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Today we’re excited to release the first statewide Tech Census report in Tennessee, covering the Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga, and Knoxville markets. The report contains findings on momentum, growth, and challenges facing Tennessee’s tech sectors. The data comes from a survey of nearly 200 members from tech communities across the state. Each report is part of the U.S. Tech Census project, Powderkeg’s data-first initiative to measure the growth, vibrancy, and health of tech ecosystems across the country, specifically between the coasts.  

Results showed that more than 30 percent of startups surveyed in Tennessee grew revenue more than 80 percent in 2017. And while Tennessee founders voiced a lack of access to funding similar to their peers in Colorado, Indiana, and Ohio, 65 percent of startup founders surveyed in Tennessee have raised capital. This is the highest percentage of any region surveyed to date by Powderkeg (Boulder, Cincinnati, Denver, Indianapolis).

The results also show an affordable quality of life. The majority of tech employees surveyed in Tennessee have annual household expenses of less than $50k, giving Tennessee the most affordable quality of life of any tech community previously surveyed. This makes Tennessee’s tech communities prime targets for tech talent from around the country looking for a more affordable lifestyle.

“The data found in these Tech Census reports gives fast-growing tech-companies access to data they’ve never had before. This data is a huge benefit to them, helping them use the insights to grow even faster and reach more people,” said Matt Hunckler, CEO and founder of Powderkeg. “It’s exciting to see the Tennessee tech space growing so quick. We’re going to see big things out of the tech ecosystem in this state, which is important as we try to bring a national spotlight to tech hubs outside of Silicon Valley.”

As part of the survey, respondents were given the opportunity to identify area startups with the best culture and the most innovative enterprise companies. The reports identify the top 10 companies in each category and names the following category winners:

  • Best Startup Culture, Chattanooga: Bellhops
  • Best Startup Culture, Knoxville: Cirrus Insight
  • Best Startup Culture, Memphis: SOMAVAC Medical
  • Best Startup Culture, Nashville: emma
  • Most Innovative Enterprise, Chattanooga: EPB
  • Most Innovative Enterprise, Knoxville: Scripps Networks
  • Most Innovative Enterprise, Memphis: FedEx
  • Most Innovative Enterprise, Nashville: Asurion

Additional key findings from the report include:

  • Tennessee provides an affordable quality of life for tech talent. The majority of tech employees surveyed in Tennessee have annual household expenses of less than $50k.
  • Tech employees in Tennessee value company culture, their company’s product, and the quality of their leadership team more than compensation and benefits.
  • Employees in Tennessee value company culture more than any other tech community we’ve surveyed to date.
  • Tennessee is rapidly drawing in tech talent from around the country. 80 percent of tech employees surveyed went to college outside of Tennessee.
  • Tennessee has high-performance startup growth. More than 30 percent of Tennessee startup respondents surged revenue more than 80 percent in 2017, out-pacing several other major tech hubs.
  • Tennessee tech communities are ready to impact social issues, including health and well being, quality education, and diversity and equality.
  • Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville share several common core values like integrity, innovation, and collaboration.
  • 73 percent of tech founder respondents struggled to raise capital.
  • Chattanooga startups are thriving. 55 percent of startup respondents grew revenue more than 80 percent in 2017.
  • Memphis is rated by respondents as the most diverse tech community surveyed to date.

The report was created in partnership between Indianapolis-based Powderkeg and Launch Tennessee, a resource to entrepreneurs that includes capital sources, mentorship, accelerators, entrepreneurship training and more.

“This invaluable data will benefit everyone who works to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tennessee. The insights we’ve learned through this survey show us what entrepreneurs need to build companies in the state, including greater access to capital and market share, and how Tennessee compares to other tech ecosystems across the country. We’re excited to use this data to create new avenues to support entrepreneurs and grow a more startup-friendly state,” said Margaret Dolan, CEO of Launch Tennessee.

Nashville Entrepreneur Center, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, Chattanooga Co. Lab, and Epicenter Memphis were also involved with the Tech Census report.

This is the fifth Tech Census report released. The Indianapolis Tech Census report was released in February, and the Cincinnati Tech Census, Denver Tech Census, and the Boulder Tech Census reports were released in October.

Powderkeg’s Member Platform connects high-growth tech companies outside of Silicon Valley and New York City that have traditionally been at a competitive disadvantage because of resource scarcity and disconnected tech ecosystems. 

Click here to read the full release.

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