Relive Knoxville’s 2015 Startup Day and hear from Angel Gambino with this recap video

Relive Knoxville’s 2015 Startup Day and hear why the event is important to the community from International Entrepreneur & Alchemists Collective CEO, Angel Gambino.

“If any of us are going to grow our businesses, we can’t be defined by geography. Most of us are in our hometowns and not moving to Silicon Valley because our friends and our family and our lifestyle are what we love most,” said Gambino.

Oak Ridge-based General Graphene $8.7 million closer to proof of concept

by Shelley Kimel, News Sentinel

Imagine holding your car on a sheet of plastic wrap. Now, make that plastic wrap 1 million times thinner and you’re close to the size and strength of graphene.

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Jason Richards/ORNL Ivan Vlassiouk, a researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, holds silicon wafer on which a layer of graphene is deposited. His findings about manufacturing graphene have been licensed by General Graphene, an Oak Ridge startup.

Vig Sherrill’s Oak Ridge startup, General Graphene, licensed from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Texas in 2014 the technology to manufacture the advanced material in an affordable manner that would widen its use in everyday products.

Graphene, which is made of a sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagon design Sherrill likens to “atomic chicken wire,” is harder than diamond, but flexible; 200 times stronger than steel, but only one atom thick; and has 1,000 times the current carrying capacity and is 20 times more thermally conductive than copper. It’s also one of the most expensive materials in the world.

“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 says. “That’s the potential of graphene.”

General Graphene plans to make those products a reality through cheaper, faster production of the material using those licenses combined with its proprietary technology

The company in November received an $8.7 million investment from a consortium led by Knoxville-based Angel Capital Group and one syndication partner to help in its quest.

It’s the largest investment in Angel Capital’s history and one of the largest Series A financing rounds in the Southeast region, says CEO Eric Dobson, himself a “recovering entrepreneur” and founder of Knoxville-based TrakLok.

What’s exceptional, however, is that 95 percent of the funding came from within the state — mostly Nashville and Knoxville. The ability to completely fund startups locally increases the chance they’ll stay, grow and create jobs here rather than looking elsewhere, Dobson said.

Sherrill will use the funds to produce the company’s first prototype over the next two years. He expects to see consumer applications within 10 years.

He is quick to give credit to Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s licensing team and particularly researcher Ivan Vlassiouk, who helped create the technology he is commercializing.

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

The entrepreneur and researcher continue to work together, and earlier this year a team including Vlassiouk found another use for graphene as a filter in an energy-efficient desalination process.

Researchers see applications for the material — either as sheets or a powder — in flexible electronics, lightweight and safe materials for the auto industry, more efficient batteries and solar panels or as an additive to other materials to improve their strength, in 3-D printing composites for example.

The possible uses for graphene beyond what we know today are unimaginable, Sherrill says, but also unobtainable because the material is currently too expensive to produce widely.

“Right now you can only get graphene the size of a deck of cards (for about $1,000). It’s not enough to do anything with except experiment and even then not very much. Our first prototype proof of concept will produce stuff about the size of a piece of paper for less,” Sherrill says.

Eventually General Graphene will produce sheets of the material by the square meter, further reducing the price by an order of magnitude. When that happens and the material is more available, research will really take off, he says.

“Go back 60 years and ask what were the uses of plastic before plastic was invented?” he says. “It’s amazing. This is Jetsons kind of stuff.”

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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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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The Time Is Now. Seven Pitchers, One Chance to Win Cash and Make Dreams Come True.

Your cheat sheet to the startups taking the stage at Startup Day, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 19. at the Bijou Theatre. More
information and a full agenda are available at
http://knoxvillestartupday.com/schedule/.

Contendersstartup-day-logo

Additerra Additerra offers a Web application and e-commerce platform to custom manufacture, price and distribute parts quickly, based on 3-D files uploaded by customers. The company, based at Technology 2020, provides prototyping and production services with 3-D printing. “Knoxville is a very exciting place to be right now for advanced manufacturing,” said founder Will Sames. “I’ve personally had previous development projects fail due to long lead times and high costs on custom parts. Our business is solving that problem.”

Website: https://additerra.com/

RadiantWear RadiantWear offers a line of clothing for women undergoing treatment for breast cancer. The tops use various fasteners to provide discreet access for various medical tests and follow-up care. “My mother, Linda Henderson, created the first top for me last year when I was going through radiation therapy for breast cancer,” said founder Marva Solt. The top “removed the psychological hit of having to put on a hospital gown every day,” Solt said. The design is now patented and they’re looking to expand the line for other types of patients.

