Top 10 tech companies nurtured by Nashville Tennessee
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Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Most know Nashville as Music City, so now add the label Startup City as well

First settled by a party of Overmountain Men in 1779 on the banks of the Cumberland River, Nashville became official in 1806 as the county seat. In 1843 the city added the tag of capital of Tennessee, thanks to the river traffic and the railroad.

Another nickname for Nashville is the “Athens of the South,” so given because of all the colleges and universities. Leading the parade, Vanderbilt University has nearly 13,000 students, followed by close to 11,000 at Tennessee State U. Throw in some medical and law schools, and Nashville does fit the description of an education hub.

When mixed with politics (and money) and 1,840,000 or so citizens in the metro area, this combination makes a good recipe for startups. Medical startups lead the group, so better healthcare may come from Nashville tomorrow like music does today.

Silicon Ranch Corporation

Photo courtesy: Silicon Ranch

Our modern world needs energy, and a clean way to get that energy is from the sun. Silicon Ranch, one of the leading solar power system providers, has installed over one million solar modules. Silicon Ranch doesn’t just drop panels and run, it builds the system then remains as the long-term owner-operator for all their projects, partnering with landowners, industrial sites, utilities, and developers.

Founded in 2010 by Reagan Farr and Matthew Kisber, Silicon Ranch has received two private equity placements, both from a partnership of Greystone Managed Investments and Partners Group. The first, for $100 million, came in April 2016. The second, $55 million, arrived in January 2017. A bright bottom investment line of $155 million gives a prediction of sunny days ahead.

Covenant Surgical Partners

Photo courtesy: Covenant Surgical Partners

Medical costs often cause more pain than the procedures, and hospitals are one major inflation point. Enter Covenant Surgical Partners with their business model of ambulatory (walk in, walk out much more slowly) surgical centers, pathology laboratories, and physician practices. The tech hook? All back office operations happen via the cloud back in Nashville, letting surgeons and physicians focus on patients, not paperwork.

The cloud push was under way in 2008 when Covenant started, and by March 2009 a venture placement of $461k was delivered, along with another $360 in November that year. Multiple other similar placements fed growth and success attracted $35 million in Series C funding in February 2013. Another venture round and some debt financing led to a January 2014 venture placement of $18.41 million. All told, over $76 million.

Aspire Health

Photo courtesy: Aspire Health

What is old is new again as Aspire Health includes in-home patient visits in their enhanced support of patients facing serious illnesses. As 10,000 Americans reach age 65 every day, more long-term illnesses need modern care and management for better health results and patient comfort.

Founded in 2011 after smartphones made mobile computing feasible for thousands of new applications, Aspire received an undisclosed amount of Series A funding in July 2013. A month later, Nashville Capital Network prescribed $1 million in seed funding. Almost a year later, Series B bucks from four investors added another $5.5 million, followed almost a year after that with $15 million in Series C funds from Oak HC/FT. October 2016 brought four investors with Series D funding totaling $32 million. To date, Aspire Health has received around or above $54 million.

Smartvue Corporation

Photo courtesy: Smartvue

When can a 21 year old company be called a startup? When cloud-backed Internet of Things video surveillance firm Smartvue Corporation began a pivot from analog video to join the networked surveillance world starting about four years ago. Welcome to Platform-as-a-Service video.

Formed in the spring of 1996, the pivot began with $250k in venture validation in February 2010, followed by $1.75 million in seed money in November 2013. After $3.85 million in Series A money in April 2014, Fortress Investment Group dropped in with $15 million in Series B bucks in April 2015. After some debt financing in May of that year, the total looks like well over $22 million.

Axial Healthcare

Photo courtesy: Axial Healthcare

Health problems often lead to serious pain problems, and those can lead to addiction and worse. Axial Healthcare offers a data-driven predictive pain management solution to reduce costs and complications for their clients.

Big data tools haven’t been around all that long, so Axial’s founding in 2012 makes sense because their predictive protocols need data to crunch. Axial received $50k seed money in September 2013, followed by $1.75 million in Series A money a year later. July 2015 brought another Series A placement of $8 million, followed by $16.5 million in October 2016. That makes $26.3 million in four rounds from seven investors.


Photo courtesy: Splitsecnd

The news may be full of genius self-driving cars, but the roads remain full of dumb boxes on wheels. Splitsecnd changes that by making a portable plug-in “vehicle connectivity device” that provides GPS tracking (hear that, parents of teen drivers?), crash notification, location tracking for help, and even a voice connection to a live operator.

May 2012 started the work on Splitsecnd, rewarded in July the next year with $517k in seed money. December 2015 brought $6.29 million in venture backing, followed by an undisclosed amount in August 2016. Add that up and you get $6.8+ million.


Photo courtesy: Emma

What would people buy if advertising didn’t help make up their minds? For the sake of Emma, the advanced automation email marketing company, let’s hope we never face that world of indecision. Analytics to A/B Testing to everything else from Emma will improve email marketing for companies.

Starting back when email wasn’t all that great, 2003, Emma rocked along by servicing customers and organic growth. By 2015, analytics and big data became critical, and in July Nashville Capital Network and Square 1 Bank partnered to email $5 million in venture funding.

IQuity Inc.

Photo courtesy: IQuity Labs

Human biology may be the largest batch of big data each of us deals with. IQuity Inc. uses machine learning tools and big data processes to deliver breakthrough RNA analytics and diagnostics.

2015 was the year IQuity started, and by January 2016 they attracted attention and $2 million in seed money from an undisclosed investor. In May 2017 the company received $2.35 million in angel funding for a total so far of $4.35 million.

BKON Connect

Photo courtesy: BKON Connect

The old advice was that the way to man’s heart was through is stomach, but today we reject that old sexist trope because we know the way to a consumer’s wallet is through the smartphone. And BKON Connect offers a “Customer Directed Engagement Platform” of hardware and software tools that turn any smartphone into a sales and information platform.

Getting to work in 2014, seven years after the iPhone arrived, BKON received $1.11 million in seed money in October 2015. Another $2.75 million arrived in April 2017 for a total of $3.85 million.

Hurdl, Inc.

Photo courtesy: Hurdl

Now that people can stream music for free, musicians need to find better ways to connect to their live audiences. One cool way is with Hurdl’s PIXL wearable device. Attendees strap it on their wrist, text plenty of information about themselves to the Hurdl servers, and the light on their wrists get them more involved and the sponsors more marketing opportunities. Music acts are a natural hook, as are sports teams and every other event that draws a crowd.

Just started in February 2016, Hurdl received $775k in September that year for a convertible note, and another $2.5 million in seed funding in June 2017. To date, $3.28 million.

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James Gaskin

About James Gaskin

James writes books, articles, and jokes about technology, and consults for those who don’t read his books and articles.

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