Knoxville’s annual entrepreneurship festival goes virtual, honors startups and inventors fighting COVID-19

Innov865 Week brings together local leaders, investors, entrepreneurs, and the public to celebrate Knoxville’s startup community

KNOXVILLE, Tenn., June 24, 2020 –  The Innov865 Alliance announced today Innov865 Week 2020 will be virtual this year, and it will make a special effort to honor startups and inventors making an impact on the fight against COVID-19. Innov865 Week 2020 is Monday, September 28 – Friday, October 2.

During a webinar with Mayor Kincannon, Tom Rogers, president and CEO of the UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm and founding member of the Innov865 Alliance shared why the Innov865 Alliance made the decision to continue Innov865 Week, virtually.

“Entrepreneurship is essential to the success of our community and now, more than ever is the time to rally around our entrepreneurs,” said Rogers. “Innov865 Week will continue to spotlight Knoxville as a great place to start and grow businesses and connect entrepreneurs planting roots here with support systems to succeed.”

Innov865 Week boasts a range of events for everyone in the community to support local economic development, from investors and regional entrepreneurs to community leaders and students.

The week’s premier event is Startup Day, Tuesday, September 29. Startup Day will be presented virtually using Knoxville based technology platform, Lunchpool. Startup Day is an annual “Shark-Tank”-style pitch competition for a chance to win up to $10,000 in cash prizes. Six of Knoxville’s most investable startups will pitch their businesses in front of a panel of expert judges. In addition to the opportunity to spotlight their startup for investors, entrepreneurs will compete for a “crowd favorite” cash prize presented by BB&T and SunTrust Bank, now Truist.

Added to the Startup Day program this year is a special award and recognition of startups and inventors that have made a positive impact on the fight against COVID-19, presented by Verizon.

To learn more about Innov865 Week visit The event calendar will be updated as events are added.


Innov865 Week is a weeklong celebration of Knoxville’s entrepreneurial spirit that brings together startups, entrepreneurs, makers, investors, business leaders, students, and community leaders from across East Tennessee for a week of educational panels, pitch competitions, investor roundtables, and social events. It is presented by the Innov865 Alliance, a coalition that develops, supports, and promotes the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Founding members of the Innov865 Alliance include the University of Tennessee Research Foundation, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, PYA, UT’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Three Roots Capital, Tennessee Valley Authority, Launch Tennessee, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm, and Bunker Labs Knoxville. To learn more, visit


EDP Biotech taking reservations for COVID-19 antibody testing

EDP Biotech has been busy since the company took the stage at Startup Day 2019, by now offering COVID-19 antibody testing.

You likely remember Eric Mayer, as he is the CEO of EDP Biotech, a medical device company whose mission is the development and commercialization of in-vitro diagnostic tests that detect disease early. EDP’s platform technology utilizes machine learning and multiplexing to simultaneously measure numerous proteins from a single blood draw.

EDP was planning on launching its first multi-marker blood test from the platform, ColoPlex™, used in the early detection of colorectal cancer and presenting some new data at upcoming conferences when the coronavirus hit.

Facing uncertainty and the added stress of finding out some of his own family members were diagnosed with the coronavirus, Mayer dedicated himself to learning as much as possible. In conversations with doctors across the state, he recognized the need for widespread antibody testing.

EDP’s facility and lab was recently added as one of a few entities on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website as a commercial testing lab and manufacturer of COVID-19 serology (antibody) tests.

With this announcement, EDP has started developing the tools needed to build, scale and validate tests here in Tennessee. The company is also hiring medical technicians to be able to deliver testing services to Tennessee as the economy reopens.

EDP has begun performing a modest 100 antibody tests a day for researchers, with the hopes of potentially performing three to four thousand tests a day for patients across Tennessee pending further regulatory approvals.

The company has since opened its CLIA laboratory, and they can now begin taking reservations for COVID-19 antibody testing. You can browse through their website for antibody test facts and other important details.

Once the test has received its final FDA authorization, EDP will contact you directly with next steps to finish your test order and receive your at-home finger stick blood collection kit in the mail.’s “Investor Outlook” series interviews local investors, highlights value of Tennessee’s entrepreneurial ecosystem

A recent multi-part “Investor Outlook” series from featured panel interviews with local investors, where they assess the “then” and “now” of a variety of topics, including the overall quality of startups and the availability of early stage capital.

