other EC staff provided information in an interview and a series of email exchanges, Feb. 16-25. VNC's inquiry had been prompted in part by the EC's convening of a major Nashville Black Innovation and Entrepreneurship Day conference, held at the Entrepreneur Center, Feb. 15.

Related panelists' commentary from the Feb. 15 event -- much of it pertaining to minority entrepreneurs' access to capital -- is also published via this link here today.

John Murdock

Murdock told VNC today, "At the EC, we work with entrepreneurs raising capital across all industries. And in all these industries, we see what the data says --Black founders participate disproportionately less in venture capital than White founders and our aim is to level the playing field."

Key points provided by the EC, covering its view of capital issues, are verbatim below, with light editing by VNC.
There is no one simple solution that will solve this challenge overnight. We are engaged in a host of activities to help more Black and LatinX entrepreneurs access the capital they need.
One set of activities is to help Black and LatinX entrepreneurs access the capital that is already available in the market. These activities include, but are not limited to, things like:
  • Preparing Black and LatinX entrepreneurs to access the capital that is already available in the market by working with them on their businesses.
  • Connecting Black and LatinX entrepreneurs to access the capital that is in the market.
  • Identifying and connecting to all relevant funding sources, especially those that have a specific commitment to investing in Black and/or LatinX founders.

One desired consequence of this work is that it will not only increase the capital going into Black and LatinX founded businesses, but it will also attract more people and institutions into the effort to fund more Black and LatinX businesses.

As part of our mission, we are always trying to cultivate and attract more capital investment into more startups.

We would also note these items: When talking about capital, we recognize that different founders need access to different types and amounts of capital at different times.

For example, we administer a grant fund for private donors that give $1,000-$10,000 grants to qualifying Black and LatinX founders to help with early startup costs. This is not an equity fund and EC staff do not make decisions regarding who qualifies for grants, but we do administer the funds and work with the donors. The grant fund has, thus far, been a private effort piloted by a few private individuals. We are reviewing [the grant-funding] process.

We do not believe that there is a shortage of available capital, nor do we believe that investments in one business preclude investments in other businesses. Still, we want to facilitate a stronger flow of capital between investors and great investment opportunities.

We absolutely believe that Black entrepreneurs experience inordinate challenges in securing shares of that capital; and, that there is significant opportunity to increase the overall ecosystem by improving these three types of support for Black founders:

  • helping all founders prepare to raise funds
  • improving the connectivity between prepared founders and existing investors
  • cultivating more investors/capital to be targeted for deployment.

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. last edited 1700 25 February 2022

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