Entrepreneurship can be a lonely endeavor… until you find a vibrant and supportive community like the one we’re building in the Appalachian Highlands


We host and sponsor impactful programming that helps drive Startups forward while providing the opportunity for Startups to share their own experiences


We provide coaching, workshops, advisor matching, and 1-on-1 business coaching without cost to your Startup. We do this to grow Entrepreneurship in our region.

Last Year was a Big Year for Startups

We have seen some incredible growth in our Startup ecosystem and we see future opportunities for our region to seize. The future is very bright for anyone turning their ideas into businesses and we can’t wait to help Founders in 2024.

This Year’s Report Covers:

  • Startup Ecosystem Growth
  • The Startup Mountain Summit
  • Highlights of the Community
  • Our Vision for 2024


Startup, Pivot, Scale is a podcast that provides the real story behind entrepreneurial life in the Southeastern US. In each episode, you will hear from current founders, investors, ecosystem builders, and others who share a strong passion for startups.

Entrepreneurship is What We Do

FoundersForge is Founded and Run by Entrepreneurs
We understand the challenges you are facing because we are underdog Entrepreneurs just like you. Entrepreneurs like your are proving that Startups succeed beyond the West coast. That innovation and creativity are in our DNA and the future of our region will grow with your success.

We believe that by building a vibrant and supportive Entrepreneurial ecosystem through community cultivation, high-impact programming, and supportive resources our region will reach achieve new levels of success as well as stability. 

FoundersForge Believes Strong Startup Ecosystems are Built on Values

We Are Open to Everyone
When the Startup ecosystem is open to everyone, a diverse group of individuals create unique solutions to the worlds toughest problems. Our region will only thrive through diversity, inclusion, and keeping an open mind to others.

Give Before You Get
This is a central value to our entire Ecosystem. When Startups, supporting organizations, and the local community give before they get, something special happens. An entire culture of support is created that accelerates our ecosystem. Giving is simple. Share your ideas, give honest and direct feedback, and offer to help in anyway you can. It’s not all about the $ but it is all about thinking of others before you focus on your own gains.

No Bad Ideas
We’ve all heard some crazy ideas! And now we jump in cars with strangers and we stay in their spare bedrooms. Leave the judgement behind and ask honest, direct, and challenging questions to help each other evolve toward success. We will never shut down an idea. 

Success with Validation
In a room full of Entrepreneurs sharing their ideas, it’s incredibly rare that anyone attempts to steal other’s ideas. This is because we all believe we are already building the next great Startup! But this mindset can blind us from the obvious disasters in front of us. Be believe in validating our ideas and using data to verify our ideas and thoughts.

Fail or Succeed Fast
The worst thing a Startup Founder can do is plateau or stall in their venture without taking action. By taking early action, Startups can succeed through many failures or pivot to success even when it seems the cards are stacked against you.

Have Fun
Launching, scaling, and succeeding in Entrepreneurship is extremely difficult. The roller coaster of emotion that Founders go through can be detrimental if we don’t celebrate the successful moments and failures of our community. You should look back at this great adventure and remember the good times; not just the bad.


Our Services are Always Free
We never take equity or charge for our support and services. Your resources need to be focused on growing your venture. FoundersForge is funded by grants, regional supporters, sponsors, and volunteers from our ecosystem to operate and provide world class support to our Entrepreneurial community.

When our Startups support each other, and #GiveFirst, our region thrives.
We look forward to joining you on your Startup Journey!

Launch and Scale Your Startup

You are not alone in the Appalachian Highlands.
Startup Founders, just like you, are here and ready to help you succeed.

FoundersForge helps Startups validate their ideas, evolve their companies, and grow their Startups through community, high-impact programming, and creative spaces built for Entrepreneurs like you.

It’s All About Community

The best source of honest feedback on ideas, products, and businesses comes from other Startups just like you. That is why FoundersForge is focused on building a strong and healthy Startup Ecosystem to help you thrive.

But the community needs you. Just getting started? Perfect!
It’s time to get connected to your local Entrepreneurship ecosystem.


Our High-Impact Events

Our programs and events are built to connect you to the regional Startup community and to provide answers to your most pressing questions. You can also see all upcoming events on Our Regional Event Calendar

Startup Bootcamp

Launch Your Startup in 9 Weeks and Have a Plan for Success
Startup Bootcamp is a 9-week, intensive program that helps take ideas and existing Startups from concept to reality. We heavily focus on validation, customer discovery, and proving your ideas will be successful. Then we teach you how to evolve your Startup to achieve success.

The next Startup Bootcamp begins in Fall 2021!

Pitches and Pints

Pitch Your Ideas in 5 Minutes or Less to Win Cash Prizes
Pitches and Pints is the region’s largest open “shark tank”-like pitch competition. At the event, companies pitch their ideas to the audience and to a panel of judges for a chance to win cash prizes and supportive services provided by the region. We also hold a monthly minute-to-win-it Pitches and Pints session for networking and feedback purposes.
Find Upcoming Events >

Founders Meetup

Startups Helping Startups Tackle the Biggest Issues
Founders Meetup is all about bringing Startup Founders, aspiring Entrepreneurs, and those curious about starting a new venture together to share ideas while learning from each other. Some sessions have guest speakers and others have a topic of discussion that’s full of real-world, actionable, advice that you can use. Each meetup provides opportunities to learn and interact with Startup Founders as well as the chance to share your own experiences.
Find Upcoming Meetups >

TriDEV Meetup

Software Developers and Technologists Getting Together
TriDev is the largest developer community in our region with over 280 members. With talks ranging from web development to VR and IoT. You’re sure to find something you are interested in. If you’re an industry veteran, new programmer or looking for your next technical Co-Founder, you’ll be in good company at TriDev. Learn More >

Find Upcoming Events on Our Regional Events Calendar

“At the time I started ActionVFX, I was not well-connected to the local startup community. I recognized the need to have a better-connected community, particularly for tech companies. This is a great area to start a business, and FoundersForge will only make it better.”

– Rodolphe Pierre-Louis, CEO, ActionVFX

“When I made the decision to move back home to East TN to launch my new tech start-up rpl., I was hesitant. I had in my mind that to be successful you had to be in some major city.

Needless to say, I was very wrong. FoundersForge has brought everything Entrepreneurs need in order to succeed right here to our beautiful region.

They are proving that your geographic location is not the factor for success. It’s the community you surround yourself with. I am thankful for the FF community & all they have done to help me on this journey so far. And I have a feeling that the best is yet to come.”

– Lauren Glass, Founder, rpl.


It begins with an idea. A simple spark. Then your life changes for ever. Our region's Entrepreneurs are working hard every day to change our community and the world around them. Now it's your turn.

Partners & Supporters

Have a Passion for Entrepreneurship and Local Startups? 
Help Our Region Grow. Become a Supporter!