According to Tom Ballard, PYA’s Chief Alliance Officer and Editor of, “We’ve just entered a new decade with arguably some of the most sustained economic growth and lowest unemployment rates in our nation’s history. An important part of that growth has come from new startups, and the state of Tennessee has clearly been part of that entrepreneurial wave over the last 10 years.”

Panelists include: Eric Dobson, Chief Executive Officer of Angel Capital Group; Tony Lettich, Managing Director of The Angel Roundtable; Charlie Brock, Partner of Chattanooga Renaissance Fund; Brandon Bruce, Entrepreneur-in-Residence with Greater Sum Ventures; Ken Woody, President and Partner of Innova Memphis; Kristina Montague, Managing Partner of The JumpFund; John Morris and Geoff Robson, Fund Managers at The Lighthouse Fund; John Bruck, Knoxville-based Member, and Scott Jacobs, Executive Director, of Queen City Angels (QCA); and Grady Vanderhoofven, Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Three Roots Capital. 

Read each part in the series here:

As the Innov865 Alliance develops, supports, and promotes the Knoxville region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, we champion Knoxville as a great place for entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses and increase access to capital. The work of investors featured in this series reaffirms this mission.

TennesSeed Fund, a new evergreen, seed-stage venture capital fund, seeks to invest in Tennessee startups

The TennesSeed Fund, an evergreen, seed-stage, proof of concept venture capital fund has launched to invest in companies throughout Tennessee. The Fund is managed by TennesSeed Partners, which is a collaboration of Three Roots Capital, Meritus Capital, and Innova Memphis, Inc. To date, the Fund has made three investments in Active Energy Systems (Oak Ridge), Entac Medical (Memphis) and SmartRIA (Knoxville).

The Fund’s unique model — consisting of for-profit (“TennesSeed Partners, LLC”) and nonprofit (“TennesSeed Funders 501(c)3”) entities — allows it to operate as an evergreen investor to sustain ongoing investment activity and lasting economic impact within the state. Grady Vanderhoofven, the founder, president and chief executive officer of Three Roots Capital, and Ken Woody, the president, partner and founder of Innova Memphis, serve as the Fund’s co-managers, directors and investment team members.

With more than 18 years of investment experience in the state and region, Vanderhoofven and Woody formed the TennesSeed Fund to address a growing need for seed-stage capital in the region. In addition to forming and partially capitalizing the Fund, the duo have engaged several noteworthy and successful Tennessee entrepreneurs to serve as mentors for TennesSeed portfoliocompanies; Bill Malkes, co-founder and former CEO of GRIDSMART Technologies, Chad Seaver, founder and CEO of Arkis Biosciences, and Brandon Bruce, co-founder and former COO of Cirrus Insight. Each of the executives recently led his respective company through a successful acquisition by a larger company.

“Tennessee is home to world-renowned technology resources and research institutions, as well as numerous entrepreneurs who have created businesses in their basements and garages,” said Vanderhoofven. “In our early research and planning to launch the TennesSeed Fund, we surveyed stakeholders statewide and confirmed a dire and chronic need for more capital to support young, small, and start-up companies. TennesSeed Fund is an answer to the question of how do we increase entrepreneurial activity and capital attraction in the state.” 

“Our evergreen structure allows for the permanent, ongoing cycle of fundraising, investments, and successful investment outcomes, which hopefully will have direct and lasting economic benefits throughout the state,” said Woody. He added, “Anyone who wants to support entrepreneurship, technology commercialization, and access to capital for young companies in Tennessee should find the TennesSeed model innovative and compelling.”

The Fund does not have a specific industry or technology focus, allowing it to invest in a variety of Tennessee-based companies and help them achieve specific, well-defined milestones to substantially de-risk future investment and increase the value of the company.

“Our relationship with the TennesSeed Fund has been great timing for us. They provided the right advice at the right time and funds just when we needed them to secure our intellectual property claims,” said Active Energy Systems Co-Founder Mitchell Ishmael. “This investment and relationship has been immensely valuable for us.”

“As a startup in Tennessee, we’re delighted that they put the TennesSeed Fund together for Tennessee startups because access to capital is our primary issue in the region,” said Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Entac Medical Buddy Lyons. “There are great ideas and technology here, but it’s all about finding access to the right capital to move companies forward. The TennesSeed Fund is going to be part of the solution.”

