Mike Bradshaw was named Entrepreneur in Residence at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga in July. In his article, the 67-year-old native of Virginia says he plans to devote much of his attention to remembering the individual entrepreneur.
While Chattanooga has been very successful in the startup arena in recent years, recognizing this person as “the most valuable asset you have in a community,” he says, is critical.
“I saw it with my own eyes,” says Bradshaw, who is a long-time entrepreneur and businessman who came to Chattanooga in 2003. He then ran Chattanooga’s entrepreneurial center, The Company Lab ( CO.LAB), where he was Executive Director from 2013 to 2016.
Bradshaw says it’s hard to know who will win or lose, who will adapt and stay.
“It’s an uplifting tale to serve the larger 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 stake in the outcome would help because they admire the aspirant,” he says. “They know that a little success with individual aspirants adds up to a big economic impact.”
Bradshaw was born and raised in Middleburg, Virginia, outside of Washington, DC. He left an engineering school to enter the restaurant business, later starting a few restaurants and selling in 1990.
He then embarked on CD-ROM publishing and joined The Learning Co., led by Kevin O’Leary, the current star of “Shark Tank”.
“I really had a front row seat,” says Bradshaw, learning the basics of project finance in a large corporate environment. “It was a life changing experience.”
The company was later acquired by Mattel, which Bradshaw said was a difficult acquisition for that company.
“I learned a lot from this,” he says.
During this time, Bradshaw attended Georgetown University, where he graduated at age 40 with a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies – Science and Information.
Bradshaw was working for a company in Boston about two decades ago when asked to set up a division in Knoxville, which brought him to Tennessee. He later came to Chattanooga as part of a Marion County business and he and his wife decided to stay.
He was also director of the Jensen Hughes Academy, a knowledge sharing and technical training services company, for many years.
Bradshaw received his MBA from UTC in 2007.
“We pretend that we will never move. We will see what happens,” he says.