Website: https://radiantwearclothing.com/

SimPath Simpath will commercialize technology from Oak Ridge National Laboratory to reduce the time researchers spend on work other than “true science” by providing quick, reliable, DNA synthesis and assembly. “My desire to start a company that does DNA synthesis and assembly was created by another desire: to have a meaningful impact in science,” said founder Rob Moseley, who is also pursuing a PhD. “I plan to show how important DNA is and how helping researchers be more productive can improve all of our lives.” The company was also one of 13 contenders at the recent Vol Court pitch contest.

FunLpro Technology Is a patented closure system that eliminates spills and messes when pouring chemical fluid products by integrating a pouring spout within the product’s container cap. The company has partnered with KenJo Lubricants to include the FunLpro on motor oil products in KenJo stores across Tennessee. A second agreement will see FunLpro sold separately in all truck stop locations where IdleAir has operations.

Founder: Bryan Crosby

Website: http://funlpro.com/

SpareTime Entertainment SpareTime Entertainment is the next iteration of Baracksdubs — a series of YouTube videos featuring musical mashups with President Barack Obama singing popular songs — that creator Fadi Saleh has grown to nearly 1 million subscribers over the past three years. To turn that hobby into a business, Saleh developed a proprietary content search and management system, Optimus, to search for video clips on the Web and speed up his editing process. Now that platform can go further, building remixes from a variety of entertainment types and eventually letting users create their own. Saleh successfully took the idea through the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s Media Works digital media accelerator earlier this year.

Founder: Fadi Saleh

Website: https://www.youtube.com/user/baracksdubs

RDI LLC RDI LLC provides an optical technology platform capable of measuring motion, vibration and displacement not visible to the human eye in real time. Originally used in baby monitoring, the company has expanded to critical infrastructure and manufacturing machinery.

Founder: Jeff Hay

Website: http://www.rdi-technologies.com/

Anyroam Anyroam looks to increase connectivity in the research and education community through the eduroam service. The service provides Wi-Fi roaming services that will securely accept a user’s local logon credentials at other partner organizations.

Founder: Philippe Hanset

Website: https://www.eduroam.us/

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

Knoxville+Start+Up+Day

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/.

UTRF Launching a New “Tennessee Venture Challenge” Initiative

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

The University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF), a Startup Day sponsor, has just announced details for its second “Tennessee Venture Challenge” (TVC).

The business plan competition, first held in 2014, is designed to encourage students, researchers and those from the TVC-760-x-380community to create new, high growth businesses that are based in whole or in part of intellectual property created within the UT system.

“UTRF exists to help ensure that the inventions of UT faculty, staff and students have a strong commercial pathway,” Stacey Patterson, UTRF Vice President, said. “The ‘Tennessee Venture Challenge’ is one of the tools we are using to not only make that happen, but also accelerate the time to market for these technologies.”

Companies can register to be part of the TVC through December 10 by completing the Intent to Compete Form and the TVC Participant Form. Before doing so, Patterson advises individuals to carefully review the eligibility criteria.

The start-up must be a legally established company seeking to develop a product or service based in whole or in part on intellectual property created within the UT system. The obligated technology must comprise an integral part of the start-up’s business focus. The start-up does not have to be located in Tennessee.

With the exception of grants through the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, the new venture cannot have revenues that exceed $50,000 in the prior 12 months. If so, they are excluded. The $50,000 limit also applies to equity capital, but not to funds provided by founders or friends and family.

Applicants are encouraged to form teams that must consist of two to four people with one of the members committed to playing a leadership role in the new venture. “If an applicant is deficient in an area, we will let them know what needs to be corrected to be eligible to participate,” Patterson said.

The TVC will have its kick-off event beginning at 4 p.m. January 26 at the UT Business Incubator. After those festivities, the inaugural workshop in a six-session series participants will begin. After the first four workshops, the participants will be cut to a handful of companies that will participate in a semi-final competition March 8. That event will produce a set of finalists who will compete to be selected the TVC winner in a finale set for March 25.

UTRF is working with regional partners to organize the workshop series. While the sessions will be instructed live in Knoxville, participants at other UT locations around the state can participate via videoconferencing.

“We strongly encourage that all participants in the TVC participate in the sessions,” Patterson said, adding that each team should plan on having at least one representative present at each workshop.

For more information, click here.

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.