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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FunLPro Technology LLC Winner of Startup Day 2015 Pitch Competition

(Knoxville, Tenn) – Bryan Crosby with FunLPro Technology LLC claimed the winning pitch prize during Startup Day 2015 on Thursday, November 19, 2015 on the U.S. Cellular Stage at The Bijou Theatre in Downtown Knoxville.

Bryan Crosby, FunLPro Technology LLC, received $5,000 from sponsor BOBA (Business Owners Benefits Association). The winning pitch was one of seven heard during the annual Startup Day, now in its third year.

This was the first time Startup Day has announced a pitch winner and offered prize money.

“We’re pleased to be able to present Bryan Crosby this honor and look forward to seeing how FunLPro Technology grows in the future,” said John Ballinger, COO and co-founder of BOBA. Ballinger, a distinguished military veteran and small business champion, founded BOBA in 2007 with the vision of returning financial balance to those contributing the most to the U.S. economy. BOBA offers small business owners and non-profit organizations a solution for reducing costs, controlling risks, and advising on the many issues associated with operating a successful business or organization, to include; payment processing, HR compliance, insurance, risk management, training and legal services.

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.

Judges David Kereiakes, Senior Associate, River Cities Capital Funds; Angel Gambino, CEO, Alchemists Collective; and David Belitz, Chattanooga Renaissance Fund; scored all presentations on a variety of criteria including value proposition, market and sales strategy, distinctive competence and growth potential.

“We are proud of all the entrepreneurs and look forward to seeing them continue to grow their businesses,” said Shawn Carson, Director of Tech 2020 and Startup Day Steering Committee member. Tech 2020 is also a Startup Day sponsor. “This was a tough competition, filled with tremendous talent. All of the entrepreneurs are to be commended.”

More than 500 business leaders, investors, and entrepreneurs attended the annual event. Startup Day 2015 featured Angel Gambino, an international entrepreneur and Detroit native who moved back to her hometown from London to energize the community, founding Alchemists Collective. The first ever Traction Award was also presented to a Startup Day alum who has made the most progress over the past few years. ARiES Energy received the award, sponsored by UT Federal Credit Union.

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 Bryan Crosby and FunLPro Technology LLC

Bryan Crosby is the 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 Technology 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. FunLPro is bottled on to existing container systems through existing assembly line processes and eliminates the need for end users to purchase, store, and utilize a separate pouring system when transferring fluids.

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ARiES Energy Recipient of Startup Day’s first Traction Award, Sponsored by UT Federal Credit Union

(Knoxville, Tenn) – ARiES Energy, an alternative energy solutions company launched in 2011 by founder Harvey Abouelata, is the recipient of Startup Day 2015’s first Traction Award. ARiES Energy presented a Power Pitch during the first Startup Day in 2013. The announcement was made during the Startup Day program at the U.S. Cellular Stage at The Bijou Theatre in Downtown Knoxville.

Myra Hamilton, AVP of Business Lending with UT Federal Credit Union, the sponsor of the award, presented it to Abouelata during the Startup Day program in front of 500 business leaders, investors, and entrepreneurs in attendance.

“We are pleased to sponsor this award and give it to such a deserving recipient as Harvey and ARiES Energy,” said Hamilton. “Harvey’s contributions to the alternative energy solutions market in the East Tennessee are significant and his idea began just three years ago with a Startup Day pitch.”

Since its Startup Day introduction, ARiES Energy has merged with PHG Energy (PHGE) and Thompson Machinery.  The alliance provides customers with the strength and reach of Thompson Machinery, the high level of engineering capabilities of PHGE, and the innovation of ARIES’ energy technology. These resources enhance ARiES’ ability to provide collective customers with customized cost effective solutions by deploying the very latest in reduction and energy technology.

“It’s a great honor to receive the first ever Traction Award at Startup Day 2015,” said Abouelata. “We’ve experienced tremendous growth in ARiES and we wouldn’t be as successful without the support of Knoxville’s entrepreneurial community.”

In just a few short years, ARiES developed the first proton power gasification system at Wampler’s Farm Sausage; signed a contract for Sevier Solid Waste’s waste to energy gasification system; and installed multiple commercial, residential and off-grid solar systems, including a 1.37 megawatt community solar project agreement underway for Appalachian Electric Coop. Doubling in sales every year, expanding from four to nine full-time employees, ARiES’ recent merger increases the company’s buying power and bonding capabilities, further enhancing the success of an evaluation process that includes monitoring customer habits and feasibility studies.

