Made for Knoxville: Grady Vanderhoofven

Investor & Capital Mechanic: Meet Grady Vanderhoofven, Founder & CEO, Three Roots Capital and Meritus Ventures

Originally a Yale-educated mechanical engineer, it makes sense that Grady Vanderhoofven sees companies, economies, and communities like ours as engines – powerful machines capable of amazing things when treated well and given the right fuel. When he talks about fueling an engine, he gets passionate about entrepreneurs, and their access to capital. And like a seasoned mechanic, Grady can take a look under the hood of a company and get it up and running – and running well. With over twenty years as a founder, investor, adviser, and board member, Grady has focused on getting capital into the hands of companies in rural and/or in low income areas across Appalachia.

Grady has launched or co-launched several ground-breaking investment funds, including Meritus Ventures, the first RBIC (Rural Business Investment Company) in the United States. Three Roots Capital was founded in 2016, and in only five years, has already deployed nearly 50 million dollars to companies in Tennessee and Kentucky, with plans for much more.

Learn more about Three Roots Capital at and Meritus Ventures at

“Made for Knoxville” shines the light on the big wins, everyday hustles, and ongoing challenges of our diverse entrepreneurial community — ranging from “solo-preneurs,” makers, growth stage tech companies, investors, and established institutions. Let the world know what YOU’RE made for at and make sure to tag #madeforknox on social.

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