August 15, 2023

Meet The Tech Entrepreneur Leading This Nashville HBCU’s New Innovation Center

Holly Rachel

Tech entrepreneur Holly Rachel has been named the first executive director of an Innovation Center at Fisk University, a Nashville HBCU.

Fisk University

Fisk University is a private Historically Black College & University (HBCU) and is the oldest institution of higher learning in Nashville, Tennessee.

Their mission is to produce graduates from diverse backgrounds with the integrity and intellect required for substantive contributions to society.

They have now announced the opening of the Darrell S. Freeman Sr. Incubation and Innovation Center, which is set to open at the beginning of 2024.

The center will focus on supporting the next generation of startups and entrepreneurs and will be housed at Burrus Hall.

The Hall is being transformed into an incubation and innovation facility with more than 13,000 space feet of flexible space for programming and engagement.

“Research has shown that when low-income/underprivileged entrepreneurs participate in incubation programs, they can grow 22% in revenue and 15% in employment,” said Holly Rachel and Lena Winfree, President and Vice President of Blacks in Technology.

“What this means for Davidson County is that small business owners of all industries can access the programs and resources they need to scale – not just to build personal generational wealth, but to become job creators for their community.”

The new space will hold tech boot camps and programs, including mentoring, classes, workshops and events.

“Incubators are distinct ecosystems populated by curious and inquisitive entrepreneurs, free agents, programmers, designers, dreamers, angel investors, tinkerers, venture capitalists, and this Center marks the next stage in Nashville’s remarkable development,” said Fisk University Executive Vice President Jens Frederiksen. 

Holly Rachel, Executive Director

Fisk University has now announced Holly Rachel as the Executive Director for The Darrell S. Freeman Sr. Incubation and Innovation Center.

Rachel is a seasoned executive, educator, and entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience in helping companies in founders realize their goals.

She was a vital team member that developed the vision for the Center and has been described as an ideal candidate to lead the charge, said Fisk Executive Vice President Dr Jens Frederiksen. 

Previously, Rachel and her business partner launched a technology consulting firm specializing in helping small to midsize businesses strategically scale with data.

They also chartered the Nashville chapter of Blacks in Technology, a global organization aimed at increasing the number of minorities in tech by expanding education opportunities.

“I am very excited to begin this new role,” she said.

“With its focus and location on the campus of Fisk University, the Freeman Center will bring something unique to Nashville’s entrepreneurial landscape.”

Programming will start in Spring 2024, and the building will open the following Fall. 

Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.