“ARiES Energy has proven how a startup can grow quickly, gaining the traction needed to become a fully operational company, making an impact on not just the East Tennessee community but the nation by providing alternative energy solutions,” said Jim Biggs, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC) Executive Director and Startup Day Steering Committee member. KEC is also a Startup Day sponsor. “Harvey and ARiES are very deserving of the Traction Award. ARiES represents the true entrepreneur spirit.”

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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It’s Almost Time! The Excitement is Building for Startup Day 2015!

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Startup Day Pitcher Bryan Crosby talks about FunLPro on WVLT, a new product he will be introducing during Startup Day, Thursday, November 19. Crosby is one of seven pitchers competing to win $5,000.

Knoxville’s third annual Startup Day, an event to celebrate Knoxville’s entrepreneurial spirit, will be held Thursday, November 19 at the U.S. Cellular Stage at The Bijou Theatre in downtown Knoxville.

Startup Day includes fireside chats with Knoxville’s most outstanding entrepreneurs and investors and new this year, a pitch competition between seven startups, competing for a $5,000 cash prize. The first Traction Award will be presented to a Startup Day alum that’s made the most progress over the past three years.

More than 400 attendees participate in the event including: business leaders, entrepreneurs and startups, investors, young professionals and community leaders.

Who:
International Entrepreneur and CEO, Alchemists Collective, Angel Gambino
City of Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero
Jon Shieber, Senior Editor, TechCrunch and CrunchBase
Click here for a complete list of speakers, startup competitors and Traction Award nominees.

Where: U.S. Cellular Stage at The Bijou Theatre, 803 S. Gay St., Knoxville, TN
When: Thursday, November 19, 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Startup Day 2015 showcases Knoxville as a destination for startups and entrepreneurs. It is presented by a steering committee that represents the region’s entrepreneurial assets and support network: 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.

To learn more, visit http://knoxvillestartupday.com/.

And the Nominees Are…Meet The Entrepreneurs Vying for the Traction Award

KEC

Traction Award nominees Harvey Abouelata and Uta Preston talk startup strategy at the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC) during November’s First Friday preview.

Three Knoxville area entrepreneurs and Startup Day alums are vying to be the recipient of the first ever UT Federal Credit Union (UTFCU) Traction Award during Startup Day 2015, Thursday, November 19, 2015 on the U.S. Cellular stage at The Bijou Theatre. Doors open at 1:45 pm with the program beginning at 2:30 pm.

The UTFCU Traction Award recognizes an alum who has made significant progress, gaining the most ‘traction’ since presenting a Startup Day Power Pitch.

Knoxville’s Startup Day , which began in 2013, promotes new ideas and businesses in the East Tennessee region. In addition to the UTFCU Traction Award, this year’s event includes seven pitchers competing to win a $5,000 cash prize sponsored by BOBA.

Meet the Traction Award nominees:

HARVEY ABOUELATA, ARiES Energy An alternative energy solutions company launched in 2011 by Harvey Abouelata, ARiES Energy takes customers through a process of evaluating, reducing and producing while leveraging savings that provide the greatest economic impact. Since its launch, ARiES has installed the first proton power gasification system at Wampler’s Farm Sausage; signed a contract for Sevier Solid Waste’s waste to energy gasification system; and installed multiple commercial, residential and off-grid solar systems, including a 1.73 MW community solar project agreement underway for Appalachian Electric Coop. Doubling in sales every year, expanding from four to nine full-time employees, ARiES’ recent merger increases the company’s buying power and bonding capabilities, further enhancing the success of an evaluation process that includes monitoring customer habits and feasibility studies.

BOB BRADLEY, NewsBreak Media Networks What started out as an outlet to provide news and advertising on over-the-pump television screens at Knoxville-area gas stations in 2009, has since grown to include a proprietary software to introduce new revenue streams through merchandising. NewsBreak Media Network’s growth is the brainchild of President/CEO Bob Bradley, a 2014 Knoxville Startup Day alum who became an investor in the company in 2011. He’s since taken the start-up digital company to national prominence. NewsBreak is now a fully integrated, smart merchandising platform that converts fuel-only customers to multi-product purchasers with expected growth to include 200 convenience stores by the fourth quarter of this year, up from 88 at the end of 2014 and 32 at the end of 2013. Earlier this year, NewsBreak opened its first site in Santa Clara, California, a major change from locations primarily in Tennessee.

