Our 3 Key Takeaways From 36|86 Conference

This past week, the Inflammo team joined hundreds of innovative entrepreneurs, driven business leaders, and top investors at 36|86, the South’s premier tech and entrepreneurship conference located in Nashville, TN. Powered by Launch TN, 36|86 was a fantastic affair, bringing in top executives and speakers such as Steve Case: Co-Founder of AOL, Jeremy King: Walmart CTO, Fred Smith: Founder & CEO of FedEx, and Kristina Hahn: Head of Partnerships at Google.
From diversity to 3D printing to sports tech to raising capital, 36|86 covered a variety of topics that had us heads down, pencils up throughout.  For those unable to attend, we present to you three key takeaways, amongst what could be described as a bevy of options from which to choose:

Not All Capital Was Created Equal

As Steve Case articulated in the opening Fireside Chat, three states have historically received nearly 80% of all venture capital investments.  Further, nearly 90% of that same investment has gone to men.  While the underlying reasons of the aforementioned are debatable, the existing reality is not. 
The lesson here?  Focus your time on building a better business rather than getting better at fundraising. The best external financing doesn’t sit on the sidelines in the valley but instead resides with the customers you serve. 

Unlock a Key Component of Your Investable Story

Every company has an investable story, the product of a qualitative vision and quantitative model that clearly reflects where the company is going and how it’s going to get there.  A key piece to that investable story is the ability to articulate and demonstrate your company’s competitive advantage. 
Your competitive advantage helps to define not only why you are capable of achieving better outcomes than your competitors but how you can do so in a sustainable and defensible way (i.e., it goes beyond price or product features, which are both short-term advantages at best). At Inflammo, we operate under the motto “Simple. Scalable. Repeatable” in our attempt to refine our competitive advantage.
The ability to objectively identify your competitive advantage within your broader corporate strategy, and subsequently execute a business model that is well-aligned to it, will greatly impact your ability to profitably drive top-line growth, the key driver to all investable stories.

“Business is Just Math”

I won’t lie to you – I loved this quote from Fred Smith to close out the conference, and not solely because it could easily become the new marketing slogan here at Inflammo. 
To Mr. Smith’s point, business is a connected series of relationships and activities driven by and producing financial data….or simply “math”.  And while Mr. Smith emphasized the value of these numbers in operating a business, he more importantly reinforced that at the end of the day, the legacy we leave behind will be defined more by the personal values we adhere to and the relationships in which we invest. 
These four words served as a great reminder for why we initially launched Inflammo, with our underlying mission to “Be the Light” by investing our time, talents and treasures to help others in advancing theirs.  While it’s certainly easy to get sidetracked in the numbers of it all, I’m also reminded that as long as we maintain our commitment to the Inflammo mindset, the math simply becomes a byproduct, and ultimately will work itself out.