The Innov865 Alliance has selected six East Tennessee startups as pitch competition finalists and three Traction Award nominees for Startup Day 2018. The winners of the pitch competition and Traction Award will be announced on Sept. 25 during the signature event of Innov865 Week, an annual celebration of Knoxville’s thriving entrepreneurial community held this year Sept. 23-28, 2018.
The six startups were selected from a large pool of applicants for the chance to pitch their businesses before a panel of judges at Startup Day’s pitch competition. The finalists will compete in two prize categories, judges’ choice and crowd favorite, for the chance to win a total of $10,000 in cash prizes to invest in their startup. The crowd favorite prize is sponsored by SunTrust Bank.
The Traction Award, sponsored by UT Federal Credit Union, is presented annually to the Startup Day alum who has made the most progress – or gained the most “traction” – since pitching their company at Startup Day in years past.
The 2017 Innov865 Traction Award winner was RDI Technologies, which offers video camera-based technology to find faults in machinery, infrastructure and human performance not visible to the human eye. Its clients include Fortune100 companies such as Honda, Nissan, Dow Chemical and Shell Oil.
Startup Day 2018 is Sept. 25 from 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. at The Mill & Mine in downtown Knoxville. Doors will open at 1:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, and registration is now open online. In addition to the pitch competition and Traction Award announcement, Venture For America’s Amy Nelson will give the keynote address on her experience supporting startups and entrepreneurs.
The Innov865 Alliance has selected the following six finalists to compete in the pitch competition:
David Nelson, BrewFund, Inc.
BrewFund, Inc. creates a new revenue stream for craft beer taprooms through an innovative engagement platform that enables digital gifting, manages loyalty clubs, and provides sales and marketing data.
Alex Adams, GeoAir
GeoAir is a proactive agricultural analysis company that seeks to make farmers more efficient and profitable, utilizing a custom-developed drone to pinpoint and identify mold in fields. GeoAir allows farmers the opportunity to spot treat and manage the mold before damage occurs to the crop.
Shane McMahon, Lux Semiconductors
Lux Semiconductors is an advanced-tech startup developing high-quality and low-cost semiconductor substrates for the rapidly evolving electronics industry. Lux aims to deliver a new class of flexible semiconductor substrates to serve as the next generation platform and replace the thick, fragile, expensive class currently in use.
Megan O’Connor, Nth Cycle
Nth Cycle has developed an electrochemical recycling device to recover rare earth and specialty elements from end-of-life electronics waste streams for reuse in advanced manufacturing.
Bailey Foster, Real Good Kitchen
Real Good Kitchen is a community kitchen and culinary incubator planned to open in Knoxville in 2019. It provides high quality, shared commercial kitchen and storage space, as well as industry-specific technical assistance and business development resources, to established and emerging food entrepreneurs.
Tommy Nguyen, StoragePug
StoragePug is a modern marketing company for self storage. Powered by scalable cloud and serverless computing, StoragePug creates intelligent marketing websites that connect customers to self storage through online rentals, bill pay, and lease eSign.
The Innov865 Alliance has selected the following nominees for the 2018 Traction Award:
Courtney Jones, MomSource Network
Courtney Jones is the CEO of MomSource Network, an organization dedicated to creating diverse and inclusive workplaces through targeted diversity recruiting efforts enterprise Returnship and Trailing Spouse programs. A passionate advocate for gender diversity and a recognized thought leader on topics related to women in business, D&I and work-life blend; she’s been featured in Bloomberg, CNN, and Working Mother and has worked alongside hundreds of companies to create meaningful opportunities for women.
Mac Bartine, Smart RIA
Mac Bartine is the CEO of Smart RIA, a software platform that simplifies compliance for the Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) industry, which is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Under Mac’s leadership, Smart RIA has grown more than 13 percent month over month since January of 2017, which was its second full year of revenue, and is on track to expand internationally and exceed $1 million in leading annual sales in 2019.
Graham Taylor, T&T Scientific
Graham Taylor is president and CTO of T&T Scientific, a company that produces low-cost, single use liposome extrusion devices that simplify the process of preparing liposomes for research laboratories, manufacturing facilities, and clinical settings. Compared to other commercially available extrusion platforms, T&T Scientific’s NanoSizerTM technology is ready to use out of the package and does not require any assembly or cleaning, enabling a more efficient process and lowering the risk of contamination.