Nashville may be Music City, but its small-business cred is rock solid too.
Beyond honky tonks and saloons that have long populated Tennessee's state capital, Nashville is quickly making a name for itself as a hot spot for entrepreneurship--which is just one reason why, starting May 20, the city will play host to Inc. magazine's 17th annual Growth Conference.
Among other notable developments, in 2013 Google chose Nashville to serve as one of seven spokes within its Google for Entrepreneurs Tech Hub Network. The tech giant intends the effort to help better connect emerging tech scenes across the country.
And though the level of entrepreneurship in the state overall has dipped some in the last few years, it's still higher than it was in the early 2000s, according to the Kauffman Foundation's latest Index of Entrepreneurial Activity. Per the index, around 4,500 more new businesses opened in the state each month in 2013, when compared to 2001 through 2003.
But stats don't tell the whole picture. "We chose Nashville because it is a dynamic place," says Inc. President and Editor-in-Chief Eric Schurenberg, who noted that 82 companies making Inc.'s 2013 list of the 5,000 fastest growing U.S. businesses are based in Tennessee. "It has an entrepreneurial spirit that originated with the music scene and has branched into other businesses."
Indeed, just take a look at some of the Tennessee-based startups and small companies that Inc.'s written about in the last year.
Small Batch: Sam Davidson, Rob Williams and Stephen Mosely are the co-founders of Batch Nashville, a subscription service featuring local fare. Since launching in September, the company has branched out with other city batches for Charleston, S.C. and Atlanta, among others. Recently, it sent its 10,000th batch.
Social Entrepreneurship: There's Nashville's Pinewood Social, a new 13,000-square-foot restaurant/amusement park launched by restaurateur siblings Max and Benjamin Goldberg. Their company Strategic Hospitality has six successful restaurants under its belt, and is already a household name in Music City.
Hamburger Helper: Pal's Sudden Service, a drive-thru hot dog-and-burger chain based in Kingsport, Tennessee, which runs 26 restaurants. Each day the CEO, Thomas Crosby and other managers spend 10 percent of his or her time helping a promising employee develop a skill or aptitude.
Sweet Creation: The husband and wife team behind TruBee Honey moved to moved to Franklin, Tennessee in 2007. Today, Laura Kimball and Jeff Otto's company has distribution in approximately 30 states, and also boasts a brisk online retail operation.
Starting to get the picture?
While it's too late to buy a ticket to GROWCO this year (the event is sold out), you can tune in to Inc.com for a full stream of coverage--from breakout events to keynote addresses from the likes of Shark Tank's Mark Cuban and Basecamp's Jason Fried.