Mike Bradshaw was named entrepreneur in residence at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in July. In his post, the 67-year-old Virginia native says he plans to turn much of his attention on not forgetting the individual entrepreneur.
While Chattanooga has had a lot of success in the startup space in recent years, it's key to recognize that person as "the most valuable asset you have in a community," he says.
"I've seen it firsthand," says Bradshaw, who is a longtime entrepreneur and businessman who came to Chattanooga in 2003. He later headed Chattanooga's entrepreneur center, The Company Lab (CO.LAB), where he served as executive director from 2013 to 2016.
Bradshaw says it's difficult to know who will win or lose, who will adapt and stick around.
"It's a cautionary tale to serve the very widest end of the funnel," he says.
Bradshaw says that in Chattanooga, entrepreneurs get a lot of community support around them.
"People who have no real interest in the outcome would help because they admire the aspirant," he says. "They know that a little success in individual aspirants adds up to a big economic impact."
Bradshaw was born and raised in Middleburg, Virginia, outside of Washington, D.C. He left engineering school to go into the restaurant sector, later starting some eateries and selling in 1990.
He then went into the CD-ROM publishing business and joined The Learning Co., which was headed by current "Shark Tank" star Kevin O'Leary.
"I had a real ringside seat," Bradshaw says, learning the basics of getting projects funded in a large corporate environment. "It was a life-changing experience."
Later, the company was acquired by Mattel, which Bradshaw said was a difficult acquisition for that business.
"I learned a lot from that," he says.
Meanwhile, Bradshaw attended Georgetown University, graduating at age 40 with a bachelor's degree in liberal studies - science and information.
Bradshaw was working for a business in Boston about two decades ago when he was asked to start a division in Knoxville, which brought him to Tennessee. He later came to Chattanooga in connection with a Marion County company and he and his wife decided to stay.
He also was involved as a director at Jensen Hughes Academy, a knowledge-sharing and technical training services venture, for many years.
Bradshaw earned his MBA at UTC in 2007.
"We're claiming we're never going to move. We'll see what happens," he quips.