Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wizards Wanted: Startup Weekend Nashville Oct. 10-12

Nashville's Startup Weekend, in which techies band together for 54 hours to produce new products, new businesses and-or new ideas, is solid for Oct. 10-12, on the Vanderbilt campus. Co-Leads Nicholas Holland and Jason Moore stress that software and web developers, database demons, designers, marketers, lawyers, promoters and others with the tech chops to help one or more teams are wanted NOW. Pro's have begun joining the Startup Weekend Nashville community at the site here. If you don't find what you're looking for, register and post your queries. Startup Weekend, so successful in other cities, should be an anchorpoint, along with Barcamp Nashville and other events this fall, for Nashville's next surge in technology community-building.

VU spin-out venture promotes Med Center ties

Informatics Corporation of America (ICA), the venture formed by Vanderbilt University three years ago, has been moving ahead with the ease only a well-capitalized company enjoys, picking up a couple of prominent customers as early proof of the value of healthcare informatics products initially developed at VU Medical Center. Enviably, ICA has exclusive right for "all aspects of marketing the products, future releases of new products, access to VMC resources and use of VMC as a reference site." Now, ICA CEO Gary Zegiestowsky (at left) is stepping-up promotion of the company's ties to Vanderbilt -- in the process, illuminating a board of directors that includes entrepreneur, investor and VUMC Vice Chancellor Harry Jacobson; VUMC Informatics Center Director and Associate Vice Chancellor Bill Stead; and, among others, Voyent Partners founder and former ENVOY CEO Fred Goad. In a release published yesterday in the wake of U.S. News & World Report's latest hospital "Honor Roll," in which VUMC ranked 15th overall, Jacobson says, “Our [VUMC's] performance in all categories—most importantly in our efficiency of operation and our ability to drive out variability of practice—has been heavily dependent on leveraging the tools ICA provides.” In a recent review of VUMC strategic priorities, Jacobson cited ICA's strategic role. ICA. originally named Star Technologies, is considered one of Nashville's best hopes for becoming "The Silicon Valley of Healthcare."

Road Warrior: Cisco's Man in Nashville

Cisco Systems, which last year earned over $1 billion in the healthcare sector, alone, has more than 100 employees in Tennessee, including a batch of developers over in Knoxville. Brentwood-based Frank Grant (at left), who's been with Cisco 9 years (after tours with IBM, Hitachi and others) is the playmaker for much of Cisco's healthcare IT and related business in the U.S. and Canada. It's a role that gives Grant an extraordinary view of the healthcare landscape. It's also a job that keeps him on the road more than 70 percent of the time, closing deals, consulting with customers and developing Cisco's "thought leader" relationships with influentials. He's not alone among the road warriors who base here in Nashville, while serving the rest of the world. More on that, in this story.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

VC Update: Nashville

During a recent M&A conference here, Atlanta-based VC Allen Moseley (left), his tongue planted firmly in cheek, reminded Nashville entrepreneurs they don't need to go to the coasts for capital, because Noro-Moseley is only 3.5 hours away, down Interstate 24. That conference hit a number of nerves here, and prompted VNC to step-up further our efforts to learn more about Nashville VCs' perspectives, the first instalment of which now appears on the VNC website. Readers may also find it useful to read recently installed Noro-Moseley General Partner Greg Foster's views on what he sees as a big opportunity for digital-media startups in the Southeast, even though his take on it, inevitably, seems Atlanta-centric. Meanwhile, for more on our chat with local execs with Petra Capital, Council Ventures and Solidus, please read more here.

Friday, July 25, 2008

NTC uses Human Capital to seek Costantine successor

Since posting our earlier story about NTC President Jeff Costantine's planned retirement, we've learned that Steve Hayes (at left) of Brentwood-based The Human Capital Group is leading the search for the fourth NTC president. Worth noting are THCG's website promises that they deliver finalists within 20 days of getting the assignment, and that they look for candidates who will stay aboard for the long haul. Speed-on-tap notwithstanding, we're hearing NTC has given THCG two months to search, with interviews beginning after Labor Day, aiming to have the new president shadow Costantine for a month, before taking over Jan. 1, 2009. THCG has offices in Georgia, Florida and Ohio, as well as here. Our call this morning to NTC Chair Beth Chase, who owns C-3 Consulting, has not yet been returned. Hayes office indicated he is traveling. Our earlier story's here.