UTA PRESTON, Little Fishkopp When Uta Preston founded her German-inspired kids clothing brand Little Fishkopp, she had a simple vision of bringing safer, sounder and more stylish sleep to babies across the globe by producing eco-friendly clothing that lasts. In just a few years, Preston’s vision has spun into a business that sells worldwide, proving that while she may have “little fish” in her company name, business is booming on a big fish scale. A 2013 Startup Day alum, Preston sells locally at two prominent vendors in Knoxville – Bliss and Twig – and she’s bringing more vendors onboard in 2016.
Boasting a robust online business, Little Fishkopp is found in nurseries worldwide. She’s also expanded beyond lightweight and standard sleep bags to include infant bodysuits and toddler T-shirts.

Additional activities during Startup Day include three Fireside Chats featuring international entrepreneur Angel Gambino; and several local investors and innovators.

For more information, knoxvillestartupday.com.

 

 

Startup Day Announces Angel Gambino, CEO, Alchemists Collective, as Featured Fireside Chat

(Knoxville-TENN) -Detroit native and Chief Executive Officer of Alchemists Collective, Angel Gambino, will take center stage at the U.S. Cellular Stage at The Bijou Theatre on Thursday, November 19, 2015, sharing how international entrepreneurial success mixed with hometown passion can energize cities like Knoxville.

Angel Gambino

Angel Gambino

Ms. Gambino is an example of how an early adopter holds the key to developing a thriving startup spirit in any community. Her efforts in Detroit have led to the revitalization of Corktown, the oldest residential neighborhood in the city, now bustling with commercial growth and home to The Alchemists Collective headquarters, a venture development that includes more than 110,000 square feet of property.

TechCrunch’s Jon Shieber returns to Knoxville for his second Startup Day appearance, interviewing Ms. Gambino for her fireside chat.

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 moved back to Detroit from London to join others committed to reigniting economic growth in her hometown.

“Ms. Gambino is an entrepreneur who shares Knoxville’s passion for reinvesting in local communities and growing a local culture,” said Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer for Pershing Yoakley & Associates. PYA is a Startup Day Presenting Sponsor. “Anyone attending Startup Day, from an entrepreneur to an investor to someone interested in starting a business, will find inspiration from Ms. Gambino.”

Angel Gambino is the former General Manager, Smart Mobility for Castrol Lubricants where she developed their global smart mobility strategy, brokered investments, created and advised Boards of a portfolio of mobility ventures. As Senior VP of Innovation for Westfield Shoppingtowns (the largest retail owner/operator in the world), she was responsible for developing and overseeing innovation, consumer experience, commercial and community activations and partnerships bridging ecommerce and physical retail.

She is also a former Vice President at MTV Networks, responsible for strategy and profitability of commercial properties, television distribution, licensing, merchandising and digital media as well as having been the youngest Controller at the BBC where she lead the transformation of the broadcaster in to an award winning multi-platform media company by developing their first mobile and on-demand services such as the iPlayer. Before working in big media, Ms. Gambino was a consultant to Fortune 50 US companies launching their first internet operations and was part of the founding team at a handful of digital startups in the 1990’s that are still profitable today.

Ms. Gambino has won numerous awards as a digital media entrepreneur and business leader including being listed within WIRED’s Annual Top 100 Innovators and the UK’s TechCity Top 100.

She has a Juris Doctorate and Masters from the University of Oregon School of Law and two Bachelor of Arts from Missouri Valley College where she competed in the national finals for women’s soccer.

In addition to Angel Gambino’s featured chat, additional activities include seven startups pitching for the chance to win $5,000; fireside chats with area investors and entrepreneurs; and the first ever UT Federal Credit Union Traction Award, presented to a Startup Day alum who has made the most progress in the past three years.

Startup Day 2015 is free but registration is required.

About Startup Day 2015

Startup Day showcases Knoxville as a destination for startups and entrepreneurs. It is presented by a steering committee that represents the region’s entrepreneurial assets and support network: 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.

For more information: www.knoxvillestartupday.com

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COMMENTARY: Support “Start-up Day” on November 19

By: Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.Tom_Ballard

There’s a great program that has been planned with three dynamic fireside chats, a pitch event featuring seven individuals competing for a $5,000 cash prize, and three companies vying for the community’s first-ever “Traction Award.”

