Member and Industry News

February 22, 2011

New Investment Partnership Will Help Early Stage Entrepreneurs

New Investment Partnership Will Help Early Stage Entrepreneurs
by Nashville Entrepreneur Center | Feb 22, 2011

NASHVILLE – The Nashville Entrepreneur Center and the partners of Clayton Associates would like to announce the launch of a new investment partnership designed to help entrepreneurs grow fresh ideas into thriving businesses.  The new partnership started by Nashville businessmen and Clayton Associates partners, John Ingram and Stuart McWhorter, will be called Bullpen Ventures.

The initial investment in Bullpen Ventures, which will operate out of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, will help incubate up to a dozen startups this year through seed stage investments.  “This strategy is designed to take a business plan and within 90 days turn the concept into an investable business venture,” said Stuart McWhorter, President of Clayton Associates and Co-Founder of Bullpen Ventures.

“We are so pleased to have this partnership commitment between Clayton Associates and the Entrepreneur Center,” said Michael Burcham, the CEO of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center.  “The Ingram and McWhorter Families have played such a significant role in shaping the entrepreneurial landscape of Nashville.  This new partnership is an important part of our entrepreneurial ecosystem – helping us to support the next generation of Nashville’s entrepreneurs and promote economic growth for our region.”

Although Bullpen Ventures is a new endeavor, the idea was developed nearly 15 years ago with the establishment of Clayton Associates. Clayton Associates’ early focus was to support entrepreneurs through an incubator model called the “Bullpen” that encouraged mentorship, creativity, and sound business principles.  Through this model, many successful companies were created, such as LifeTrust America, Harpeth Capital, Censis Technologies, Gordian Health Solutions, and Medical Reimbursements of America.  In addition to the “Bullpen” model, Clayton Associates also founded and provided the seed capital of other notable businesses such as Psychiatric Solutions and Iasis Healthcare.

Over time, the success of the “Bullpen” model led to more individuals wanting to invest capital in these early stage companies, which ultimately led to Clayton Associates forming its FCA Venture Partner Funds.

Clayton Associates continues to focus on early and growth stage venture capital investing, but its partners saw a gap in the investment community and a continued need to support entrepreneurs.

“With the establishment of The Nashville Entrepreneur Center and this partnership with Bullpen Ventures, we hope to be able to help fill that gap,” said McWhorter.  “Additionally, as a way to show our commitment to the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, a portion of the proceeds from any successful endeavor will go to help sustain the Center.”

“This announcement is hopefully but the first of many of these types of partnerships,” said Ralph Schulz, the President and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.  “Our goal is for Nashville to be the best place in the country to start a new business, and the Nashville Entrepreneur Center is a vital part of our effort.”

As a result of Bullpen Ventures, Clayton Associates now has the ability to help entrepreneurs from the seed stage through the growth stage.

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