FunLPro’s Bryan Crosby says “we are there now”

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

The life of an entrepreneur rarely follows a linear path, something Bryan Crosby, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of FunLPro Technology LLC, has lived recently.

As noted in this late 2015 post on teknovation.biz, the Maryville native founded the company to capitalize on a unique pouring device his father had invented. Today, FunLPro has one issued patent and two others that are pending.

“We are there now,” Crosby says in describing the progress the start-up has made on several fronts. The journey has been challenging, but he sees good things ahead.

It had been more than six months since we received an update on the start-up. Since then, Crosby has graduated from the University of Tennessee (UT) with his MBA and has focused all of his energies on FunLPro.

The effort is paying-off. The company has a 38 mm standard pouring device that attaches to antifreeze and wiper fluid containers. It is available in a two-cap blister pack at convenience centers like Pilot, usually in the same area where bottles of the fluids are sold.

This retail development is important for FunLPro.

“I’m particularly focused on the retail side right now,” Crosby says, explaining that the special caps can drive cash flow while FunLPro pushes the roll out of its proprietary container and private label products.

One of those private labels is Magna 1, marine oil that is now available at eight marinas on Norris Lake. Another – a white label quart of oil for KenJo Markets – should be in those stores as soon as this week.

When we initially interviewed Crosby, he was focused on finding the right company in China to manufacture FunLPro’s novel funnel that is built into containers to allow safe, accurate and easy dispensing of fluids into difficult areas.

The entrepreneur credits two St. Louis companies – C.L. Smith, a packaging supplier, and Hicks Oils, a producer of lubricants, for helping get FunLPro to where the company is today. Both are involved in the rollout of its private label products.

“It took forever – eight months – to get a cap engineer to help us,” Crosby says, noting that C.L. Smith identified the right person. Until that happened, FunLPro spent a good deal of time testing various iterations of the cap.

“Our sourcing agent vetted 58 different suppliers before we found the right one,” Crosby explained. They performed “drop, shake and leak tolerance tests” to assure themselves of the right manufacturer.

The company has leased a 2,600 sq. ft. warehouse in Oak Ridge and added two individuals to the team. One is Dustin Giltname, a fellow UT MBA graduate; the other is Elan Herrera, a UT engineering student working on his dissertation.

So what are Crosby’s priorities now?

“I’m seeking large retail partnerships,” he answers, adding that FunLPro is also seeking capital for inventory and international patents. Thus far, the start-up has been funded through friends and family.

“We want to be a licensor of our integrated caps to bottlers,” Crosby adds.

What lessons would he share with other aspiring entrepreneurs?

“Understand the time disconnect,” Crosby says. “It takes longer than you expect. Be patient.”

In addition, he underscores the importance of finding a native sourcing agent for any start-up exploring manufacturing in a foreign country such as China. “You need someone who speaks the language and understands the culture,” Crosby advises.

(Note: This article appeared previously on teknovation.biz, a web-based service that was launched to spotlight and celebrate “all things” related to technology, innovation and entrepreneurship in East Tennessee.)

Paul Singh coming to Knoxville during Innov865 Week

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Paul Singh will roll into Knoxville during Innov865 Week, driving his pick-up truck and pulling a custom-built Airstream travel trailer.

It’s part of what he calls the “North American Tech Tour” which features stops in both the U.S. and Canada, some for as little as a day, others for as long as a week. In the case of  Knoxville, Singh is scheduled to be here for the inaugural Innov865 Week scheduled for September 19-23.

His participation and other special programs planned during the week are part of a continuing effort to elevate the stature and visibility of Knoxville’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem. The Knoxville stop will be the 32nd different city Singh has visited on a tour that has taken him to several Canadian provinces and communities across this country.

In announcing the year-long initiative, Singh said he planned “to visit places that start-ups actually start (and grow) their businesses. At each stop, I’ve created a week-long series of events for entrepreneurs and investors.”

The format is fairly typical. Singh holds what he calls “Office Hours,” one-on-one meetings with entrepreneurs. Those who have the opportunity to talk with him are selected through an application process that will be announced later.