“There has been a lack of capital in the Knoxville region for software companies like ours, which is why the TennesSeed Fund coming in and being willing to provide capital is a pretty big deal,”said SmartRIA CEO Mac Bartine. “The entire team at the TennesSeed Fund was excellent and easy to work with. The capital they provided was a large part of the growth capital that we have used this year, and we’ve used it to grow almost 10 percent month over month so far.”

Local startup wins $10,000, mayoral candidates face off at 2019 Startup Day

The Knoxville community packed the house at The Mill & Mine on Tuesday for a lively celebration of local inventors and innovation at the seventh annual Startup Day, the signature event of Innov865 Week.

The festivities kicked off with the first head-to-head matchup of the general election between Knoxville’s mayoral finalists, Eddie Mannis and Indya Kincannon. Moderated by WATE 6 On Your Side anchor Kristin Farley, the forum focused on the candidates’ plans to foster Knoxville’s growing entrepreneurship community and advance economic growth in the region. The candidates engaged in a lively debate about attracting innovators and new businesses to Knoxville, ideas for building a dedicated innovation district, ways to support minority-owned businesses, and pathways to ensuring Knoxville’s children and residents have access to the tools and technology necessary for economic opportunity.

At the annual pitch competition, local startup Winter Innovations was crowned 2019 Judge’s Choice winner as well as Crowd Favorite winner, an award sponsored by SunTrust Bank, and took home a combined cash prize of $10,000. This year’s pitch competition was the most competitive yet, as the Innov865 Alliance handpicked six local startups for their extraordinary potential and investability to participate in the “Shark Tank”-style pitch competition.

“SunTrust Bank is proud to support local entrepreneurs and invest in the future of our city and region,” said Harry Gross, Knoxville President of SunTrust Bank. “We join the Knoxville community in celebrating these startups and empowering new businesses and economic opportunity.”

Winter Innovations was named the winner in a fiercely competitive field of some of the area’s most investable startups, which included two software companies, two medical device companies, and two energy companies: Active Energy Systems, EDP Biotech, Reviewbox, SmartRIA, and TCPoly.

The entrepreneurs pitched their companies on-stage before a three-judge expert panel: Richard Dapaah, venture partner with FundRX and Knoxville Entrepreneur Center executive-in-residence; Sue Malone, president of Strategies for Small Business; and Ted Serbinski, Startup Day 2019’s featured guest and managing director of Techstars Mobility, an American seed accelerator with more than 1,900 companies in its portfolio that’s invested more than $6.2 billion in startups since 2006.

The day also featured fireside chat with President and CEO Kelly Tiller of Genera, a local startup affiliated with the University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF) that recently secured a $118 million investment for sustainable packaging and fiber products made from grass.

“Startup Day showcases the world-class technology and innovation happening right here in Knoxville, and importantly, rallies community leaders, officials, and citizens behind these entrepreneurs helping drive growth in our region,” said Maha Krishnamurthy, vice president of UTRF, a member of the Innov865 Alliance.

Innov865 Week continues this week with both public and invitation-only festivities including a reception with local startups and venture capitalists, happy hours, and networking opportunities with local startups and venture capitalists. On Thursday, September 26, all are invited to join two events: Innovation Crossroads Showcase, a celebration of Oak Ridge National Lab’s Innovation Crossroads graduates and showcase of the incoming cohort of new energy startups, and an Investor Series powered by Three Roots Capital with Bill Malkes, GRIDSMART co-founder and former CEO, and Grady Vanderhoofven, CEO of Three Roots Capital and Managing Partner of Meritus Capital, the lead investor in GRIDSMART. The events will be held at the Square Room at Cafe 4 at 4:00PM and 6:00PM, respectively. RSVP here for the Innovation Crossroads showcase and here for the Innov865 Investor Series. For a complete calendar of Innov865 happenings, go to

DO YOU KNOW … how some of our Innov865 Alliance members support entrepreneurship in Knoxville?

For the past few weeks, we have been featuring our valued Innov865 Alliance members as part of our DID YOU KNOW social media series. One of the main questions we asked each of our members was: “How does your organization promote entrepreneurship in Knoxville?” Here are some of their responses: 

Maha Krishnamurthy, Vice President

University of Tennessee Research Foundation 

“UTRF promotes the growth and success of entrepreneurs via various business support resources and services including: educational workshops, networking events, pitch competitions, mentorship, grant funding opportunities, and physical space in the UTRF Business Incubator.”

