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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EO Nashville Members in the News: Bob Bernstein, Nicholas Holland, Kevin Ross, Mike Rustici, Ben Hanback, Tim Ozenger, Jason Moore, David Waddell, Sam Sanchez, James Fields, Alex Tolbert, Rebecca Donner and Benjamin Goldberg

This week’s recap of press mentions and awards is a long one. Here we go!

Bob Bernstein [Bongo Productions], Nicholas Holland [], Kevin Ross [Metova] and Mike Rustici [Rustici Software] were all featured in Forbes on Oct. 15. Forbes asked company founders their big “aha” moments. Bob is #17, Nicholas #22, Kevin #22 and Mike #73.

Forbes Article

Ben Hanback [The Hanback Group] and Tim Ozenger [OZ Nashville] were featured in the Nashville Post on Sunday. The story mentioned Ben and Tim as two of many local investors looking to increase portfolios with alternative investing.

The Nashville Technology Council Gala Awards took place Tuesday, Oct. 23. Congratulations to the following EO member finalists and winners:

  • Kevin Ross [Metova] accepted the Software Developer of the Year award on behalf of his company’s development team
  • Jason Moore [Stratasan] won Early Stage Company of the Year
  • Tod Fetherling [also of Stratasan] was the newest member to be inducted in the NTC Hall of Fame
  • Jessica McDougal [of EO member company Teknetex] was a finalist for Volunteer of the Year
  • Carl Pottkotter [of EO member company NovaCopy] was a finalist for CTO of the Year
  • Jason Levkulich [also of NovaCopy] was a finalist for Company of the Year

David Waddell’s [Waddell & Associates] column was featured in the Memphis Daily News on Wednesday. The article discussed the possible alternatives to dividends.

Sam’s Sports Grill [Sam Sanchez] was voted one of America’s Best Sports Bars by The Daily Meal.

The Daily Meal

On Wednesday, the Nashville Business Journal wrote about Jame Fields’ [Concept Technology Inc.] creative idea to turn to valet parking to solve its growing parking issues.

Bernard Health [Alex Tolbert] was featured in Wednesday’s Tennessean. Alex was mentioned in response to BlueCross ending its plan to open a retail store in Nashville.

Rebecca Donner’s [Inner Design Studio] article was featured in Healthcare Design Magazine. Her article included tips to reduce patient room noise with design materials.

Adam Platt mentioned Benjamin Goldberg [Strategic Hospitality] in his blog today for Conde Nast Traveler. Adam met Benjamin on his Southern States Food Tour. He also mentioned the excellent food he tried at the Patterson House and the Catbird Seat.

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.

20 EO Nashville Companies Recognized by Inc. 500|5000

Once again, EO Nashville members had a solid showing on the Inc. 500|5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America. This year, 20 EO Nashville member companies were included on the list. That represents 40% of Middle Tennessee companies on the list, and 23% of all Tennessee-based companies on the list. Not bad, when you consider that EO companies represent just 0.7% of the 15,000 businesses in Nashville.

EO Nashville members who made the 2012 Inc. 500|5000 list are:

These 20 companies employee 1,326 individuals; grew at an average rate of 199% from 2008 to 2011; and have combined 2011 revenues of $287 million. Furthermore, of the three Tennessee companies that made the Inc. 500, two were EO member companies: and Teknetex.

According to the magazine, companies are chosen for the list by comparing revenue growth from 2008 to 2011. Companies must be U.S.-based, privately held, independent, for-profit and not a subsidiary or division of another company. Revenues in 2008 must have been at least $100,000 and at least $2 million for 2011.

The full list can be accessed at

EO Nashville Members in the News: Tom Turner, Ben Hanback, John Rowley, Rebecca Donner, Top Technology Firms, Nicholas Holland, Michael Brody-Waite & Jolene Dressel

Here’s a roundup of the most recent EO Nashville sightings in the news.

On June 22, the Nashville Post covered DSi’s [Tom Turner] move into Charlotte, North Carolina. DSi also has outposts in Knoxville and Cincinnati.

On the 4th of July, Ben Hanback [The Hanback Group] appeared on Fox & Friends to discuss health care, and more specifically changes that individuals can expect in their insurance plans after the Affordable Care Act. You can watch the video here.

John Rowley [Fletcher|Rowley] made two TV appearances on July 6, appearing on Fox News Channel’s Studio B and MSNBC’s The Ed Show.

Rebecca Donner [Inner Design Studio] was featured in a Nashville Medical News article entitled “Designed for Healing” about creating healing environments in health care.

On July 6, the Nashville Business Journal printed its list of the top 25 local technology firms. EO member companies to make the list include:

Download the full list here: NBJ top tech firms.

Fast Company ran an article about Nashville’s quest to fill its open technology positions. The article included a quote by Nicholas Holland about ways that tech companies can attract more talent.

On July 12, the Nashville Post covered Michael Brody-Waite and InQuicker‘s growth. The health care tech company is now working with 135 hospitals around the country.

In other exciting news, Jolene Dressel [Trojan Labor] started a new company, Trojan Environmental. Trojan Environmental is an asbestos abatement staffing company. Jolene has put over 70 employees through a 32-hour asbestos abatement course to get this business off the ground. She is currently supplying several customers with temporary asbestos abatement workers in jobs located in Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia.

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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EO Nashville in the News

Locally and nationally, EO Nashville was all over the news last week.

Friday’s Nashville Business Journal has three stories about and one mention of EO Nashville companies:

  1. A full-page story on page 2 covers the EO Nashville Fall Economic Survey, highlighted by comments from EO members Andy Bailey of Rock Habits and Chris Glaser of Focus Technology Group.
  2. EO member Kevin Ross of Metova is featured in today’s NBJ Case Study, where he talks about how employee empowerment has been key to his firm’s success.
  3. EO member Jerry Bostelman of Vaco was profiled for having one of Nashville’s 25 fastest growing companies. Like Kevin Ross, Jerry attributes a large portion of his company’s success to engaging and listening to his employees.
  4. EO member Darren Metz’s company, Novacopy was listed as a member of the NBJ 100, which are the 100 largest privately held companies in Nashville by revenue. This is Novacopy’s first year on the list and it came on at the 93 spot. (Vaco, mentioned above, moved up from 54 to 40 on the list this year.)

And, on the national front, EO member Miranda Pontes’ restaurant, Burger Up, had its now-famous Jack Daniels Maple Ketchup featured in the most recent issue of People magazine in an article about the new food trend of fancy ketchup.

Burger Up clip