In the last decade, the cities of Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville have grown Tennessee tech tremendously, attracting skilled talent, founders, and investors from across the country. Today, we talk with a CEO of a public-private partnership with Entrepreneur Centers in seven regions across the state focused on connecting and nurturing innovative startups, and tight-knit communities—mixed with a healthy dose of Southern hospitality—that has become a secret weapon on their journey toward startup success.

On today’s episode of the Powderkeg Podcast, we’re talking with Van Tucker, CEO at Venture Capital Firm, Launch Tennessee.

As CEO, Van Tucker supports the mission and vision of making Tennessee the best state in the nation for startups by empowering a network of resources. Before joining LaunchTN in early 2020, Tucker served as founding CEO of the Nashville Fashion Alliance, a trade organization that raised international awareness of its $6B economic impact. Before that, Van was a cofounder of Avenue Bank as Chief Creative Officer, responsible for award-winning brand development. Tune in to hear more!

In this episode with Van Tucker, you’ll learn:

  • How the Volunteer State is creating the next wave of entrepreneurs
  • The best ways to show support for underrepresented founders
  • What makes Tennessee Tech special for incoming talent
  • More on this year’s 36|86 Festival hosted by Launch Tennessee
  • Van’s greatest vision for entrepreneurship and startups in Tennessee

Figuring out your next career move doesn’t have to be so stressful. So why not try Powderkeg Matches?

By joining Matches, you’re joining a community of thousands of top professionals in the Powderkeg community to get connected with outstanding people at the hottest tech companies between the coasts. Get matched with great employers, land your next major opportunity, and get started today!

Please enjoy this conversation with Van Tucker!

If you like this episode, please subscribe and leave us a review on iTunes. You can also follow us on Soundcloud or Stitcher. We have an incredible lineup of interviews we’ll be releasing every Tuesday here on the Powderkeg Podcast.

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Episode Transcript

Matt Hunckler 00:00
What’s the most startup friendly state in the entire US Today we talk to the CEO of a public private partnership with entrepreneurs centers in seven regions across the state to learn how one southern state is innovating during the pandemic, and beyond. Welcome to the powderkeg podcast, the show that plugs you into the massive opportunities in startups and tech hubs beyond Silicon Valley that are exploding with potential. I’m your host, Matt Hunckler. And today, we have an exciting episode lined up for you. With this conversation that we recorded recently with Van Tucker Chief Executive Officer at launch, Tennessee, launched Tennessee creates collaboration among entrepreneurs, the private sector, capital sources, institutions, and the government to offer entrepreneurs what they need to succeed and stay in Tennessee to build companies and create jobs. We’re going to dive into some really interesting startup topics, and stories with exciting things happening in Tennessee Tech and just across the entire state there with vans journey and in the world of startups and innovation. As a CEO of launch Tennessee van Tucker supports the mission and vision of making Tennessee the best state in the nation for startups by empowering a network of resources across the state. Before joining launch, Tennessee in early 2020. Tucker served as founding CEO of the Nashville fashion Alliance, a trade organization that raise international awareness for the industry’s $6 billion economic impact. They’re in Tennessee, and Nashville specifically. Prior to that van was a co founder of Avenue bank as chief creative officer. And she was responsible for award winning brand development there. From this interview, you’ll be able to tell van is extremely creative. And she was very quick to help startups and scaling tech companies respond to the COVID 19 crisis. This is something that a lot of interesting stories, a lot of things to be learned from Vans leadership, but also the entrepreneurs and other tech leaders mentioned in this episode. I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Let’s get right into it. Van, thank you so much for being here on the show today. It’s good to have you.

Van Tucker 02:18
I’m thrilled to be here with you, Matt. Thanks.

Matt Hunckler 02:20
I know you’ve got a lot going on right now at launch Tennessee gearing up for your first fully virtual 3686. And I know huge shifts happening throughout the state of Tennessee. So I want to say just thanks for taking the time.

Van Tucker 02:35
Oh, well, of course. And we have so much in common. You know, we’re definitely interested in raising the profile of entrepreneurs and innovators outside the coast. And recognize that your leadership in that area and our leadership have a lot of synergies. So thanks for having me.

