Epicenter today announced the nonprofit has raised $40 million to help entrepreneurs in the Greater Memphis region. Born out of one of the Chairman’s Circle’s original moon missions, Epicenter launched in 2015 with the goal of creating 1000 Entrepreneurs and 500 start-ups in seven years.
The funding is grounded in an initial challenge grant from FedEx. Epicenter has raised an additional $30 million from philanthropic foundations, economic development organizations and individuals. The capital will provide resources directly to entrepreneurs, pilot and scale programming and support local partners.
"We believe in supporting local entrepreneurs to ensure that the next industry-disrupting idea that's out there has the chance to grow and prosper," said Richard Smith, president and CEO of FedEx Trade Networks and the board chair of the Greater Memphis Chamber. "Strengthening the local resources entrepreneurs and small businesses need to scale is critical if we want to grow the economy in the Memphis region."
Epicenter hopes to raise $100 million as part of their 10-year strategy.
"The momentum created by the FedEx Challenge Grant has activated critical financial support from philanthropic leaders, legacy founders, and other corporate partners for local entrepreneurs through Epicenter,” said David Waddell, Chairman's Circle Member, Epicenter board chair, and president, CEO, and chief investment strategist, Waddell and Associates. “These contributions set the tone for our ambitious economic development goals and broadcasts to entrepreneurs and investors here and outside of the region that Memphis is investible.”
“Together with our partners across the region, we’re grateful to these funders, who share our vision that entrepreneurship is a viable economic development strategy to build a more vibrant, equitable, and prosperous city,” said Leslie Lynn Smith, president and CEO, Epicenter. "This milestone means that many more current and future entrepreneurs in Memphis will have greater access to what they need to launch and grow the businesses of the future, and we’re already seeing some of their success stories being told today.”
To learn more about the Chairman’s Circle’s moon missions, click here.
The Memphis region has a connected and collaborative entrepreneurship ecosystem led by Epicenter, the nonprofit hub of the greater Memphis entrepreneurial movement. Using a systems approach, Epicenter drives strategy and measures impact among a network of economic development, academic, corporate, and government partners to increase support to new and existing tech startups, creative and community-based businesses, student entrepreneurs, and others across industries and stages of growth. Epicenter and its partners connect these entrepreneurs and their innovative ideas to programming, capital, customers, and talent in order to create a just, inclusive, and growing economy that accrues to all Memphians. More information is at epicentermemphis.org.