Dan Miller, Program Lead

Oak Ridge National Lab

“ORNL has a number of programs that startups can use to access lab resources at little or no cost. Many startups in East Tennessee have taken advantage of these programs.  Also, ORNL’s Innovation Crossroads program has recruited 16 high-tech entrepreneurs to-date to move to East Tennessee for two years to do collaborative work with ORNL R&D staff to commercialize energy and advanced manufacturing technologies.”

Jill Van Beke, Chief Program Officer

Launch Tennessee

“LaunchTN provides support and resources for other local entrepreneurial organizations, including the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center and the Innovation Crossroads program. We bring resources in five areas: capital, market access, commercialization, talent, and environment, complementing the work of Alliance members. Plus, we share the Tennessee entrepreneurial story nationwide, and we let innovators, investors, and ecosystem builders across the state — and beyond — know about the resources each of our partners offers.”

Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer

PYA is the most visible way we support the entrepreneurial community by publishing articles about local entrepreneurs, initiatives, and programs. It was launched January 23, 2012 and publishes almost daily other than holidays and around the end of each calendar year. Less known is the accounting work we do at PYA to help participants in ORNL’s Innovation Crossroads program and UT’s Vol Court program.”

Jim Biggs, Executive Director

Knoxville Entrepreneur Center

“KEC serves as the front door for entrepreneurs in our region, and a resource for anyone looking to start or grow a business here. Through programming, networking events and mentorship, we work to ensure that entrepreneurs have access to the talent, capital, and customers they need to succeed.” 

Lynn Youngs, Executive Director

UT Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

“Through our work on campus and beyond, we supply entrepreneurial talent to the ecosystem. We play a key role in supplying vetted startup companies to the region, and those student-created companies come with teams that help support the region at points beyond their initial startup.”

Thank you to all of our wonderful members! Come see us during Innov865 Week 2019 from September 23-27 — and don’t forget to register for Startup Day on September 24th at The Mill and Mine, starting at 2:00 p.m. ET!

Guest Blog: Genera to Host Fireside Chat at Startup Day 2019

By Genera 

Genera is excited to be celebrating entrepreneurial success with fellow East Tennesseans during the upcoming Innov865 Week, hosted by the Innov865 Alliance. Kelly Tiller, founder, president and CEO of Genera, will join a Fireside Chat as part of the Startup Day 2019 lineup on September 24th at Knoxville’s Mill & Mine.

The same mission drive that characterized Genera when it was founded out of the University of Tennessee Research Foundation more than a decade ago is even more pronounced today in its passion for delivering sustainability improvements to the marketplace while making positive impacts in rural communities.

Genera made local and industry news recently, announcing new private investment totaling more than $118 million for a manufacturing facility in Vonore where it will produce its Earthable® line of sustainable agricultural fiber products. Partnering with local farmers, Genera’s new Vonore facility will convert grasses and other locally sourced fiber crops into compostable food service packaging products like plates, bowls, and takeout containers.

Asked about the Company’s East Tennessee roots, Tiller said, “East Tennessee is the ideal place for us to develop our first large-scale manufacturing project. We have purposely built our business around existing assets and competitive advantages we find in East Tennessee:

  • An abundance of lower-productivity and underutilized farmland;
  • Innovative farmers willing to pioneer new crops and sustainable production systems;
  • Existing legacy manufacturing assets;
  • A competitive labor market;
  • Expanding technical training programs boosting workforce skills and experience;
  • World-class research programs at the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, particularly in agriculture and biosystems, lignin chemistry, bio-based products and materials, and additive manufacturing;
  • Supportive local officials and economic development professionals helping pave the way for continued investment and growth; and
  • A strategic and connected location allowing us to easily service our nation-wide customer base.”

During the Fireside Chat, Dr. Tiller will share some of the lessons Genera has learned firsthand over the last decade and discuss the growing momentum positioning Knoxville area startups for continued success. Speaking about the annual networking event and celebration of local entrepreneurship, Tiller says, “It’s a great opportunity to learn from each other. We’re excited to share our experiences developing a fully integrated, sustainable farm-to-finished product solution that has attracted well-aligned investments to the place we’re proud to call home.”

Knoxville’s annual entrepreneurship festival to feature mayoral forum, pitch competition, and the area’s top innovators

Discover the trailblazers and innovators behind Knoxville’s growing startup community during 2019 Innov865 Week, coming up September 23 – 27, 2019. The annual entrepreneurship festival, hosted by the Innov865 Alliance, spotlights Knoxville as a great place to start and grow businesses and connects the entrepreneurs planting roots here with support systems to succeed.