Matt Hunckler 02:56
Absolutely. Well, I know, you stepped in as CEO back in January. And this has been quite the year to step into the CEO role at an organization, especially one as far reaching as launch Tennessee. Can you tell me a little bit about what you’re seeing on the ground now throughout the state of Tennessee in the tech and innovation sectors?

Van Tucker 03:18
Sure. Well, it’s just it’s a new world. Right. It’s a new world for everyone. But I believe that this is the time for entrepreneurs and innovators to step up and shine. And in many ways we’re seeing that happen. It’s been a difficult environment to raise capital. If you didn’t already have venture capital, if you weren’t already in a portfolio, that’s probably been a little difficult and much more difficult outside of the coast. You know, we already had a challenge with that. But I think that’s that’s become a little more of a challenge in some ways. But in other ways, we’re now especially we’re beginning to see folks in those markets, take a look outside of the traditional markets and say, well, maybe this is a good time for me to for me to take a look. So we’re pretty excited about that. We’ve seen some some companies that have really taken advantage of this environment. Their product was well suited for it like Shani doll at possibe and her app that connects teachers and parents in school setting. I mean, you can imagine what’s happened there. And we’re very proud of her. She’s the first black woman in the state of Tennessee to raise over a million dollars and we’re very proud to have been played a part in that. You know, there have been others that haven’t been able to make the pivot and, and find their path. And that’s entrepreneurship, right? I mean, that’s how innovation works. You know, you you try, you fail, you try, you fail, you keep trying, you keep failing until you get it right. That’s, that’s what I love about

Matt Hunckler 05:17
it. I think you just described the entrepreneurial journey for just about every startup I’ve ever encountered. Yeah, I mean, that’s how it works. Are there any sort of patterns that you’ve seen in the companies in the state of Tennessee that have been able to make the pivot or make the adjustments necessary to adapt to this new world?

Van Tucker 05:38
Yeah, and, and it’s, and there’s no, there’s no playbook. So there’s no set pattern, for example, we’ve seen in life sciences, for example, we’ve seen a lot of our research at our research institutions, places like Vanderbilt in the University of Memphis, the University of Tennessee, Tennessee Tech, and particularly in the life sciences area, I feel pretty confident that they’ll be in Tennessee fingerprint on a vaccine. And so, so there’s been, you know, definitely, there’s been a lot of activity in that area, and there’s still so much unknown. So, you know, we’ll, we’ll see how, how that progresses. You know, I think the energy sector is also really big in Tennessee with TVA and Oak Ridge National Labs and UTS Research Foundation, there’s been a lot of interest in alternative energy sources and how we can I think there’s just been a raised awareness in general of, of things like climate change, and how we can be more efficient in general, an energy certainly a place in advanced manufacturing, you know, we’ve seen some great pivots there, Nissan Motor Manufacturing pivoted from making cars to making face shields like that. Yeah. So you know, it’s exciting to be able to see all the different ways that people can get creative. I’m all about creativity, business, all about it. And, and, you know, I think a lot of times when people hear the word creativity, they’re thinking about marketing, or they’re thinking about, you know, they’re thinking about not even having anything to do with business or thinking about art, or they’re thinking about music, and especially in Tennessee, they may be thinking about music. But you know, creativity is really a mindset. It’s about asking questions, not being afraid to ask questions, it’s about being able to look at things differently. It’s about being able to, to really make those connections, and understand how everything fits together so that you can redo the puzzle when you need to, to me, that’s creativity.

Matt Hunckler 08:05
Are there any particular questions that you’d like to ask? When you’re in those moments when you’re trying to tap into a little bit of creativity or any rules that you follow in terms of how you ask questions and kind of uncover the next question?

Van Tucker 08:20
Well, in that the great thing about creativity, no, there’s no, there’s no process. And I think that’s different, um, for different circumstances, you know, if you’re, if you’re in the restaurant business, your business fundamentals are a little bit different than if you’re in the car manufacturing business. And, you know, but I think I think, you know, there are fundamental questions around finance, around marketing around human resource management, you know, we’ve all gone to work from home. You know, it’s the questions around culture, and how do I continue to build my culture, keep my culture alive? While my employees are still scattered all over the place? You know, those are, those are all fundamental questions that you can ask. But I think those that find this environment most exciting are not afraid to ask some hard questions to like, why aren’t we doing this differently? Or maybe it’s not broken, but can we do it better? You know, I think those this is the time you can be asking those questions.

