Launch Tennessee President and CEO Charlie Brock, leading a discussion panel at the Chattanooga Rotary Club on the future of entrepreneurship in Chattanooga, said, "There are more and more people equating Chattanooga with a strong start-up community."
He told the club that only a few years ago, there were only three or four start-up technology companies in the area. However, he said now, there are so many that they are hard to list.
Panelist Tiffanie Robinson, CEO and founder of WayPaver as well as co-founder of The JumpFund, said, "Over the last seven years I've literally watched Chattanooga grow from the idea of entrepreneurship to the action of entrepreneurship.
..When you have your eyes set on a dream, you can actually come here and make it happen."
Mr. Brock said, "I think over the next few years, Chattanooga has a chance to become one of the top five hotspots for entrepreneurship." He then asked the panelists what the city could do to keep going in this direction.
Panelist David Belitz, a partner of Chattanooga Renaissance Fund, said, "The things that attract Volkswagen, it's not the same set of interests for a technology company."
Mrs. Robinson said, "I'd like to see us figure out how to make Chattanooga more connected globally." She also said Chattanooga needed to find more technology talent and figure out how to keep that talent here. She said a lot of companies started here but ended up in larger cities.
She pointed out another issue, saying, "We need more diverse talent." She said in investment companies all over the world, women currently only make up 11 percent.
One of her organizations, The JumpFund, was created as "an effort to get more females involved in the investment world."
She said the goal is "to see more women at the table writing checks, but also to see more women at the table pitching ideas and creating high-growth companies."
Mr. Belitz said business owners could also help entrepreneurs in Chattanooga by trying out their ideas. He said, "We would love to get our corporate citizens involved."