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Accelerating business success in Music City

by Jun. 17, 2010, 12:10 PM

Michael Burcham, director of the Accelerator program and president of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center

Vanderbilt Accelerator Summer Business Institute teams up with the Nashville Entrepreneur Center to create a business boot camp for music entrepreneurs

Much like the independent singer/songwriters who make Nashville the unique music mecca that it is, the future of the music business is evolving beyond monstrous media conglomerates to smaller, more nimble companies.

These small companies, led by innovative entrepreneurs, can leverage new technologies and highly creative ideas with the goal of delivering better value to fans. Not only will this benefit the music industry, it will bolster the city of Nashville itself.

But how can music entrepreneurs build a foundation for success? That’s where the Vanderbilt Accelerator Summer Business Institute comes in. The Nashville Entrepreneur Center, in partnership with Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce/Nashville Music Council, are turning to Accelerator students to develop an incubator-type program—like Accelerator— for entrepreneurs interested in the business of music.

The Accelerator Summer Business Institute is an intense month-long business boot camp run by the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management. In the program, college students and recent graduates from across the country are immersed in a competitive business environment, working to create the winning solution to real challenges from top local and national companies. The students hone essential skills in marketing, sales, finance, real estate, research and corporate strategy, while participating companies receive the brain power, creativity and proposals from eight teams of highly motivated millennials.

“The people who participate in the Accelerator program come out with business knowledge and savvy that only this type of intensely creative atmosphere can create,” said Accelerator director Michael Burcham. “A specialized version of Accelerator would be the perfect model for jumpstarting entrepreneurs tackling the music industry.”

The Nashville Entrepreneur Center project will launch on Monday, June 21, from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis offices in the Nashville City Center.

When the students arrive at 8:30 a.m., Chuck Wicks, recording artist and former Dancing with the Stars contestant, will treat the students to some of his music. Then Tim Dubois (ASCAP), Tawn Albright (formerly of Ticketmaster, currently Rockhouse Partners), Joe Kustelski (Nashville Entrepreneur Center and Rockhouse Parnters), Karen Oertley (Leadership Music), Janet Miller (Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce), and Mayor Karl Dean will give the students a presentation about Nashville and the changing needs of the music industry.

Final presentations will take place Tuesday, June 29, from 9 a.m. until noon at the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management’s Averbuch Auditorium.

Other Accelerator projects include:

  • HIMSS/ Medical Banking: HIMSS Medical Banking Project is creating a new group of thought leaders called the “G7 Roundtable”. The group will consist of healthcare providers, healthcare insurance carriers, banks, government, consumers, technology firms and employers. The group’s mission is to “design the healthcare financial network of the future.”  The Accelerator challenge is to create a marketing plan for the “G7 Roundtable” to encourage companies to sponsor or join the group and generate ways to get monetary value from the company’s cutting-edge research.
  • Lexus: Lexus has created a new hybrid vehicle that is fuel-efficient and luxurious. The Accelerator challenge is to evaluate the vehicle and its target audience and create a forward-thinking marketing plan for that audience. This is Lexus’ second time working with Accelerator students.
  • Bridgestone Americas, Incorporated: Bridgestone has worked for years to connect its brand with the best of American sporting events. The Accelerator challenge is to design a unique customer rewards program that combines these sports connections with the customer. This is Bridgestone’s second time working with Accelerator students.
  • MyWerx: MyWerx is a new Nashville-based intellectual property firm with a software product designed to simplify the intellectual property process. MyWerx mission is to not only help protect an artist’s work, but also to make it easy for people to know who owns or licenses a work. MyWerx is turning to students at the Vanderbilt Accelerator Summer Business Institute to create a viral marketing strategy to help artists learn about the MyWerx product.
  • Oasis Center: The Oasis Center works to help young people overcome serious challenges that prevent them from transitioning into a healthy adulthood. Oasis Center desires to build life skills, entrepreneurial thinking and significance within its youth population. The current brand is more reflective of a “place” – and Oasis Center is becoming more about a “movement.”  The Accelerator challenge is to create a brand concept that reflects this expanded movement; connects with young people and inspires others who would want to help Oasis Center.

For more information on Accelerator visit To follow the progress of the Accelerator students and their projects, check out Accelerator on, and search for Vanderbilt Accelerator Summer Business Institute.