Matt Hunckler 09:29
Well, I’m really glad that you’ve mentioned a couple times is the shift to remote and I think folks like us are really paying attention to that because we’re here in the middle of the country. We already were doing a lot of business on zoom on the phone. You know, sometimes at larger gatherings and conferences like 3686 where everyone would come together in one place or on tours like Rise of the rest. Were actually going in meeting physically, but but this shift to remote work is a trend that seems like it’s becoming a part of a greater tech expansion from places like the Bay Area, Seattle, New York, Boston, two regions that attracts the most venture capital funding. Or those are the regions that attract the most venture capital funding to areas like the Midwest and the South, that, although maybe historically have not gotten the majority of the funds, it is where even before COVID-19 venture capital investment was accelerating the fastest.

Van Tucker 10:33
Well, you know, I think I have a couple of thoughts around that. First of all, I think many companies have been forced into the realization, you know, it’s not any easier to work from home now than it was a year ago. Right? I mean, it was just as easy a year ago, we just chose not to do it. And I will have to tell you, I’m an extrovert. So I draw my energy from being around people, and I miss it, I really do I miss it. However, I also have to recognize as a leader, our team has been much more productive, much more engaged, working from home. And, and I acknowledge that. So and I’m sure there are other companies that are coming to grips with that, too. And so I think it remains to be seen what the long term implication is, because people have very short memories. And when we have a vaccine, people will go back to the office. fairly sure that it may, it will not, as I started to say may not, I believe it will not look the same, as it has always looked. And I think many companies are coming to that realization that they can be more productive, that they can contain their cost more effectively, working from home. But that doesn’t work for everyone. And and we need to recognize that, but I do think there’s been a fundamental shift. And, and it remains to be seen what the what the, you know, the long term implication of that is,

Matt Hunckler 12:10
you mentioned that, you know, startups that maybe aren’t already part of a portfolio have certainly struggled, not just in Tennessee, but we’re seeing that across powderkeg economies in the middle of the country, Bay Area companies in New York City companies are seeing that they’re all struggling. Yep.

Van Tucker 12:28
I mean, you know, there’s not an industry, there’s not a company, there’s big, small in between profit, nonprofit, there’s not an entity that has not had to change some aspect of their business. Yeah. And, you know, we’ll, we’ll see how much goes back to quote, normal, you know, I mean, I’m not, I don’t think anyone knows what normal is gonna look like. And even if it’s going to be normal, anytime soon, we’ll see. I do think though, one thing that will be the result of this is, we have the opportunity to show that you don’t have to be on the coasts, or in those major cities to have an impact. And in fact, there are advantages where you can have a greater impact, for example, it’s much less expensive to live here than it is in New York, Boston, or, or Silicon Valley, much less expensive. And we have the talent, you know, we have we have the talent to be able to staff, a lot of those companies. We have all the tools that they have. So So I think people will realize that being in that proximity certainly has its advantages, but the advantages are not as great as I think they once thought they were. And I think we have an opportunity to to change some of that.

Matt Hunckler 14:06
Oh, 100% 100% and I think winners will definitely emerge from today’s shocks. You already mentioned a couple of examples of companies that are thriving in Tennessee and across the state. I think one of the things that’s really interesting about launch Tennessee, you know, we we work in a lot of different states. But I haven’t seen another state organization quite like launch Tennessee with with actual offices, or at least entrepreneurship centers in seven different cities across the state. You know, we wanted to do a tech census in Nashville to gather more data and insights into the tech community there in Nashville and you all on Tennessee said sure, but you’re also going to do it for the rest of the state. Which was awesome. Now no one else in any other city had had said that and So we got a lot more interesting data and insights. And as a result, I think you’re, each individual city thrives because it’s connected as part of a broader collective. Have you seen any of that come through as you’ve responded to COVID-19. And some of the other big shifts that we’ve seen the last couple of months?

