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Contributed photography / Lindsey Cox is the new CEO of CO.LAB.

For the CEO of the Company Lab, her new job leading the organization at the hub of Chattanooga's startup ecosystem has offered something of a "soft landing," Lindsey Cox says.

Because of her years of work at Launch Tennessee, and in economic development in Washington, D.C., Cox knows many of the players in the landscape of entrepreneurship in and around the Scenic City, she says.

"It's also been really nice to see all the new people coming to Chattanooga," Cox says. "The city has become a real attractor of talent."

Cox began her job at CO.LAB in April, and has started reorganizing the structure of the nonprofit entity dedicated to nurturing entrepreneurship and supporting startups as they scale. In addition to a new CEO, CO.LAB has a new director of communications, and will soon hire a new program director. In addition, roles are shifting internally to dedicate more resources to operations and community engagement, Cox says.

The city has a great network of collaborative organizations to help entrepreneurs, and CO.LAB's sweet spot is supporting early stage companies that have the potential to scale, Cox says.

"We have to get really good at what we do," she says. "Capital is going to be a big focus. Capital is the major component we're missing."

Lindsey Cox

* Role: CEO of the Company Lab (CO.LAB)

* Age: 34

* Hometown: Born in Kansas, but has lived in Tennessee since middle school.

* Family: Cox and her husband have two dogs and three cats.

* Fun fact: Cox and her husband met in an elevator at work and were married 10 months later.


Attracting venture capital is one piece of that — but only one, she adds.

"We know [venture capital] is not the right capital for everybody, but it's part of it," she says.

She was born in Kansas, but Cox's family is from Livingston, Tennessee, about 30 miles north of Cookeville. Cox moved to Tennessee in middle school, and eventually earned an undergraduate degree in accounting and a master's of business administration from Tennessee Tech.

Cox then headed for Nashville, where she worked in the Comptroller's office in budget and finance, sparking her interest in economic development work.

"I got all this exposure to high-profile state initiatives," she says.

After her stint in the Comptroller's Office, she moved to Launch Tennessee, where she fell in love with the world of economic development, and spent more than seven years working to support startups. After Launch Tennessee, she moved to Washington, D.C., spending two years with the U.S. Economic Development Administration's Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

"We always knew D.C. was a temporary thing," Cox says. "It was crazy expensive."

She and her husband couldn't afford to buy a home, and they are "nesters," Cox says. Now they've bought a house in Highland Park, and settled in with their three cats and two dogs. "Not owning a house is hard for me," she says.