Northeast Tennessee

Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Map

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What is an ecosystem map?

An entrepreneurial ecosystem map is a visual representation that illustrates the interconnected elements and components that foster entrepreneurship, growth, and innovation within a specific region or community. It provides an overview of the key organization, resources, support systems, and pathways that contribute to the growth and success of entrepreneurial activities.

Our team has conducted Visioning Sessions in collaboration with various organizations across the region to create this comprehensive ecosystem map. Through this initiative, we aim to facilitate enhanced collaboration and efficiency within our regional network. This collaborative framework is intended to aid in the collective pursuit of our goals: supporting and empowering entrepreneurs, business owners, and visionaries throughout the region.

Let's Break It Down

The map is broken into 4 major growth stages for a business:

In this initial stage, entrepreneurs conceive and envision a business idea. It involves brainstorming, creativity, and identifying a market need or opportunity. The focus is on ideation, conceptualization, and crafting a vision for the business.

For this section, we have identified three major milestones as Networking, Concept, and Training.

Providing networking opportunities for entrepreneurs, students, inventors, creators, remote and a digital workers through events, meetups and spaces.
People in the concept phase are looking for ways to brainstorm, evaluate, and refine their business idea and draft a roadmap to begin their business journey.
Programs, lunch-and-learns and demonstrations to provide free or low-cost access to training for entrepreneurs and creators to advance their skillsets.
During this phase, the business idea takes shape as entrepreneurs formalize their plans, create a business model, conduct market research, and develop a prototype or minimum viable product. This is a critical stage for a business to gain stability in terms of their business plan, workspace, and resources.

For this section, we have identified six major milestones as University Programs, Prototype Development, Market Intro, Seed Stage Capital, Co-Working Spaces, and other types of Specialized Work Spaces.

University Programs
Programs that have direct involvement with higher education partners including on-campus bootcamps, meetups, and research programs and internship opportunities for startups.
Prototype Development
Access to equipment and professionals with experience building digital or physical prototypes of business ideas including app design, 3D printing, food experimentation and more.
Market Intro
Introduction to partners that mentor, connect and support an entrepreneur as they journey from idea to startup and seek to understand where they fit in the market and who are their customers.
Seed Stage Capital
Seed capital is initial funding to start a business and fund the proof of concept and viability of the startup. Friends and Family, Angel capital, micro-venture capital and small grant or loan programs typical support this stage.
Co-Working Spaces
Co-working spaces offer discounted access to shared services such as high-speed internet, office equipment and meeting rooms. They also are community spaces to help promote entrepreneurial culture and sharing of experiences.
Specialized Spaces
Facilities which have specialized equipment or unique assets needed for entrepreneurs. These spaces typically have a focus on high priced equipment or niche services supported by outside grants and partnerships.
In the growth stage, the business gains traction and expands its customer base. Entrepreneurs refine their products or services based on market feedback, optimize operations, and ramp up marketing efforts. The focus is on scaling the business sustainably and establishing a solid foundation for further expansion.

For this section, we have identified two major milestones as Early Stage Capital and Growth Programs.

Early Stage Capital
Capital that supports the expansion of a startup’s team, equipment needs or even initial manufacturing. Partners who participate in early-stage investing may include small angel funds and venture funds.
Growth Programs
Accelerators and professional mentor networks become exponentially valuable for startup companies that have gained traction through initial programs, training and support.
Scaling involves rapid and strategic expansion of the business to reach a broader market. Entrepreneurs implement efficient processes, explore new markets, form strategic partnerships, and potentially seek additional funding. The goal is to achieve significant growth and market expansion while maintaining profitability and organizational agility.

For this section, we have identified two major milestones as Expansion Resources and Growth Capital.

Expansion Resources
As a startup gains traction and seeks to become rooted in the community, the level connectivity and resources become important to ensure the company can remain and grow in the ecosystem.
Growth Capital
Access to capital is extremely important for companies as they grow their workforce, successfully meet the demands of their customers and seek to advance to long-term sustainability.

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Our Locations

Kingsport Entrepreneur Center

227 E Sullivan St, Kingsport, TN 37660

Inventor Center

118 Shelby St, Kingsport, TN 37660

Create Appalachia Digital Media Centers

225 W. Center St., Suite 115, Kingsport, TN 37660

714 W Walnut Street
Johnson City, TN 37604

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