GrowthX is Ready to Build the Silicon Valley of the South
By Justin Stokes
In the world of business, it’s easy for anyone to say, “If I just had more money, I could buy my way out of my problems.”
Such are the fantasies of a person not ready to fully pursue innovation. Sure, they might have a great startup idea and a great pitch. But at the end of the day, how often are those without extra cashflow able to solve a problem with only creative thinking and the right support system?
Chewing on that idea—that people in Silicon Valley were able to start businesses in their garage—leads one to appreciate the power of business execution in solving an issue. Helping people apply that mindset to running a business is what seed-stage venture capital company GrowthX wants to do for Nashville.
“We have two core beliefs,” cofounder Andrew Goldner says of the company. “One, that products don’t create value, customers do. And so we have a very strong hypothesis that there are a significant number of product-focused founders out there that are building products that seem interesting, but don’t necessarily solve a market need. And that’s why they’re failing.
“The other core belief […] is pretty much related to that market-need hypothesis. That founders should be closer to their customers and not their capitalists. If you think about the history so far of venture capital—from Hewlett Packard to today—the predominance is in Silicon Valley. So the founders in Nashville and in other locations are picking up and moving from their friends and their family in a relatively low-cost space of their homes—and often times in proximity to their customers—in order to be close to their capitalists.”
Per Goldner, it’s rare that companies fail because products don’t work. Instead, he chalks the business/product failure up to a failure to solve a market need. Solving that need, then, means being present in the “startup ecosystem,” and giving other regions a chance at producing the next big crop of tech companies.
— GrowthX Academy (@GXAcademy) September 29, 2016
He states that because it was once vital for startups to be near a jet propulsion laboratory or a technologist coming out of U.C. Berkeley, this trend made sense.
But as tech has gotten cheaper and more accessible, those needs of proximity are no longer driving forces that should deify the capitalist or technologist. The need for coders to create apps and software gave rise to programs, “boot camps” and other ways to develop skills, which made talent more easily available.
Today, founders can build products, technologies and companies that seem interesting to them, but they often lack the discipline to know what consumers desire.
GrowthX does more than just giving a business operator the capital he or she needs to get started. The program actually consists of multiple parts, including a 12–week business cohort in San Francisco, a boutique innovation advisory firm that facilitates culture changes within a company and the Market Acceleration Program. All of these pieces move as one machine designed to help companies.
Helping companies that are able to offer a great product or service funneled toward consumer desires is exactly what Goldner looks for in Tennessee. “We’re still looking to invest in a company in Nashville,” Goldner says. “We’ve got two companies out of Chattanooga. We’ve got a company in Memphis. I’ve got some companies that I’m looking at in Nashville that I like quite a bit.”
Feel like your business might benefit from the “Capital. Talent. Know How” offered by GrowthX? Stop by their digital doorstep and give ‘em a ring.