Van Tucker 15:23
Why don’t you turn that to be one of my best marketing tools, I appreciate that. I mean, we are empowering an ecosystem. You know, those those we have seven entrepreneurs centers across the state, we have three Statewide Mentor networks that really are industry verticals, we’re adding two more of those this year. So life sciences, veteran entrepreneurs, advanced energy, and we’re going to add ag and automotive tech this year. So those are statewide initiatives. They’re not city specific. They provide resources and mentor access to startups in those industry verticals, and they that’s proven to be a huge success. The seven entrepreneurs centers across the state. While we fund them, we do not direct their work when we don’t provide all their funding. We just provide some of their funding. And each one of those cities is unique. They’re unique in their ethos and their culture. They’re unique in their expertise. So you have healthcare and music and entertainment in Nashville, you have consumer packaging, and distribution in Chattanooga, you have advanced energy in Knoxville, I mean, you know, everybody has their own specialty. And the great thing about that statewide network is They also rely on each other. So if someone walks into Knoxville, and says, Hey, I have a great idea for an entertainment company, then they can pick up the phone, and they can call the National Entrepreneur Center and say, help, you know, help this person. And they do. And they all collaborate together. And, and that’s interesting for a couple of reasons. First of all, if you’re an entrepreneur looking for a place to start a company, it’s very comforting to know that there’s an organization in place that’s coordinating these resources on a statewide basis. If you’re an investor, that saves you time and money, because you don’t have to call and do the research on seven different cities or 15, different industry verticals, you can come to one place and get that information. And that’s what I think makes launch Tennessee and frankly, the state of Tennessee, I think that’s what makes the tightest state of Tennessee. Really interesting from an investor and an entrepreneur perspective. We’re unique in our ability to make those connections for investors. And we can facilitate curated conversations which save some time and money will have it

Matt Hunckler 18:09
well. And that was definitely came through in the tech census data, you know exactly what you said, each of those various tech hubs and metros is very different and is unique in its own way. But a shared core value of all of those cities was collaboration.

Van Tucker 18:27
Without question, you know, and you can look at the work that’s going on at Oak Ridge National Labs and UTS research facility, what’s going on at the University of Memphis, from a tech perspective, would place our entrepreneurs, researchers and innovators up against anybody’s they’re all doing incredible work. And you had asked the question about what he thought the impact of, of some of our work might have on our current environment with COVID. You know, in their, their the obvious life science issues. Vanderbilt, for example, has licensed one of their antibodies to AstraZeneca, who’s one of the front runners with a vaccine. Yeah. So, but there’s also some really amazing work that’s going on at Tennessee Tech and cook bowl and at the University of Memphis, our University of Tennessee in Memphis, so, so you know, I think, but I think there are also some other things going on, like companies trying to understand how they can pivot to address the PPE issue or the testing swab issue. You know, I mean, we we have a lot of companies that are looking at this from a solution perspective and not wallowing in their problem.

Matt Hunckler 19:57
Well, and that’s what I love about that entrepreneur. So spirit that’s kind of woven throughout the organization throughout the state. And it’s it’s even in the the talent that’s there in Tennessee, one of the one of the stats I remember from the tech census in Tennessee is that 80% of the tech workforce that we surveyed, we surveyed hundreds of people working at tech companies in Tennessee. More than 80% of those employees came from a university outside of the state of Tennessee, and then found their way to Tennessee to find jobs. Are you seeing more people continue to come into Tennessee now kind of post COVID? What’s, what’s kind of that talent pipeline looked like the last couple of months.

Van Tucker 20:41
Well, that’s, that’s interesting, because we’ll go back to remote working, I think many, many in the tech industry are learning their their employers are learning that it’s okay for them to not be in those cities that they can do their work remotely. And I think a lot of those workers are looking for places that are better suit their lifestyle. And when you look at a place like Tennessee with all of our lovely parks and rivers and waterfalls, and kayaking, all the outdoor activities, and then our arts community is amazing. We have the second most vibrant arts community in the country. So from music, to performing arts, to fashion to clubs, you know, we have an amazing cultural community, and it’s a great place to live. It’s great place to raise your kids,

Matt Hunckler 21:48
when you’ve got an incredible food scene there to one of your one of our original leaders for powderkeg in Tennessee. Worked for I think it was called edible Nashville. And yeah, and I always love trying new spots when I come down to Nashville and Memphis barbecue. Oh, my gosh, that is something you won’t forget after you have that. How have some of the small businesses pivoted and adjusted during these these massive economic shifts?