Innov865 Week boasts a range of events for everyone in the community to support local economic development, from investors and regional entrepreneurs to community leaders and students. “Entrepreneurship is essential to the success of our community,” said Tom Rogers, president and CEO of the UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm and founding member of the Innov865 Alliance. “When we invest in building a supportive, high-growth ecosystem for aspiring and mature startups to grow their businesses here, everyone in Knoxville benefits.”

This year’s featured guest is Ted Serbinski, the managing director of Techstars Mobility, the first U.S. startup accelerator program focused on next-generation mobility technologies. Techstars is an American seed accelerator with more than 1,900 companies in its portfolio and has invested $6.2 billion in startups since 2006. Serbinski is a founding member and former partner of Detroit Venture Partners, a $55 million seed-stage fund that has invested in more than 25 companies. 

The week’s premier event is Startup Day, Tuesday, September 24, at the Mill & Mine in downtown Knoxville. This year’s festivities are bigger than ever: a mayoral forum moderated by WATE 6 On Your Side is planned, where the two candidates competing in the November general election to become Knoxville’s next mayor will present their vision for entrepreneurship and innovation. Other activities include a fireside chat with Genera, a local startup affiliated with the University of Tennessee Research Foundation that recently secured a $118 million investment for sustainable packaging and fiber products made from grass. 

Startup Day’s main event is the annual “Shark-Tank”-style pitch competition for a chance to win up to $10,000 in cash prizes. This year, six of Knoxville’s most investable startups will pitch their businesses on-stage before a panel of expert judges. In addition to the opportunity to spotlight their startup for investors, entrepreneurs will compete for a “crowd favorite” cash prize presented by SunTrust Bank. The 2019 expert judges panel features Richard Dapaah, venture partner with FundRX and Knoxville Entrepreneur Center executive-in-residence; Sue Malone, president of Strategies for Small Business; and featured guest Ted Serbinski with Techstars.

The competing startups were hand-selected by the Innov865 Alliance for their extraordinary potential and investability. They are:

Active Energy – startup offering ultra-efficient, low-cost thermal energy storage utilizing the world’s first “icephobic coating,” a patent-pending invention that creates a surface impervious to freezing water, thus improving cooling performance by completely eliminating ice build-up.

Cofounder: Mitchell Ishmael

EDP Biotech – medical device diagnostics company with novel platform technology enabling earlier detection of diseases such as colorectal cancer, using machine learning and multiplexing to perform more advanced and efficient blood tests.

CEO: Eric Mayer

Reviewbox – e-commerce software platform that enables brands and manufacturers to track product reviews and sales data across online retail sites like Amazon, providing visibility into every aspect of an e-commerce business and connecting companies directly with their customers.

Founder and CEO: Jim Horey

SmartRIA – software platform with proprietary technology that simplifies compliance for investment advisors, saving firms and hybrid firms time and money in maintaining compliance with federal and state regulations.

CEO: Mac Bartine

TCPoly – 3D printing company developing advanced materials and technology, including the world’s highest thermal conductivity filament (50x higher than traditional plastics). When combined with the design freedom of 3D printing, can be used to make lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and high-performance heat transfer components.

Cofounder and CEO: Matt Smith 

Winter Innovations – medical device company inventing novel orthopedic surgical tools that improve patient outcomes in high-risk procedures, such as the EasyWhipTM specialty needle that improves the stability, speed, and efficiency of graft stitching, a critical component of surgery for torn ligaments and tendons. 

Founder: Lia Winter

Startup Day is free and open to the public; doors will open at 1:30pm. Tickets are available now online.

In addition to Startup Day, Innov865 Week is full of both public and invitation-only festivities including a reception with local startups and venture capitalists; an Investor Series with GRIDSMART founder and CEO Bill Malkes; investor speed pitching; a celebration of Oak Ridge National Lab’s Innovation Crossroads graduates and incoming cohort of new energy startups; and frequent happy hours and networking opportunities. 

To learn more about the week’s events and details, visit This calendar will be updated as events are added throughout the week.

Vote for your favorite Knoxville startup in the LaunchTN Pitch Competition at 36|86

Have you cast your vote for the Crowd Favorite Award from the list of finalists for the LaunchTN Pitch Competition at the 36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival yet? Two Knoxville-based startups, Nth Cycle and StoragePug, are eligible to win — so start voting today!

