Peer to peer: Catalyst program helps area entrepreneurs thrive

This article originally appeared in the Nashville Ledger on Friday, Nov. 2, 2012.

When building a business from scratch, no one will ever love and care for that business that way you do.

But while you are nurturing growth, you can also become an island, working as CEO, head of sales and director of marketing — all at the same time. And growth can stall if you don’t have the right people helping you.

“I am so busy planning events for other people I can’t finish anything for myself,” says Angela Proffitt, a local wedding and event planner in her 10th year of business. She has a few unfinished projects she would like to complete, and there have even been opportunities she has had to pass on due to her current workload.

Other business owners are going through the same thing as Proffitt, and a local program she recently joined aims to bring her together with other business owners for support and guidance.

Last year the Nashville chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization and the Nashville Entrepreneur Center announced the launch of Catalyst, a mentorship program geared toward helping local entrepreneurs grow their companies past $1 million in annual sales.

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Nashville Entrepreneurs’ Organization Announces Second Catalyst Class Membership

Nashville EO and the Nashville Entrepreneur Center (EC) announced today the local business owners who will partake in the second Catalyst class, a program designed to help entrepreneurs grow their companies past the key benchmark of $1 million in annual sales.

The EO/EC-organized 18-month Catalyst program began last month.

The second Catalyst class consists of 16 members. Members are founders, co-founders, owners and controlling shareholders of local companies. Catalyst companies employ a total of 72 individuals, with average annual gross revenues of $560,793.

“The new participants represent a great cross section of Nashville entrepreneurs,” said Andy Bailey, president of EO Nashville and founder of Petra. “We have businesses operating in industries like manufacturing and health care to event planners and a boutique law firm. Some of the companies are over 20 years old and some are still in their first year. Each Catalyst member brings a unique perspective, which is truly valuable for our program.

The second class of the EO Nashville Catalyst program includes:

EC President and CEO Michael Burcham will again lead the 12 biweekly classes that kick off the program. At the conclusion of the classes, Catalyst participants will be broken into smaller peer-to-peer forum groups. The groups will meet monthly for 12 months with the first six meetings led by two EO Nashville members. Catalyst members will also engage in one-on-one mentorship with an EO Nashville member.

Catalyst participants can also take advantage of in-kind gifts totaling up to $37,000 from new program sponsors. Sponsors and benefits include:

  • NovaCopy: Free lease of copier equipment for the length of the program, $5,000 value
  • teknetex: Free technology and strategic planning, $20,000 value
  • First Payment Services: Ten-percent off current credit card processing expenses for 18 months, up to $10,000 value.
  • Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, LLP: Five free hours of consult or legal work during the first 90 days of the program, $2,000 value.

Catalyst Program Presented By EO Nashville and the Entrepreneur Center Embarks on Second Class

Majority of first year Catalyst participants see increased revenue, business growth

Building off a highly successful inaugural year, the Nashville EO and the Nashville EC announced today the kickoff of their second Catalyst program, geared towards helping local entrepreneurs grow their companies past the key benchmark of $1 million in annual sales.

To qualify you must be the founder, co-founder, owner or controlling shareholder of a local company grossing between $250,000 and $999,999 in annual revenue. The program will again cost $2,500, which includes participation in the 12 biweekly classes and up to one year of experience sharing and mentorship for a total of 18 months.

This year’s class will include 25 members, up from 20 last year.

“We’re increasing the class size this year to meet growing interest in the program. Our initial feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and we wanted to give more businesses the opportunity to be involved,” said Andy Bailey, EO Nashville chapter president and entrepreneur coach at Petra. “We recently surveyed our current Catalyst members and asked them if their participation in Catalyst was worth the investment, and if they would recommend the program to others. One hundred percent of the survey takers, which represented 80 percent of the class, said that the program was worth their investment and they’d recommend it. More importantly, a majority of Catalyst participants have seen increased revenues since starting Catalyst.”

One such success story is Bethany Newman, co-owner and president of ST8MNT, Inc., a brand design studio offering print, Web and interactive services. Since starting Catalyst, Newman’s monthly average revenue has increased 54 percent. She has also hired two new full-time employees.

