Nashville’s making noise: Could Music City be the next Tech hub?
TLDR: I recently joined Cultivation Capital as a Principal back in November. Since then, I’ve relocated to Nashville, TN to help grow Cultivation’s presence and investing activities in the Southeast.
For those who do not know me (yet), I grew up on the East Coast. I spent the last 5 years living in NYC. While most of my family is now in the Tri-State, both sides of my family have deep Southern roots, so I have always been intrigued by the prospect of spending more time in the South especially after attending Vanderbilt for undergrad.
Therefore, when the prospect presented itself to help build out Cultivation’s portfolio in the Southeast, I knew Nashville would be the perfect fit for me.
In the past few weeks, a lot of people have asked me, “why Nashville?” What seemingly took several conversations and numerous words to explain can be summed up quite simply: to build.
What has always appealed to me about Nashville is that it is a city of builders and a city in constant transformation. It is an epicenter for music, health care, and technology, and has several higher educational institutions all in its backyard.
As VCs continue to speculate on the next major tech hubs, I personally subscribe to Fred Wilson’s approach on “the rise of everywhere.” I agree the transition to remote work will be a great democratizer for the next generation of tech startups, and I am excited to back exceptional founders scaling up startups in undercapitalized markets.
Nashville has long been under the radar to many, but the following characteristics all provide strong indicators of the vibrant tech ecosystem that’s to come:
- Presence of large corporations: There’s Smile Direct Club, which has over 2,000 employees, as well as major offices opening for Lyft, Postmates, Eventbrite, IQTalent, KeepTruckin, and Eargo. Amazon is adding an Operations Center of Excellence, which will bring in over 5,000 new jobs, and where there are large corporations, there will always be a significant number of exits. For example, Nashville-based corporations like Healthstream has made 14 acquisitions since 2000, and I3 Verticals has made 10 since 2013.
- Number of universities: With over 20 four-year colleges and universities, 6 community colleges, and 11 vocational and technical schools — it’s clear that the Nashville area is a hub for higher education.
- Immigration of Talent: With an increase of 5.56% from 2015 to 2018, Nashville has experienced the 10th largest net population growth among affordable large metropolitan areas in the U.S.
Regardless of the numbers, one thing remains consistently clear: Nashville is a warm, vibrant city filled with humble & talented entrepreneurs. If you are a Tech founder based in Nashville, TN, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I cannot wait to meet you!