The Crowd Favorite Award provides competing startups a chance to win $10,000 to invest in their business. Live poll results will appear on LaunchTN’s website until Aug. 12. Voting will end Aug. 29 at 12p.m. CT, one hour before the pitch competition starts. The winner will be announced at the end of the competition. 

Learn more about these Knoxville-based startups below and don’t forget to cast your vote for the $10,000 Crowd Favorite Award: 

  • Nth Cycle: Megan O’Connor, the CEO and co-founder, developed an electrochemical recycling device to recover rare earth and specialty elements (i.e., cobalt) from end-of-life electronics waste streams for reuse in advanced manufacturing. 
  • StoragePug: Tommy Nguyen, the co-founder and COO, created his software company to help self-storage facilities raise their visibility and attract customers with marketing and web tools. The software connects customers to self storage through online rentals, bill pay and digital lease signing.

Nth Cycle and StoragePug competed in the Innov865 Startup Day pitch competition in 2018. Click here to register for Startup Day 2019, held at the Mill & Mine on September 24.

Guest Blog: Bunker Labs as a Member of The Innov865 Alliance

By: Derren Burrell, Bunker Labs Knoxville

Bunker Labs Knoxville is proud to be a part of The Innov865 Alliance, and we’re committed to building up the entrepreneurial ecosystem in and around our community.  Some of you may have never heard about Bunker Labs, and we wanted to introduce you to this relatively new and growing community of military entrepreneurs!

Bunker Labs – a 501(c)(3) non-profit – is a national network of veteran entrepreneurs dedicated to helping new veteran entrepreneurs start their own business. We are committed to seeing that every entrepreneur in the veteran community has the network, tools, and resources they need to start their own business.  The Knoxville Chapter has been in operation for a year and a half, and we are excited to take the chapter to the next level as part of The Alliance.

25% of transitioning service members want to start a business and they need places inside their community where they can connect with the people, resources, and support they need to start and grow their businesses. A very small percentage of transitioning members (about 6%) actually start businesses, and two of the main limiting factors are 1) access to capital, and 2) lack of a strong business network.  Bunker Labs seeks to bridge this gap by creating an environment in which veterans are able to interact with successful business leaders within their prospective communities. The Knoxville Chapter is a part of a nationwide, 25-city network that seeks to be within all 50 states over the next 3 years. Here are some of the national statistics of Bunker labs in the 5 years since its founding:

  • $117,436,328 Revenue generated by participating startups (excludes companies which individually generated more than $10 million in revenue)
  • 3,648 New business connections made through Bunker Labs
  • 1,954 Jobs created by participating startups
  • $80,120,447 Capital raised by participating startups
  • 1,012 Startups that have completed Bunker Labs programs 
  • 1,002 Jobs created for military veterans

Our core pillars and what we do can be summed up in three words: Inspire, Equip, and Connect.

Inspire. One of the many reasons why more veterans are not becoming entrepreneurs is that they don’t know all of the options available to them. After World War II and Vietnam, veterans returned home and started everything from shoe companies (Nike) to shipping companies (FedEx). Veterans today are just as ambitious and innovative in entrepreneurship but their stories aren’t being told. We want to find and tell their stories.

Equip. Bunker Labs was started by veterans who got out of the military and started their own businesses. As such we understand the unique challenges associated with the transition process combined with the difficulty of starting a business. We have compiled and curated the best entrepreneurial training from the brightest minds in the field into three distinct phases of entrepreneurship.

Connect. Whether you are exploring a new career path after active duty service, starting a business or growing your business—building your network is critical. Bunker Labs invites veterans, business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, and subject matter experts to get plugged into their local entrepreneurial ecosystem through our monthly Bunker Brews meetups.

This mission aligns perfectly with The Alliance, as both believe that entrepreneurship is essential to the success of our community. The Innov865 Alliance develops, supports, and promotes the Knoxville region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. It is a collaborative effort to celebrate and showcase Knoxville as a great place for entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses and increase access to capital.  Bunker Labs Knoxville mirrors this same collaborative nature, choosing to hone in on the military veteran demographic.  

The veteran entrepreneur is fast becoming a powerful force across the nation, and we want to see this same phenomenon take root in Knoxville.  Tennessee is a magnet for veterans, ranking in the top echelon in places for service members to retire and begin their life after the military.  We at Bunker Labs believe that Knoxville’s entrepreneurial future is incredibly bright, and as a member of The Alliance we will continue to pour our efforts and resources to help this vision become a reality!