Startup Day Crowd of More than 500 Celebrates Knoxville’s Entrepreneurial Spirit

(Knoxville, Tenn) – More than 500 of East Tennessee’s leading investors, innovators, entrepreneurs and business leaders convened at the U.S. Cellular Stage at The Bijou Theatre in Downtown Knoxville on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 2015 for the annual Startup Day, now in its third year and the area’s biggest event that recognizes entrepreneurship.

Bryan Crosby, FunLPro Technology LLC, was awarded the $5,000 cash prize from sponsor BOBA (Business Owners Benefits Association). Crosby was one of seven startups in competition for the prize.

Bryan Crosby is the co-founder and CEO of FunLPro Technology LLC, which produces a patented closure system for fluid containers that provides a lengthy, extendible, and directional pouring spout within the closure system itself. FunLPro eliminates the need to purchase, store, and reuse separate pouring devices such as traditional funnels that allow spills and contaminants to be present in the transfer process.

Harvey Abouelata, ARiES Energy founder and Startup Day 2013 alum, received the first ever Traction Award, sponsored by UT Federal Credit Union. The Traction Award was given to a Startup alum who has gained the most momentum in the past three years. ARiES Energy is an alternative energy solutions company launched in 2011.

One of the largest Series A funding investments in the Southeast region was announced during the event by Eric Dobson, Chief Executive Officer of Angel Capital Group. General Graphene, led by serial entrepreneur Vig Sherrill, is the recipient of the investment from Angel Capital Group, a national syndicate of angel groups and funds. General Graphene, introduced by Sherrill during a Startup Day 2014 Power Pitch, makes graphene, one of the most expensive substances on earth, affordable for material innovators throughout the world. At only one atom thick, graphene is harder than a diamond; 200 times stronger than steel; 1,000 times the current carrying capacity and 20 times more thermally conductive than copper; impermeable to all substances known; inert in the human body; anti-microbial; corrosion resistant; flexible and almost transparent.

“What a banner day this was for the Knoxville entrepreneur community,” said Stacey Patterson, University of Tennessee Research Foundation Vice President and Startup Day Steering Committee member. The University of Tennessee Research Foundation is a presenting sponsor of the event. “This was the largest Startup Day event in our history and shows the power of the entrepreneur and innovator spirit in Knoxville. Congratulations to the winners and to the startup pitchers; all are to be commended for their exemplary work. We’re also fortunate to be the place where such a significant investment announcement was made and look forward to seeing all the good things that General Graphene will do for the world.”

Startup Day 2015 also brought international entrepreneur and Chief Executive Officer of Alchemists Collective, Angel Gambino to Knoxville. Angel Gambino has founded and developed digital media companies that floated on the stock market and sold in high profile trade sales including the $850 million AOL TimeWarner acquisition of bebo. She is a native of Detroit who moved back to her hometown from London to join others committed to reigniting economic growth in her hometown. Her Startup Day message focused on how an entrepreneurial spirit and passion can reignite cities like Knoxville.

Additional activities included fireside chats with some of the area’s most successful investors and entrepreneurs representing Angel Capital Group, Meritus Ventures, The JumpFund, TennEra, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

About Startup Day

Several organizations that share in the mission of promoting new ideas and businesses, host Startup Day, an annual event that showcases Knoxville as a destination for startups and entrepreneurs. The event is hosted by: The University of Tennessee Research Foundation, Oak Ridge National Lab, Launch Tennessee, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, Tech 2020, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, and The Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. http://knoxvillestartupday.com/

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Largest Series A Funding in the Region Announced at Startup Day 2015

(Knoxville, Tenn) – One of the largest Series A funding investments in the Southeast was announced today at Startup Day 2015, an annual event celebrating Knoxville’s startup and entrepreneurial community. General Graphene Corporation, led by serial entrepreneur Vig Sherrill, is the recipient of an investment from Angel Capital Group, a national syndicate of angel groups and funds.

“We are pleased to announce the Series A investment in General Graphene,” said Eric Dobson, Angel Capital Group Chief Executive Officer. Angel Capital Group is one of the largest angel networks in the country and is headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee. “General Graphene demonstrates the Angel Capital Group investment philosophy, which is to find the real innovator in the nation’s heartland who has demonstrated science and technology that can ultimately have worldwide impact.”