“Catalyst has helped me clarify my business model, streamline my operations and hire great team members,” Newman said. “It offers such a learning and sharing environment. You gain so much knowledge from the leaders, teachers and your peers.

EC President and CEO Michael Burcham will again lead the 12 biweekly classes that kick off the program. EO members will also be invited to attend and participate.

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Startup Buspreneurs Crash Entrepreneur Center On Way to SXSW

Entrepreneur Center logoNinety developers, three buses, 72 hours building businesses on the road to Austin. That’s “Startup Bus”.

Last night, three buses with entrepreneurs from New York, Washington DC and Ohio arrived in Nashville to get a crash course in mentoring from the Entrepreneur Center. After upwards of 18 hours on the road, coding, developing and building technology-based businesses, the buses will arrived at the Nashville Hard Rock Café where some of the city’s top entrepreneurs will greet the “Buspreneurs,” share some technology and decompress from their trip.

The event was co-sponsored by Griffin Technologies and the Technology Council., an EC Incubating company launched a private pilot to the Startup Bus development teams with the challenge to build websites for each team in 10 minutes or less.

This morning, “Buspreneurs” met with EC mentors to review their progress and obtain feedback on their business models. Nashville is the first of three stops on the bus tour, culminating in Austin and the South By South West (SXSW) music and technology festival. As a massive technology and entrepreneurial event, the SXSW Startup Village is globally known for bringing together startups, entrepreneurs, investors and “cutting edge digital tastemakers.” Businesses built on the startup bus trip will have an opportunity to be pitched in front of investors and get funded in Austin.

“The entrepreneurial ecosystem in Nashville is bringing in entrepreneurs by the busload!” said Michael Burcham, Entrepreneur Center president and CEO. “We hope the “buspreneurs” spread the word to everyone in Austin about the activity and energy in Nashville’s startup community.”

EO Nashville Members in the News: JT Terrell, John Rowley & Michael Burcham

This week in the news, JT Terrell (Music City Tents and Events) was featured in a full-page Executive Profile in the January 6 edition of the Nashville Business Journal. In the Q&A piece, JT answered questions on his company’s expansion plans for 2012, his life as a touring drummer and how his wedding day boosted business.

EO member John Rowley (Fletcher/Rowley) has been busy talking presidential politics over the last couple weeks, with appearances on CNN, Maddow and FOX.

And finally, Michael Burcham announced this week that Joe Galante, former chairman of Sony Music Nashville, has joined the Entrepreneur Center as an entrepreneur-in-residence to help advise startups in the digital media and entertainment space.

EO Nashville Members in the News: Gabriel Smith, Scott Snoyer, Michael Burcham & Ben Goldberg

This week’s Nashville Business Journal included stories with three EO Nashville members.

  • Gabriel Smith (Legacy Learning Systems) was subject of this week’s “Executive Profile.”
  • Scott Snoyer (Fastsigns) was featured in the “Case Study” section on the “10 Minutes to Better Business” page.
  • Entrepreneur Center CEO Michael Burcham was included in an article about the EC’s move to the Trolley Barn. The article also included a quote from Jason Moore (Stratasan), owner of the first company to join the EC. This week, Stratasan was also included in an article in The City Paper about “Public entrepreneurship.” The EC will also act as the Northern Middle Regional Entrepreneurial Accelerator under Governor Haslam’s recent economic development strategy.

(Click on the images below to read the articles.)

Also, Ben Goldberg sat down with The City Paper Editor Steve Cavendish for a Q&A about the newly opened Catbird Seat restaurant. The article published in this week’s edition of the publication, and is inserted below.

EO Nashville Members in the News

Three EO Nashville members were featured in this week’s Nashville Business Journal. John Kepley (Teknetex), Clint Smith (Emma) and Michael Burcham (Entrepreneur Center) were all named to the NBJ’s Technology Power Leaders list. Check out their bios below to read more.

John Kepley

Clint Smith

Michael Burcham

Also, the NBJ’s “Spotlight on Entrepreneurs” focused on the continued work on StartUp Tennessee, a project that Michael Burcham heads. See the below clip for more information.

Firms wait at the starting line