Meet Our Entrepreneurs


A Treat for Tyler

Remember when you were a little kid and all these different creative ideas flowed through you? From make-believe games to dreams for your future, that creativity knew no limits. Sometimes, as we become adults, it can be hard to hold on to that sense of endless possibility, to look at the world as it is now and invent fun new ways to make it better.

But Tyler Davis, Academy Alumna class of Fall 2023, is doing just that – using her creativity to imagine a brand new business here in Nashville.

“I just started thinking about how nice it would be if there was a dog park/bar in my community. Because I got my dog, Ted, when I was 25, and I was still going out with friends. I thought, ‘What if I could just join these two parts of my life together?’ So I started writing up a business plan for a dog park bar!”

And spoiler alert, Treats Dog Park & Social Club is a super popular idea and business model! Tyler is our 3rd place Compassionate Pitch Contest Winner!

As with many entrepreneurs, she found The Academy through friends who had graduated from the program already and recommended it.

Since then, “I’ve just been working on the business plan and trying to turn it into a reality. The next step is figuring out how to acquire a sizeable piece of land. And the money to build the kind of structure it needs.”

As someone working in media and tech, Tyler has been building decks and giving presentations for years, so the pitch contest didn’t intimidate her all that much. That being said, Tyler did put in the work and came prepared. She practiced a lot. Like, a lot a lot.

“I turned to index cards because I feel like Index cards have helped me memorize everything. And I memorized my pitch in two days, and then just kept practicing it. My facilitator acted as one of my pitch coaches, and one piece of advice she gave really stuck out to me… she told me not to expect complete silence while I was up on stage. So I started practicing in front of my boyfriend and family, practicing with distractions. I even found a YouTube video of a theater full of people sitting there, starting at your in silence, and applying. So I practice to those fake crowds repeatedly.”

See? A lot a lot!

Even with all the work, Tyler did have a few moments of nerves before she got up on the big stage, but her cohort was seated right at the foot of the stage. She found strength and comfort from their presence as she walked up and pitched her business.

Tyler came into The Academy with only an idea, and throughout our 10-week program, she learned a lot and made connections that she will continue to carry with her on her entrepreneurial journey. (One of those networking moments via The Academy is with a city councilwoman interested in Treats Dog Park & Social Club, with connections to land opportunities!)

“The Academy helped me think about things I literally didn’t know I had to think about, like a break-even point. The program is multi-faceted, so it felt like everyone was getting something different from the program because we were all at different stages in our businesses. I’m so excited to tap into the resources available to me – through the Compassionate Pitch Contest and also as an Academy Alumna – and keep pitching my business and talking to people about it. I’ve had this goal to go to business school and continue learning, so I put some of the pitch winnings toward taking the GMAT.”

As Tyle forges forward, honing her business model and accomplishing the next steps toward launching Treats Dog Park & Social Club, she has a bit of advice for any entrepreneurs with a business idea in their back pocket, like her.

“The Academy is a wonderful resource, and the community you can find here has been a really unexpected blessing that I didn’t anticipate getting out of this experience. If you have a business you want to improve or a business you want to create, I say take the steps toward it every day and… I hate to sound like Nike but, just do it!”

Twice As Nice

Lynn Parker is the only person to graduate from The Academy twice.

She was one of the first people to participate in our 10-week entrepreneurial program. But then, just earlier this year, an invite to our Masterclass hit her inbox.

Somehow, with the transition to a new CRM, her email had ended up back on The Academy Waitlist. So she came. And then, by some crazy chance, she was accepted into The Academy for a second time.

“I was like, okay God, I surrender. Because I didn’t apply for the program when I thought I should have done it, and now it’s been such a blessing for me and my business.”

She runs Food 4 Life Meal Prep, a vegan and vegetarian prep business serving Nashville and Clarksville.

So Lynn has seen The Academy in its first moments and at its most recent height, after booming growth the past couple of years.

“I remember my graduation… It was at some little place, we had one room and it was crowded. I got a little certificate, there was some punch and that was it. But now it’s – whoa! I would have never ever imagined that it would have grown to this magnitude. Shana Berkeley has been doing an amazing job. I’m thankful to Will for having the foresight to actually create this program. So it’s just totally amazing because the opportunities that you have to grow your business after becoming an Academy Alumni are just exponentially over the top. So I am grateful.”

Lynn had memorized all the words to her pitch perfectly. But when she called her best friend to share the pitch over the phone, her friend said, “The pitch is great. But I don’t hear you. Where’s Lynn?”

“I was like ‘What?’ When she said that to me, a light bulb went off and I just decided to have fun with it. Because Food 4 Life Meal Prep is my baby. I am here, I have arrived, and this is what is on the road that I’m on.”

So she rewrote her pitch, re-memorized it, and after the last-minute changes, she was ready to take the stage.

“I will say though, maybe one or two people might have seen me wobble because my legs felt like spaghetti strings afterward walking down the stairs!” 

But up on stage during her pitch, we all heard Lynn. We heard about her passion for Food 4 Life Meal Prep, and she ended up winning second place in our Compassionate Pitch Contest. 

So what’s up next for Lynn and her business?

“I’m in the process of creating a weekly meal prep that people can choose from and I’m gonna launch it very very soon. [You can find Lynn’s meal prep options here now!!] I have the ability to give people a culinary experience.

“The best compliments I’ve received are changing people’s minds about certain foods. Like a gentleman saying he doesn’t eat spinach, but loving my frittata with spinach and mushrooms. Or a man whose wife had been trying to get him to eat fresh salmon for about 25 years, and then he couldn’t get enough of my salmon croquettes!”

In addition to changing hearts and minds (and pallets!), Lynn is hoping to dedicate more time to live cooking videos to engage with her audience on social media.

“I’ve done the 9 to 5, I am 54 years old. And I’ve never, ever been this free in doing something that I love – ever.”

Because entrepreneurship is more than just working for yourself – it’s the freedom to pursue your passion, to turn your dreams into money-making realities.

But entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone.

“It’s rough. It isn’t for the squeamish or the weak, I can tell you that much. But for the people willing to put in the effort and the work: Do The Academy. It is worth it. It will change your life. The facilitators are amazing, and they walk you through each step, and if you are struggling and you need some kind of guidance, they’ll be there for you.”

Our entrepreneurs who sign up for The Academy, walk across that stage and continue to better their businesses through The Academy Amplified are some of the most dedicated and driven business owners. They constantly put their businesses first because they believe in themselves and their missions, and we’re there rooting for them every step of the way.