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Vanderbilt Business Hosts Greater Nashville Venture Capital Association Kickoff Event

Nov 17, 2023
The Greater Nashville Venture Capital Association launches, uniting forces for Middle Tennessee startups and unveiling a new era in the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem

By Lacie Blankenship

On Monday, November 13, Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management helped set the stage for a startup renaissance in Middle Tennessee by hosting the emerging Greater Nashville Venture Capital Association’s inaugural event.

Tom Steenburgh, Ralph Owen Dean, Vanderbilt Business, delivered opening remarks at the event, notably declaring his commitment to the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and his unwavering interest in connecting the school deeper into the Nashville business community. Steenburgh introduced Bruce Evans, Chairman of the Board of the Trust, Vanderbilt University, Founder and President, Evans Capital, Senior Advisor, Summit Partners, Interim Chair, Greater Nashville Venture Capital Association (GNVCA). At the event, Evans spoke alongside Stuart McWhorter, Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner.

Pictured: Tom Steenburgh (left), Bruce Evans (middle), Stuart McWhorter (right) at the Greater Nashville Venture Capital Association kickoff event hosted by Vanderbilt Business.

Tom Steenburgh (left), Bruce Evans (middle), and Stuart McWhorter (right) at the kickoff event. Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt Center for Technology Transfer & Commercialization (CTTC).

Steenburgh, Evans, and McWhorter noted a regional need to optimize opportunities for Nashville venture capitalists, nodding to Tennessee’s “business-friendly” nature. The emergence of the GNVCA directly and intentionally answers this call. Evans illustrated the inception of the GNVCA with statements that the organization will attract venture capitalists to the region by “hanging an open for business sign.” 

The event was invite-only, and the speakers shared pertinent details about the organization while attendees enjoyed drinks and hors d’oeuvres. The speaking segment of the evening concluded with time allotted for attendees to ask questions before transitioning to an intimate social hour. Attendees left the GNVCA kickoff event with a clearer picture of the organization’s founding. Read below for more information on the GNVCA and Vanderbilt’s role in the organization. 

What is the Greater Nashville Venture Capital Association? 

The Greater Nashville Venture Capital Association, GNVCA, is a membership-based organization dedicated to establishing Middle Tennessee as a premier destination for launching, nurturing, and investing in companies. GNVCA members include various Nashville investors from pre-seed to growth equity, like venture capitalists, angel investors, private capital offices, and corporate venture partners. 

What is the purpose of the Greater Nashville Venture Capital Association? 

The GNVCA is a newly registered Tennessee nonprofit 501(c)(6) that aims to expand access to capital and talent by uniting local venture capital and angel investors. The organization empowers visionary entrepreneurs, fosters growth to generate employment opportunities, and drives overall regional economic prosperity in Middle Tennessee. 

How is the Greater Nashville Venture Capital Association planning to fulfill its mission?

The GNVCA’s website states that the organization will accomplish its goal by: 

  • Helping recruit venture capital to Middle Tennessee;
  • Organizing and uniting the local investor and entrepreneurial community through networking events, newsletters, and other communications; 
  • Sourcing investment opportunities for members; 
  • Developing regional reports on venture capital and new venture data; 
  • Supporting regional professional development, educational programs, and investment competitions. 
Pictured: While Bruce Evans speaks on a stage, a crowd of Greater Nashville Venture Capital Association kickoff event attendees listens carefully.

Bruce Evans speaking to the event attendees. Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt CTTC.

Who is helping found this organization?

Vanderbilt University is providing a 3-year seed grant to start the organization. In the first year, Vanderbilt will cover all operating costs; in years to follow, Vanderbilt will provide portions of operating expenses until the grant expires, when GNVCA will operate independently from Vanderbilt.

Who is on the Initial Interim Board? 

Chair: Bruce Evans, Chairman of the Board of the Trust, Vanderbilt University, Founder and President, Evans Capital, Senior Advisor, Summit Partners,

Anders Hall, Vice Chancellor for Investments and Chief Investment Officer, Vanderbilt University

Padma Raghavan, Vice Provost for Research and Innovation, Senior Advisor to the Chancellor, Distinguished Professor of Computer Science, Vanderbilt University

Hunter Hillenmeyer, Investment Partner, Company Ventures, Venture Partner for Next Legacy Partners  

Marcus Whitney, Jumpstart Health Investors Co-Founder and Partner 

What are the next steps in founding the organization?

The initial board will spearhead founding tasks such as drafting bylaws, recruiting a director, organizing a board election, etc. Charter members will elect the first official board of directors to establish membership rates, determine who is eligible to join, and more. 

How can I get involved?

Venture capitalists, family offices, and active angel investors interested in being charter members should contact the GNVCA via email ( by mid-January to join in founding the organization. Since Vanderbilt University is covering initial costs, there are no dues for the organization’s first year.

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