Singh also attends and participates in various sessions scheduled by the local organizing committee. In the case of “Innov865 Week,” those activities include the fourth annual “Start-up Day Knoxville” celebration on September 22 as well as the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s (KEC) “The Works Demo Day” and a number of micro-events. The full schedule will be announced later.

Here’s a summary of his visit earlier this year to Fargo, ND, and a similar summary from a later visit in St. Louis, MO.

For Singh, it seems like he is on the road almost every week. This week is a rare exception.

After the successful entrepreneur and seed stage investor was in five cities last week in Montana, he gets a breather for Fourth of July period before travelling to Indianapolis for four days next week.  You can see the plans for next week here.

Thus far, Singh has visited places such as Vancouver, BC; Waterloo, IA; Kansas City, MO; Omaha and Lincoln, NE; Las Vegas; Taos, Los Alamos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque, NM; Pittsburgh, PA; and Durham, NC in addition to Fargo and St. Louis.

Stops between Indianapolis and Knoxville include Des Moines, IA (July 17-23); Port Huron, MI (July 25-29);Syracuse, Utica and Saratoga Springs, NY (August 14-20); and Columbus, OH (September 4-10). After Knoxville, there’s one stop on the tour – Baltimore, MD (September 23-30).

“Innov865 Week” is a collaborative effort of the University of Tennessee’s Research Foundation and Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; KEC; Launch Tennessee; and PYA, sponsor of teknovation.biz.

(This story appeared originally on teknovation.biz, a web-based service that was launched to spotlight and celebrate “all things” related to technology, innovation and entrepreneurship in East Tennessee.)

Application Now Open for the 2016 Startup Day Pitch Competition

Pitch competition gives East Tennessee startups an opportunity to win $5,000

Knoxville, Tenn.– Applications are now being accepted for the Knoxville Startup Day 2016 pitch competition. Startup Day 2016 will feature six East Tennessee startups pitching their businesses for a chance to win a $5,000 cash prize. This is the second Startup Day pitch competition.

“Knoxville is a great city to start and grow a business, so it is important for our region to invest in the next generation of entrepreneurs to continue this growth,” said Stacey Patterson, Vice President of the University of Tennessee Research Foundation and founding member of the Innov865 Alliance. “The Startup Day pitch competition is an opportunity for East Tennessee entrepreneurs to pitch their innovative ideas and compete for a cash prize that can help make their vision a reality.”

To apply for the pitch competition, eligible startups must be located in the East Tennessee region and fill out an application, available on the Innov865 Week website: http://innov865week.com/apply. Applications will be accepted through July 25, 2016. The Innov865 Alliance will review applications and select six startups to participate. Applicants will be notified of the committee’s decision no later than August 8, 2016. Startup Day 2016 is scheduled for Thursday, September 22, 2016 at the U.S. Cellular Stage at The Bijou Theater.

Bryan Crosby with FunLPro Technology claimed the winning prize during Startup Day 2015 from sponsor BOBA (Business Owners Benefits Association). Investors from Alchemist Collective, River Cities Capital Funds and Chattanooga Renaissance Fund selected the winner.

This year marks the fourth annual Startup Day, which is now the signature event of the newly launched Innov865 Week– a week-long series of events, September 19-23, 2016, to celebrate and showcase Knoxville as a great place for entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses.

With more than 500 attendees at Startup Day 2015, event organizers saw an opportunity to leverage growing interest and momentum by expanding the one day celebration to a week long series of events for startups, entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders, students and the East Tennessee community.

 About

Innov865 Week is presented by the Innov865 Alliance. The Innov865 Alliance develops, supports and promotes the Knoxville region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. It’s a collaborative effort to celebrate and showcase Knoxville as a great place for entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses and increase access to capital. Founding members include the University of Tennessee Research Foundation, Oak Ridge National Lab, PYA, UT’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Launch Tennessee and Knoxville Entrepreneur Center.

For more information, visit: www.innov865.com

Contact:
Allie Rapkowicz, Piper Communications, Allison@piper-communications.com, 865-329-0553

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