Van Tucker 22:25
Well, you know, we’ve seen a real uptick in our farming community, and particularly our small organic farms. People want to eat better. Yeah. They have, they feel like they have the time to cook more. So I think many of our smaller businesses that are maybe meat or poultry providers, more organic, or free range products. Certainly the small farms like Bloomsbury farm rose Creek farms in West Tennessee, they’ve seen a big uptake. I think so from a culinary perspective, I think people are starting to look more for local, local, produce local, locally produced meat, etc. So I think that’s that’s one that you don’t really think about, you know, think there are fashion community has dramatically on producing mask. We have a commercial sewing training academy in Nashville that, you know, a week into COVID started producing mask at an incredible rate. You know, so I think I think many small businesses are just trying to find a way to survive. And you know, it’s tough, it’s a tough environment, and especially when we already know pre pandemic that 50% of small businesses go out of business the first year. So, you know, that’s been even tougher, and even with the paycheck Protection Program, many of those businesses would not have lasted the year anyway. Right? I mean, we know statistically we know that that’s the truth. And so that makes organizations that we work with even more important to, to really help people think through their business idea, they have a better survival rate. Or they they get in and get out quick. They decide Nope, this is not for me. So, you know, I think that makes an organization like ours and our network partners. Even more important in this environment is helping people understand what they can do to address the crisis, or how they can better manage their business through the crisis.

Matt Hunckler 24:54
Well, I am really glad that launch Tennessee is there to help support a lot of that shift and has mentors and networks that can kind of help with a lot of that pivoting. And in addition to the big economic shifts, we’re definitely seeing a lot of societal shifts too. And you think about some of those big societal issues like Black Lives Matter that has become more prevalent in the news lately, which I think is positive change for the tech and innovation industries. We’ve talked about in a number of episodes of the podcast here. And we’ve certainly had some amazing members of your black entrepreneur community, Marcus Cobb, from Jabber, Daniel Oaklawn was one of our first leaders of powderkeg in in Nashville. We’ve done some things with Marcus Whitney in the past, I know he just came out with a great new book. Oh, my gosh, have you had him on to talk about? Not yet, I really, I really am trying to get him on the show, I think I think we’re going to hopefully make that happen. But I know he’s been on a heavy rotation of podcast tours lightly.

Van Tucker 25:55
I’m such a fan. So we bought copies of Marcus’s book to put in the libraries of all of our entrepreneurs centers, and enough for them to give away to entrepreneurs as well. I’ve known Marcus for years. He’s brilliant, this book is brilliant. It’s timely. It is needed exactly at this moment. And, you know, I think it’s, it’s been an interesting time for Black Lives Matter and the social injustice. You know, I think, I think in many ways, people are just tired of things that don’t work anymore, and they’re tired of, of not saying something and frankly, not doing something, you know, we have have, for several years, had initiatives to support and lift up on what we call underrepresented founders in the entrepreneur community. So whether that is, you know, black or brown skinned, whether that’s female, whether that’s rural entrepreneurs, funding resources for underrepresented entrepreneurs has been a pillar of our work for several years. And so we’ve only been able to really heighten the awareness of the impact of that work. And, and I’m really proud of the work that we’ve done in that area. And I’m really proud of the fact that our staff keeps that top of mind, you know, we have a very small fund where we can invest in Tennessee based businesses, and a major tenet of that fund is for underrepresented minorities. So we spend a great deal of time putting our money where our mouth is, so to speak, investing in those in those businesses,

Matt Hunckler 27:57
planting seeds. Yeah, that’s right. What are some of the things what are some of the other things that have worked? To kind of help create more awareness there? Or support those kinds of entrepreneurs or even tech workers? Or what are some of the opportunities that you see still ahead of us to create more of that opportunity and create a more equitable environment for

