2021 Hall of Fame Inductees and Entrepreneur of 2021 for Annual NEXT Awards

Annual event, scheduled for Oct. 25, to honor Middle Tennessee entrepreneurs of the year and legends who have made an impact on the greater Nashville community

Nashville, Tenn. (Sept 29, 2021)Nashville Entrepreneur Center (NEC) has announced its Hall of Fame inductees to be honored at the annual NEXT Awards on Oct. 25. This year’s Hall of Fame class includes: 

  • Phil Bredesen: Widely known as a successful politician that demonstrated how elected officials can be extraordinary entrepreneurs, Phil Bredesen began his career in Nashville as a healthcare businessman before founding NYSE-listed HealthAmerica Corp., which he sold six years later for a half billion dollars. Bredesen went on to start other successful companies including Coventry Corporation, Qualifacts, Clinical Pharmaceuticals, Silicon Ranch and ClearLoop. He is also an author of Fresh Medicine: How to Build a Sustainable Health Care System and philanthropist who started The Land Trust of Tennessee and Nashville Table, which is now a part of Second Harvest. An inspirational leader and always a visionary, we welcome Phil Bredesen into the Hall of Fame as a prodigious entrepreneur in both the public and private sectors.   


  • Lucius Burch: Lucius E. Burch, III, chairman and CEO of Burch Investment Group based in Nashville, has had a nearly 50-year career in venture capital where he has specialized in corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, and management consulting. When you talk to many local entrepreneurs, the person who believed in them, gave them their first round of funding, who mentored them on their journey, the name Lucius Burch is often mentioned. Our community is fortunate to have such an entrepreneurial visionary in a position to make investments in founders in various industries.              


  • Leatrice McKissack: Founded in 1905, McKissack & McKissack was one of the first African American professional firms in Nashville. Leatrice McKissack took the helm of the firm in the 1980s, rising to prominence in a male-dominated industry. Ms. McKissack expanded to open three additional offices and landed multi-million dollar contracts. Today, the McKissack name lives on with Leatrice’s daughters, Cheryl McKissack Daniel, who took the reins from her mother in 2000 and serves as the current President & CEO of the family legacy business – the nation’s oldest Black-owned design and construction firm, and Deryl McKissack, leading her own architectural, engineering and construction firm of the same McKissack & McKissack namesake and continuing to pave the way for future Black architects.


  • Trisha Yearwood: Country superstar, best-selling author, chef, business owner, and television personality, Yearwood is a nonstop entrepreneur, always building her brand further and exploring new ventures. These include three bestselling cookbooks, her Emmy Award-winning Food Network series, Trisha’s Southern Kitchen, the Trisha Yearwood Pet Collection, her signature product line and dinnerware collection with Williams Sonoma, as well as furniture, home accessories and area rugs.

The Nashville Entrepreneurs’ Hall of Fame honors individuals who have built a long-standing and meaningful career in Nashville. Each honoree will be formally inducted at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center on Oct. 25 at the NEXT Awards. Previous Hall of Fame inductees include: Dolly Parton, Darrell Freeman, Kix Brooks, Cordia Harrington, and more. 

“These are some of the most accomplished legends in their industry and in our Nashville entrepreneurial community,” said Jane Allen, CEO of the NEC. “Through their drive, perseverance and vision, this year’s Hall of Famers are incredible examples who inspire the future generation of entrepreneurs in the world, and as an organization built to support Nashville for years to come, we at the EC are thrilled to honor them and their accomplishments.” 

Additionally, the NEXT Awards will honor two innovative founders across all industries with the Emerging Entrepreneur of 2021 Award (less than $1M revenue) and Entrepreneur of 2021 Award (more than $1M revenue). The finalists for the two awards include:


Entrepreneur of 2021:

Deeannah Seymour – pH-D Feminine Health

Joan Butters – XSOLIS

Silas Deane –VendEngine, Inc.

Travis Messina – Contessa


Emerging Entrepreneur of 2021:

Deanna Meador – Couture Technologies

Joshua Mundy – Pivot Technology School

Karen Williams – MinTech Agency

Luke Benda – Healing Innovations, Inc.


The evening is supported by its major sponsors Fourth Capital, EY and Lisle Parham Wealth Management. Ticket options are $250 VIP and $50 for the Balcony. To get tickets and learn more about Nashville Entrepreneur Center NEXT Awards, click here.


About Nashville Entrepreneur Center

The Nashville Entrepreneur Center (NEC) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) founded in 2010 by business leaders who wanted to support the next generation of entrepreneurs and to celebrate the spirit and tenacity of the entrepreneurial community. The NEC serves as Nashville’s center for entrepreneurship, supporting visionaries—from every background, in any industry, and at all phases—by connecting them to critical resources and championing their desire to change the world. Learn more about the NEC by following @entrecenter on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and at www.EC.co.


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