Local entrepreneurial center plans for growth, move to downtown
The entrepreneurial team at The Biz Foundry is preparing for growth as they sit just three months out from the Nov. 16 move-in date to their new location in downtown Cookeville.
The Biz Foundry has been helping people build companies in rural Tennessee that can be part of economic development that the region can support.
The non-profit team, comprised of two full-time and three part-time employees, have begun targeting and honing in on what they do well and are currently in the process of planning for the long term as they continue to grow and build an entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Outside of entrepreneur programs, The Biz Foundry encourages a cognitive learning environment, offering coworking space where entrepreneurs are provided mentorship, technology, and the freedom to build what they want. Technology available to participants includes 3D Printing and Scanning, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, and augmented reality technologies in the Microsoft HoloLens, as well as a new digital media studio for photography, videography and YouTube and podcast production.
“Entrepreneurs should be led by entrepreneurs, just like football coaches should’ve played a little football,” Jeff Brown, president of The Biz Foundry, said.
Arguably the most important service The Biz Foundry offers, however, is their ability to network and the connections they can make for entrepreneurs and startup founders. The team works with entrepreneurs to get the help they need by looking both inside and outside their networking group.
“We don’t catch the fish for you, we teach you how to fish,” Brown said.
In a building donated to the group by Cookeville Regional Medical Center, The Biz Foundry currently resides near Tennessee Tech’s campus – currently, there are six startups led by students enrolled at TTU – but the two establishments, TTU and The Biz Foundry, are not in any partnership.
Students, of course, are welcome to use the technology labs and resources, but like-minded individuals with big ideas outside the school are also encouraged to become a part of the technological and entrepreneurial movement.
While The Biz Foundry is beginning to see growth from all angles, they understand this is a cultural shift and know it doesn’t happen overnight.
To help push change and promote the culture of entrepreneurship, the entrepreneurial center will also be launching an entrepreneurial magazine which will feature 12 to 15 profiles that share the stories of upcoming and successful entrepreneurs, as well as those who are attempting to get started across the region.
“One question that circulates around Cookeville is how do we get young people to stay here? Well, centers like ours play a big part in that,” Brown said.
Since opening their doors in 2013, The Biz Foundry’s aim has been to obtain 1 percent of the population, and as they approach the halfway point, they are hoping that mark isn’t as farfetched as they thought this time last year.
“We are starting to have people find us and refer us – the Upper Cumberland Development District has played a big part in getting our name out there,” Brown said.
The move to downtown Cookeville is a part of the growth and change The Biz Foundry team is embracing, as they have and will continue to put in a lot of work towards introducing and pushing technology in a rural area and helping entrepreneurs start a business using technology.
“We are getting creative people in a room together, to shake hands, and share what each other are thinking and working on; and how do we help each other,” Brown said. “Which has been really tough to do.”
The Biz Foundry is currently located at 140 W 7th St. in Cookeville.