Van Tucker 28:21
everybody? Well, you know, venture capitalists tough no matter what color your skin or what race you were, you know, what, what gender you are. But we’ve got to do a better job like venture capital. And that’s, that’s definitely definite, we’ve got to do, we’ve got to be more creative with ways to find investment, and minority owned businesses. And we have a lot of success stories. Also think we need to do a better job of encouraging tech talent to be developed with minority representation. And I think that that it will be very empowering for our state to be able to leverage some resources there. You know, I think it’s like anything else in the entrepreneur world, what you focus on what you measure what you pay attention to happens. And I’m really proud to say that every day all the members of the launch Tennessee staff, our network partners, were paying attention. We’re paying attention to that and we’re seriously trying to focus our creative thinking on how we can be better.

Matt Hunckler 29:42
That’s awesome. It’s it’s great to hear that you’re measuring those things. Because I was thinking of the I think, but Peter Drucker saying what gets measured gets managed, and certainly something that needs focus nationwide. So it’s awesome to hear that launched Tennessee’s focusing on that in the state of Tennessee.

Van Tucker 30:01
Yeah, I clearly believe that and you know, going back to Marcus, you know, I mean, Marcus is he’s no legacy heir to great fortune, you know, Mark versus story is he came to Nashville as a waiter, and taught himself to code and he’s lifted himself up to be one of the most engaged healthcare investors in the ecosystem. And that’s why I think his book is so relevant. It’s doesn’t matter from where you start. You put the work in, and you can get there. And we’re excited to support people who are willing to put the work in.

Matt Hunckler 30:47
That’s awesome. Well, speaking of putting the work in, I know launch, Tennessee, has spent a lot of time figuring out how to pivot. It’s very well known event. 3686, just an awesome tech summit, I’ve had the privilege of speaking there, a number of years, both as a panelist as a speaker, but also as an emcee for the Oak Ridge pitch competition. So I’ve gotten to see a lot of cool innovation throughout the state of Tennessee just through coming to those events alone. I’m bummed that it you know, in some ways, I’m bummed that it can’t be in person this year, I’m feel that way about everything. I’m an extrovert.

Van Tucker 31:25
I’m an extrovert. I can’t I can’t handle it. My mom, first year is CEO, and it’s going to be a virtual conference. I mean, it’s but I but I do have to say our team has done an amazing job of putting together something that is not just another zoom conference, I mean, much of our our content is very engaging. Some of it has been pre recorded. So it’s colored corrected. And it’s exciting. And you know, I think we we’ve also tried to be really conscious of the fact I can’t sit in front of a computer screen for eight hours, I can’t do it, it would just drive me nuts. So we have we have staggered the segments into 30 minute steg segments with 15 minute breaks in between. And we’re having a morning session and an afternoon session. So I hope that will help alleviate some of the fatigue that people might feel. We have five tracks, healthcare, entertainment, and digital media build scale, and culture. Each track has two days, culture will be each Friday, so the first week and the second week. And that’s all over the place. It’s from looking at our arts community to the culture of building a company and how you can do that better. So they’ve done a really great job of making 3686 really engaging. But what we’re really known for what 30, what I think is the secret sauce to 3686 is the professional intimacy of the event. And we have thought long and hard about how we would recreate that online. And I think we have some really great solutions. We’re using a platform called bizzabo. And there’s a great online networking opportunity there that I hope people will give give a shot, give it a try. I tried it yesterday I was so skeptical extrovert remember, I was so skeptical. And it’s it’s really pretty amazing. And then for investors and entrepreneurs that want to connect, we’re using gorilla, which is the AI driven platform that’s used disrupt, and collision and some of the bigger we really sunk some investment there so that we can have a first class experience for entrepreneurs and investors to be able to connect. Well, I’m

Matt Hunckler 34:10
really excited about it. And it I know you’ve put a lot of work into it. It’s been fun working with your team to get things ready to host the build track, which I’ll be doing. August 17, through the 28th is the duration of 3686. This year, probably the most global 3686 ever I’m sure just because anyone from anywhere can attend. And if people want to

Van Tucker 34:34
reach out we have we have a lot of people from all over the world. Yeah, have already registered. So our 36 agencies and global message is getting out there. That’s all I mean, I think that’s the upside of virtual right. If you’re in France, you can sign on.

