Margaret Dolan of Launch Tennessee

How investors are paying more attention to female leadership

Margaret Dolan is President and CEO of Launch Tennessee (LaunchTN). Established in 2011, LaunchTN is a public-private partnership that supports entrepreneurs from ideation to exit and is guided by a vision of making Tennessee the most startup-friendly state in the nation. Margaret has an extensive – and quite impressive – background in financial, executive, and civic experience, including numerous awards for her achievements.

Note: At the time of this posting, Margaret has announced she is preparing to leave LaunchTN at the end of June to take on a leadership role at a venture focused on socially and environmentally responsible investing. Van Tucker, COO of LaunchTN, will take over the role on an interim basis.

What should we know about Margaret?

Margaret began her career as a CPA. But her varied career in accounting, philanthropy, consulting and her experience bringing the first city-based exchange-traded fund to market made her the perfect choice for LaunchTN. Her civic involvement is extensive. Ms. Dolan currently serves on the governing boards of the Nashville Business Coalition and United Way of Metropolitan Nashville (past Chair).  She concluded her work as a member of the Fifth Third Bank Tennessee Board in late 2017. In addition, Ms. Dolan is engaged with the International Women’s Forum, Nashville’s Agenda Steering Committee, Rotary Club of Nashville (past President), and the Board & CEO Advisory Council for United Way Worldwide. She is a Sustaining Member of the Junior League of Nashville and a graduate of Leadership Nashville.

How does LaunchTN engage in supporting start-ups and entrepreneurship across the state of Tennessee?

Entrepreneurs can access curriculum, mentorship, co-working space, early-stage capital, and more through the LaunchTN network of Entrepreneur Centers and partner organizations, located across Tennessee.  The LaunchTN partners include CO.LAB (Chattanooga), The Biz Foundry (Cookeville), theCO (Jackson), Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (Knoxville), Life Science Tennessee, Epicenter (Memphis), Start Co. (Memphis), Nashville Entrepreneur Center (Nashville), Bunker Labs (Nashville), Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council, and Sync Space (TriCities).

LaunchTN offers virtual learning classes for those interested in entrepreneurial career in Tennessee. Additionally LaunchTN hosts the annual 36|86 Festival to provide connection between innovators, pioneers, investors and visionaries.

How is LaunchTN participating in the Covid-19 recovery?

LaunchTN announced a new partnership with Tennessee’s COVID-19 Unified Command.  A vendor registry was created to engage companies, including entrepreneurs and startups, to rapidly connect solutions, resources, and capabilities to major issues facing our state. Launched March 30, the registry quickly amassed a large base of businesses willing to help the state navigate the Covid-19 situation. The partnership will help connect business with entrepreneurs who will aid in the economic recovery.

According to the most recent State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, there are more female entrepreneurs in the U.S. than ever before, but they still comprise less than half of all businesses overall. Why are we seeing such growth in women entrepreneurs?

There is so much data that proves the value of how women think about things and how they solve problems, sequence tasks and organize tasks and keep things going. Women historically have not been given opportunity to be in front of investors so it has not caught up yet but moving in the right direction.

HasLaunch TN experienced a female entrepreneur success story?

We are very proud of the success of Shani Dowell’s company Possip. Last year after competing against eight startups, the ed-tech company took both the $10,000 crowd favorite award and the main prize of $50,000 at the 36|86 Entrepreneur Festival Pitch Competition. The impact fund investment committee provided additional funds making Dowell the first African American female founder who has won more than a million dollars in outside capital.

What are the plans for this year’s 36|86 Festival?

At the time of our interview, the plans for 36|86 occurring in person or virtual were still being determined. Since that time the event has been announced as a virtual event to be held August 17-28, 2020, described as a global interactive digital experience.

The 10-day event brings together innovators, pioneers, investors and visionaries to shape the future of business. The stage reflects the attendees with diverse perspectives, race and gender, making the event even richer.

Resources and Links

Margaret Dolan  on LinkedIn

Launch Tennessee:

36|86 Festival