About Bullpen Ventures

As a result of the commitment and focus from the private sector, the Chamber of Commerce, the Mayor’s Office, and the State over the past several years, there is an incredible excitement and focus around entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial community in Nashville.  Today, a group of successful entrepreneurs are doubling down on that commitment.  Late last year, Stuart McWhorter and John Ingram started talking about rekindling a flame that was originally lit 15 years ago inside Clayton Associates.  The company had a bullpen dedicated to nurturing young, aspiring entrepreneurs giving them tools, access and advice as well as a place to “be” and belong.

In February of this year, Stuart and John announced the formation of Bullpen Ventures, to reignite some of the spirit that Clayton McWhorter created in the bullpen - a kind of spirit you see everywhere you turn at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center. Soon after the announcement, several of us began a discussion around adding other investors into the mix, both for their passion around entrepreneurship in the city and their domain experience.  Adding additional skill sets, personal rolodexes and deal flow to Bullpen Ventures seemed like a good idea; and after a bit of back and forth, we had a deal to expand the partnership.  At that point Steve Turner, Mark Montgomery and Joe Galante added their passion, experience and dollars to the partnership.  They agreed that it was not only a great business opportunity, but a way to give back to Nashville, and add more fuel to the fire that is entrepreneurship in our city.

A few details about the Partnership:

  • Bullpen Ventures makes seed stage investments targeted around the same four verticals on which the EC is focused: digital media and music, technology, healthcare, and social entrepreneurship.
  • Bullpen Ventures will do 8 to 14 deals annually, with up to $50,000 invested per deal.
  • A small management committee will make investment decisions.
  • All of the investments will be housed at the EC, and the companies will work with the tools and team that the Entrepreneur Center CEO Michael Burcham has assembled.
  • Bullpen Venture will give over 15% of the equity it receives for any investment to the EC as part of the Centers sustainability plan.

Our hope is that this venture inspires others to follow suit. Placing early stage bets is very risky (we can just call it cliff jumping if you’d like), but is not only very necessary, it can be very rewarding. And by acknowledging through giving ownership to the Entrepreneur Center how vital its role is not only in Bullpen Ventures’ investments, but in all the companies it serves inside its walls, we are setting up the city for long term success. A center like the EC, if done correctly, can have an enormous economic impact on a city-some studies indicate $50-100 million over a 5 year period.

Being willing to invest early sends a message to entrepreneurs, to the investment community, and the community at large that Nashville can be the best place in America to start your business. Nashville can become the epicenter of the new music business. Nashville can further its reputation as the Silicon Valley of not only healthcare services, but healthcare IT as well.

If you have an idea that you would like Bullpen to consider, please click here and give us some information. If you would like to start another seed stage fund, we’d be happy to tell how we put this one together --the more the merrier!

Together, the private sector, the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, the Chamber of Commerce, the Mayors office, the State, and most importantly the entrepreneurs CAN make Nashville the best place in America to start a business.


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