Tech Economy: TTDC targets Angels and Entrepreneurs

By Milt Capps

Tech Economy:  TTDC targets Angels and Entrepreneurs | TTDC, Tennessee Technology Development Corporation, economic development, Angels, angel capital, education, entrepreneurship, Mercury Technology Labs, Eric Mathews, Marc Diaz, Sid Chambless, Eric Cromwell, Dan Schmisseur, Launch Tennessee, LaunchTN,

Tennessee Technology Development Corporation has retained two companies to help improve the odds of success for high-growth entrepreneurial ventures in Tennessee.

Nashville-based TTDC has contracted with Nashville Capital Network, the six-year-old firm that has attracted more than 50 local angels, for a five-month push to develop educational content and programs for investors and entrepreneurs statewide. NCN is led by Executive Director Sid Chambless (left).

Documents obtained by VNC from TTDC explain NCN has been retained to improve "the availability of capital, stimulate entrepreneurship and create an entrepreneurial culture in Tennessee."

Notably, the project also calls for NCN to help TTDC determine whether the business community sees value in creating a credentialing or certification program to help entrepreneurs evaluate investors with whom they deal. Under the contract, which began in January, TTDC is paying NCN $6,000 per month, for a projected total of $30,000.

Almost simultaneously, TTDC has contracted with Memphis-based Mercury Technology Labs, for work valued at a projected $30,000 over six months.

Mercury's work for TTDC, now underway, includes developing educational and social-networking programs for "high-growth" entrepreneurs, covering such things as "fundamentals of high-growth entrepreneurship." TTDC tentatively plans to offer future such programs in communities and regions throughout the state.

Mercury bills itself as an "innovation connector and venture creation company." Its work for TTDC will be executed mainly by Co-Founders Eric Mathews (at right) and Marc Diaz.

In hiring Mercury, TTDC officials have made clear their aim is to plug gaps and repair weaknesses in the state's entrepreneurial ecosystem, while improving the quality and accuracy of information provided to entrepreneurs through educational, networking and outreach programs. As previously reported by VNC, Mercury has been deeply involved in similar work in the Memphis area.

Both the NCN and Mercury contracts are intended to complement work being performed under other contracts TTDC has previously awarded, including the previously reported TECworks initiative underway in West Tennessee.

Respectively, the NCN and Mercury assignments fall into TTDC's capital-formation domain; and, into TTDC's effort to foster networks of and for entrepreneurs.

The NCN and Mercury contracts were in discussion and development for months, and were approved at the regular Jan. 22 meeting of the board of directors of TTDC. TTDC President Eric Cromwell and TTDC Vice President Dan Schmisseur are the key executives designing these and other contracts.