General Graphene, introduced by Sherrill during a Startup Day 2014 Power Pitch, will manufacture graphene, one of the most expensive substances on earth, making it affordable for material innovators throughout the world. At only one atom thick, graphene is harder than diamond; 200 times stronger than steel; 1,000 times the current carrying capacity and 20 times more thermally conductive than copper; impermeable to all substances known; inert in the human body; anti-microbial; corrosion resistant; flexible and almost transparent.

“We’ve developed the technology that will enable the mass production of high quality graphene at a low cost,” Sherrill said. “Angel Capital Group’s funding will allow us to make the machine that will then in turn make the graphene. We will build our first prototype in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and get into pre-production.”

General Graphene has licensed a graphene synthesis process developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory that overcomes limitations of previously used techniques.

“Our approach represents a major step toward the goal of cost-effective industrial roll-to-roll graphene manufacturing,” said ORNL co-inventor Ivan Vlassiouk. “We appreciate General Graphene’s entrepreneurial vision and expertise in transitioning our scientific research to the commercial marketplace.”

According to Dobson, General Graphene is a perfect fit for Angel Capital Group’s funding model—a model that brings angel investors and entrepreneurs together in an environment that celebrates innovation, rewards strategic risk-taking, and focuses on performance.

“Our model is that we find the real true innovation, that you can touch, feel and see the scalability potential,” he said. “General Graphene is real; it can be scaled up and grown to maturity. We are excited to be a part of this world-changing investment.”

The use of graphene is only limited by the imagination of the user. The substance itself has virtually unlimited applications.

“Imagine having tires that only weigh two to three pounds; airplane wings that weigh a hundred pounds; and clothing that becomes bulletproof based on the fact that its made out of graphene,” Sherrill said. “That’s the potential of graphene. Nobody is using it now because you can’t buy enough to use; you can’t get the material to experiment with because it’s too expensive.”

Now with the Angel Capital Group’s Series A funding, General Graphene has the foundation needed to mass-produce high quality, low cost graphene.

“Angel Capital Group gets all the credit for making this possible,” Sherrill said. “They put together a model that worked for us.”

Angel Capital Group and one syndication partner have extended General Graphene a term sheet for the entire round and it will be completed by November 30, 2015.

About Startup Day

Several organizations that share in the mission of promoting new ideas and businesses, host Startup Day, an annual event that showcases Knoxville as a destination for startups and entrepreneurs. The event is hosted by: The University of Tennessee Research Foundation, Oak Ridge National Lab, Launch Tennessee, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, Tech 2020, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, and The Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. http://knoxvillestartupday.com/

About Angel Capital Group

Angel Capital Group (ACG) is a syndicate of angel groups and funds. The network brings angel investors and entrepreneurs together in an environment that celebrates innovation, rewards strategic risk-taking, and focuses on performance. ACG believes creating economically sustainable cities, regional economic impact, and wealth are the keys to restoring our country’s economic greatness. ACG aggregates exciting deal flow across the nation and over many industries for science and technology enabled startup companies. ACG consolidated its operations with RAIN Source Capital in 2015. The combined entity enjoys a storied 10 year history and has invested approximately $46M in 135 companies across a variety of market sectors. The combined portfolios have created over 4,500 jobs and $750M in follow-on capital investments by other funds. http://theangelcapitalgroup.com/

About General Graphene

Led by a seasoned team of entrepreneurs and manufacturers, General Graphene has developed a manufacturing system that will provide graphene sheets in industrial quantities at marketable prices making this miraculous material available to the material innovators of the world.  While others may have also developed the ability to make large sheet graphene, General Graphene has focused its efforts on making graphene affordable for mass applications. The General Graphene team includes Vig Sherrill, CEO; Greg Erickson, CFO and Buzz Patrick, COO. http://www.generalgraphenecorp.com/
To view General Graphene’s power pitch from Startup Day 2014, visit: http://startupday2014.com/presenters/vig-sherrill/

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