SwiftWing Ventures investments:
Creative Insomniacs, Chattanooga
Dizzy Stripes, Chattanooga
FiveWOWs, Kansas City
TechTown Global, Chattanooga
SwiftWing Ventures, the Chattanooga-based venture-capital firm, has a new chief operating officer who will develop the adult-workforce arm of TechTown Global.
Patrick Mark Gusman, former president of Equal Footing Foundation, a Virginia-based nonprofit organization, joined SwiftWing on Wednesday and will focus on building nationwide partnerships for TechTown, which is one of SwiftWing's investment interests.
SwiftWing Ventures launched into the seed money scene in 2014, created by Woople founder Paul Cummings, former CBL & Associates Properties Inc. executive John Foy and Wealth Preservation Advisors President Todd Phillips. The trio also own TechTown, scheduled to open this summer in downtown Chattanooga. TechTown has a nonprofit arm aimed at children, and a for-profit arm aimed at adults.
Gusman is the founder of Startup Middle School, a pilot program to train and develop a sustainable pipeline of tech-savvy, innovative leaders, according to SwiftWing. A Louisiana native, he has a law degree from Georgetown University and a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame.
His work with SwiftWing and TechTown should tie into the city's recently announced TechHire initiative, wherein Chattanooga is one of 21 cities included in the White House-sponsored plan to increase technology education and job training.
"Our programs are designed to prepare and equip learners of all ages and abilities to actively engage the digital economy," said TechTown CEO Cordell Carter in a statement. "We are not talking only about webpage creation; we are aiming much higher. There are a half-million open technology positions, and TechTown-Workforce is looking to partner with employers to train and fill those jobs. We look forward to someone of Patrick's stature leading the workforce effort here in Chattanooga and nationally as we expand to other cities."
Gusman's hire follows the February hire of a new chief executive officer for SwiftWing: Christopher Cummings, son of Paul Cummings, one of SwiftWing's founders.
TechTown decided to expand into adult-workforce development after its team saw there was a demand for it during conversations with local leaders and businesses over the past six months, Christopher Cummings said. TechTown is actively researching various models and interviewing potential industry, community, academic and government partners for its workforce-development programs, Cummings said. Details are expected this summer.
Cummings took over as CEO in February, replacing Ben Brown, who is now advising several startup companies. Cummings said SwiftWing is "extremely grateful" for Brown's former leadership.
"With his guidance, SwiftWing invested in some great companies, and we are proud of those early investments," Cummings said. "Ultimately, Ben wanted to move on to other projects, and we wish him luck in future endeavors." Courtney Watson, who handled strategy, also left SwiftWing recently.
Despite the changes, SwiftWing's mission remains unchanged, Cummings said. "We invest in people who can make an impact in Chattanooga and beyond."
To that end, SwiftWing has invested in four Chattanooga-based startups: Creative Insomniacs, a creative/video/design agency; DevLabs42, an in-house software development company; DevStudio42, a software-development consulting firm; and Dizzy Stripes, an event-planning company. It also has invested in FiveWOWs, a business and personal concierge service in Kansas City; and Survature, an interactive survey company, based in Knoxville.
Contact staff writer Mitra Malek at email@example.com or 423-757-6406. Follow her on Twitter @MitraMalek.