On-demand player hits pause button

For someone still in his early 40s, Alton Minton (at left) of Hendersonville has had a goodly share of bad press, deserved or not. First, it was around allegations he sold shares in airplanes FractionAir didn't own. Now, his is in disputes with one or more web-presence developers and at least one ally believes Minton's 'gone under'. Minton assured VNC yesterday iNowTV is alive and kicking, and that he'll have his site up within six weeks. Meanwhile, am I the only person in North America who isn't trying to launch a video on-demand service? Wassup with this? The latest on Minton's venture, here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Nashville's hospitalist secret is out

'Don't remember for sure, but the first time I heard someone refer to the hospitalist specialty as the 'fastest-growing segment' in medical history, I was probably tempted to file that factoid in the hyperbole bin. However, eventually I looked into the numbers -- including hospitalist-centered Cogent Healthcare's 35 percent compound annual growth rate. At that point, earlier blurry events came back into focus: There was, for example, Cogent's move to Nashville from Irvine, Calif., 15 months ago. And, earlier this year, there was the hospitalist industry's first IPO -- for LA-based IPC The Hospitalist Company. That offering had set VC radars a'whirring, here and elsewhere. Paradoxically, though, it's the relative quiet around "hospitalists" here in town that has caught my attention. It's the kind of quiet that surrounds a business concept that has been deeply accepted. Is the so-called hospitalist trend in fact fait accompli, and we're just waiting Big Money to book its flight to BNA? We'll see. Meanwhile, what do you think? Here's the story.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rockin' your customers' worlds

Belmont University Center for Entrepreneurship Director Jeff Cornwall is bringing Minneapolis-based Reside LLC CEO Matt Meents (right) to campus this fall to share his wisdom and ideas for helping Belmont students' nascent businesses. Meents co-founded Reside nearly 8 years ago, and the company now has about 35 employees (and is looking for four more "good people" right away). Reside cranks about $2.5 million in annual revenue, by using the Web 'to grow businesses and solve problems'. In an interview yesterday, Meents told VNC he places tremendous emphasis on creating a "rockin'" corporate culture that creates "harmony and energy" for clients, employees and the community. Toward such ends, the company created a virtual band -- the Residers -- and now uses the digital entertainers to raise money for local charities. Some band members -- like Maverick (at left) -- embody the personalities of co-founders Meents and Eric Scheel, while other players correspond to different Reside departments. The "Rockin'" cultural banner is extended to such things as naming the firm's conference rooms (Main Stage, Green Room, etc.). Meents, now 32, was once a student of Cornwall's at St. Thomas University in St. Paul and Cornwall has been his mentor, since then.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Noog Uber Alles

The news of Volkswagen's selection of Tennessee for assembly of its new midsize vehicle is stunning, possibly epochal -- even though Middle Tennessee's economic benefit, if any, may be years away. Locally, in nearby Montgomery County, Clarksville Industrial Development Board Executive Director Mike Evans was diplomatic this morning when contacted by VNC. His megasite was barely in-the-running against Chattanooga, Alabama and Michigan. Still, while declining any comment on efforts Clarksville might have made with regard to VW, Evans offered congratulations to the state and Chattanooga, and said the news demonstrates the "validity of the TVA megasite [certification] program." He also stressed that "regionalism" is the proper context in which to view Chattanooga's win. Indeed, some reports suggest that in addition to the 2,000 jobs created in Chattanooga, another 10,000 could be spawned in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. The win announced yesterday should also provide fresh impetus -- as though it needed any -- to the Tennessee Valley Corridor initiative, which seeks to improve jobs, skills and quality of life in the zone from Knoxville-Oak Ridge...through Tullhoma, Murfreesboro and Chattanooga, to Huntsville. The TVC effort includes, by the way, most East Tennessee members of Congress, but currently excludes U.S. Reps. Bart Gordon of Murfreesboro, who chairs the House science committee. Periodically, there has been talk within TVC of correcting what some see as an "oversight," a gap that in some ways leaves Nashville standing outside the TVC tent. As previously reported here, Rutherford County leaders have during the past two years sought to hitch that county's prospects more closely to the corridor. Earlier, related item here.

Cisco I-Prize contest workable in Nashville

David Hsieh (left), the Cisco marketing exec who led the year-long I-Prize competition in winners get cash and jobs in a new Cisco venture, told VNC in an interview last week that he'd welcome a chance to make another trip to Nashville to talk about lessons learned during the I-Prize process, which attracted 1,200 ideas. He said he thinks a city like Nashville couple replicate the I-Prize process, capture entrepreneurial energies and perhaps spawn a new venture or two. Read more about it here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Nashville heats up?

Right now, it seems unlikely the institutional and informal meetup layers of Nashville's Technology community will co-mingle. Odds are good, for instance, that if you go to the July 31 breakfast of Nashville Geeks, you won't also be attending the Nashville Technology Council's Aug. 7 roundtable on data management for business intelligence -- okay, unless maybe your name is Dave Delaney, the guy who's apparently involved in everything digital in town. Well, maybe we all need to get out a little more. Check out this report on Digital Nashville, and co-founder Skip Franklin, who's also SVP at PassAlong Networks.