Nashville Moment: Beth Chase
Chair-Elect of Nashville's Entrepreneur Center.
Written By: Margaret Littman
Photographers: Shannon Fontaine
Beth Chase, Chair-Elect
When Beth Chase started c3/consulting in 2005, she thought she would have “a little five-person firm.” That quickly turned into a Berry Hill–based business that currently employs 125 people and consults for Fortune 1000 firms across the globe. And with that growth, Chase has become one of the city's leading entrepreneurial thinkers.
A founder of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, Chase been on the board for four years and, as a result, helped the EC raise Nashville’s startup street cred. This month, she added another title to her jam-packed résumé: chair-elect. In this volunteer position, she’ll help the EC achieve its ambitious six-part strategic growth plan. In 2017, she’ll become chair, working with president and CEO Stuart McWhorter to expand the place that she says gives “creative confidence” to entrepreneurs in Music City.
“I used to think I wasn’t very bold, but now that I’ve started two businesses, I realize I have an opportunity to help other women entrepreneurs,” Chase says.
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Entrepreneur City: “The Entrepreneur Center has had a critical role in elevating Nashville’s brand as a creative place to live, work, and grow your business. It goes right back to our heritage as a very entrepreneurial town,” says Chase, who first came to Nashville to play competitive tennis at Vanderbilt three decades ago. Now the Kentucky native considers the city home. She calls the HCAs and the Ingrams “Nashville’s original entrepreneurs” and enjoys seeing the EC help second, third, and fourth generations.
Money Talks: Since 2010, the EC has helped companies that have gone through its programs raise more than $86 million in capital. Now, Chase says, it’s time for the EC to raise some funds of its own and follow the advice it gives others about becoming self-sustaining. “In order to really be successful with an entrepreneurial business, you need money, and we don't have enough across our capital continuum," she adds.
Gender Gap: While 60 percent of c3’s workforce is female, the EC has had a male-centric reputation. Under McWhorter’s tenure, the number of female employees has increased, and the center’s strategic plan involves filling the pipeline with a diversity of ideas—including from more women. In general, female entrepreneurs borrow less money for their businesses and are less bold but tend to be successful when they do hang out their own shingle. “I used to think I wasn’t very bold, but now that I’ve started two businesses, I realize I have an opportunity to help other women entrepreneurs,” Chase says.
Family Business: Chase’s father, mother, brother, and grandfather all started businesses, so entrepreneurship is in her blood. What makes her crush it on the job? “I’m always thinking about what’s next and never sitting still,” she explains. “It is really important not to get comfortable with where you are.”