What are we talking about?

I hope you already know the answer. It’s Knoxville’s third annual “Start-up Day,” and the event promises to be the biggest and best yet. All that needs to happen is for you and your friends to pack the Bijou Theater on Thursday afternoon, November 19.

A Steering Committee composed of individuals representing champions of entrepreneurship in the Knoxville-Oak Ridge region has been meeting since spring to plan the event. Representatives come from the region’s:

  • Key generators of intellectual property – Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee, specifically the UT Research Foundation;
  • Entrepreneurially-focused support organizations – Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, Tech 2020, UT’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and Launch Tennessee; and
  • Private sector – Pershing Yoakley & Associates, the power behind teknovation.biz.

The Steering Committee established three key goals for the 2015 event:

  • Celebrate entrepreneurship – past, present and still to come;
  • Showcase the region as a destination for start-ups and entrepreneurs; and
  • Address our greatest local challenge which is access to capital.

The program is all about celebration. The “Traction Award” was created to recognize significant progress achieved by companies that pitched at past “Start-up Days.” The addition of a cash prize for this year’s pitch competition elevates the event to a new level. And, there’s been an aggressive effort to attract more investors from outside the area to see the exciting start-ups our region is spawning.

By moving this year’s event to the Bijou, “Start-up Day” can accommodate many more attendees than was possible previously.

So, the table has been set, and now it’s up to you and others from the region to do your part. It starts by registering for the event (here’s the link) and showing-up when the doors open at 2 p.m. November 19. We are asking that you commit a few hours to an event that is about the long-term growth and development of the place we call home.

If you want more details about the program, click here.

Knoxville Hosts Startup Day: WBIR Newsmaker Interview with Knoxville Entrepreneur Center Executive Director

Knoxville Entrepreneur Center Executive Director Jim Biggs provides a preview of Knoxville Startup Day 2015 on WBIR’s newsmaker segment and discusses the entrepreneurial spirit of the city. Startup Day is in its third year and the event continues to grow. On November 19 at the Bijou Theatre, seven pitchers will compete for a $5,000 prize.

 

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KEC Executive Director Jim Biggs talks Startup Day on WBIR.

 

 

First Friday Preview: Meet Startup Day 2015 Traction Award Nominees

Since 2013, Knoxville’s Startup Day has promoted new ideas and businesses, awarding the winning power pitch from a local startup with a $5,000 cash prize. New to Startup Day 2015 is the first Traction Award, sponsored by UT Federal Credit Union and presented to a Startup Day alum that’s made the most progress over the past three years. This First Friday panel discussion will feature two of the three Traction Award nominees, discussing how they’ve grown their businesses and sharing thoughts about what it takes to start a business in Knoxville. The nominees will be joined by sponsor UT Federal Credit Union.

Panelists:
Harvey Abouelata, ARiES Energy
Uta Preston, Little Fishkopp
Jonathan Patrick, UT Federal Credit Union

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Traction Award Sponsor

Moderator: Amy Nolan, Editor, Greater Knoxville Business Journal

WHEN
Friday, November 6, 2015 from 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM (EST)
WHERE
Knoxville Entrepreneur Center – 17 Market Square. #101. Knoxville, TN 37902

Startup Day 2015 is Thursday, November 19 at the Bijou Theatre. Doors open at 2 with program at 2:30 pm. Tickets are free but registration is required. Info: knoxvillestartupday.com.

Sponsored 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.

 

The journey: Startup Day alums share high points, lessons learned

By: Amy Nolan
Business Journal

You don’t have much time to apply to pitch your idea at Knoxville’s Startup Day, but you can still learn from those who’ve made the cut. Applications are being accepted through Oct. 6 for startups to present their ideas to nearly 400 business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors and community leaders.

Now in its third year and hosted by a group of East Tennessee business, entrepreneurial and organizational partners, Startup Day promises to be bigger and better. For the first time, a $5,000 cash prize will be awarded to the most promising pitch. And the event — scheduled for Nov. 19 — is moving to the Bijou Theatre to make room for more guests.

Read Knoxville News Sentinel’s full story here.

Alumni share their tips below.

A list of details about each alum’s endeavor is compiled here.

How do you continue to develop your business?

What’s one personal business highlight that you’ve had over the past year?

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned so far?

If you could start over again, what would you do differently?

What advice do you have for others who want to start a business?

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