Matt Hunckler 34:50
It’s something we’ve certainly seen here at powderkeg. You know, we were running monthly events mostly in the Midwest just because that’s close for us or mid All over the country, they’re in Nashville, we’ve done some events there. And you know, you usually find people that are half day’s drive from that, coming to it, and maybe some investors from the coasts that want to be in that place where things are happening. But as we’ve shifted to the virtual events, we have certainly seen an uptick in global attendance. And people from the coasts, people from Canada, people from Europe, coming in plugging into amazing tech companies that are growing right here in the middle of the country, in areas outside of Silicon Valley, New York and Massachusetts. So I imagine you’ll see that at a similar scale for for launch Tennessee, and if people want to sign up for that, which I highly encourage, even if they’re just gonna attend part of it at launch t Is that right? That’s right,

Van Tucker 35:49
or at 1036 80 Either one gets you there, you know, it’s, the ticket is very inexpensive. Even if you choose the brella option, or the networking enhanced option, I think it’s still $60. And that price is going to go up August 1. I think so, um, you know, it’s very reasonably priced, you don’t risk a whole lot. And, you know, I think our real goal here is for this to be an opportunity for people to really see firsthand what is going on in Tennessee, what is so special about Tennessee, and that when we are able to convene in person again, they’ll think more seriously about making that trip to convene with us. And because we’re a lot of fun here.

Matt Hunckler 36:48
Absolutely. As soon as I can person I am I am there 100%. Fine, and I’m super, super happy that the show is going on this year, you’re continuing the momentum. I just want to say thank you for everything that you do in the state of Tennessee to help create a better connected tech ecosystem. I know this year has not been easy for anybody, and certainly not for a new new position as CEO. So it really seems like you’ve you’ve been navigating things really well there. And thanks for

Van Tucker 37:19
all your You’re very kind, but we are, you know, like everybody else. We’re just trying to do the best we can. And I appreciate all the work that you do Matt trying to wet raise awareness that there are entrepreneurs were they outside of the code? So thank you for that work. And thanks for spending time with me today.

Matt Hunckler 37:39
Absolutely. It’s been a pleasure. And looking forward to seeing you on the different networking apps for 3686.

Van Tucker 37:46
I know it’ll be fun, and you make it fun. My ad that’s what I’ll tell you make your an MC make it fun.

Matt Hunckler 37:53
Oh, yeah. You know, I I’ve got my 3686 t shirt at the ready. Oh, you

Van Tucker 37:59
got your speaker package? Yeah, that’s awesome. Actually, this packages are.

Matt Hunckler 38:03
This is actually from, I think last year or the year before when there were screen printed t so this is a vintage item.

Van Tucker 38:11
Oh, you’re gonna pull out your vintage stuff. Well, it’s likely that you’re gonna get in the mail in the next few days. This year’s version.

Matt Hunckler 38:19
Okay, cool. Well, I might have to throw that on to.

Van Tucker 38:23
All right. Well, thank you so much.

Matt Hunckler 38:26
Thank you to Van this has been awesome. That’s it for today’s show. Thank you so much for listening. Also, huge thanks to my guest van Tucker. Make sure you check out van and all the amazing work she’s doing with her team at launch Tennessee, you can find that at launch t You can also find out all about 3686. And the awesome lineup that they have prepared there for what’s going to be an amazing virtual conference. So make sure you check that out at launch t And for links to social profiles for Van 3686, launch tn. All these great people and organizations and the other companies and resources that were mentioned in this episode, head on over to and make sure you check out the show notes while you’re there. And if you’re looking to hear even more interesting stories, conversations and opportunities to connect directly with top tier founders, leaders and innovators, make sure you get a sense subscribe on iTunes at That’s P O W And thank you to everyone who has already left us a review on iTunes that is super helpful for us to reach other people with the awesome stories that you hear right here on the podcast. Thank you again for joining me today and we’ll catch you next time on the powder keg podcast.