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.”

Fifth Annual Startup Day Celebrates Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Knoxville

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – 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 Thursday, September 21, 2017 for the fifth annual Startup Day. The event is part of Innov865 Week 2017, which celebrates and showcases Knoxville as a great place to start and grow businesses.

New this year, the Startup Day pitch competition featured two prize categories. Mac Bartine, Smart RIA received the $10,000 Startup Day 2017 Judge’s Choice Prize presented by the Innov865 Alliance. Anna Douglas, SkyNano Technologies received the $5,000 Startup Day 2017 Crowd Favorite Prize presented by SunTrust Bank. The winning pitches were among six startups participating in the fifth annual pitch competition.

“East Tennessee is rapidly gaining traction as a destination for startups and entrepreneurs in the Southeast,” said Stacey Patterson, President of the University of Tennessee Research Foundation and founding member of the Innov865 Alliance, which hosts Innov865 Week. “Startup Day provides an opportunity for us to demonstrate what makes Knoxville such an inviting place to start and grow a business, as well as celebrate the entrepreneurs who are putting our city on the map as a hub of innovation.”

Mac Bartine, Smart RIA Smart RIA is a cloud-based, secure software platform that simplifies and automates regulatory compliance for the registered investment advisor (RIA) industry, serving firms that are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Compliance management can be a costly and time-consuming task for businesses, especially those that do not have in-house expertise. Smart RIA’s software streamlines the process through customized tools that use customer data to track and address compliance issues. This solution not only saves customers time and money, but allows them to focus on growing their business while remaining compliant and independent. 

Anna Douglas, SkyNano Technologies SkyNano Technologies has developed an open system manufacturing technique to produce low cost, high value carbon nanotubes, a material with potential applications in a variety of areas from energy storage to consumer electronics. Compared to traditional manufacturing processes that require high vacuum and high pressure gas flow systems, SkyNano’s patent-pending technology relies on the electrochemical conversion of carbon dioxide, resulting in a process that is lower in cost and scalable for commercial applications. Aside from lowering the cost of carbon nanotubes, SkyNano’s technique offers a promising method for converting atmospheric carbon dioxide into useful functional nanomaterials.

Jenna Johns, Chief Operating Officer of RDI Technologies, a Startup Day 2015 alum, received the third annual Innov865 Traction Award, presented by UT Federal Credit Union. The Innov865 Traction Award is given to a Startup alum who has gained the most momentum since pitching at Startup Day. RDI’s video camera-based technology quickly determines faults in machinery, infrastructure, and human performance not visible to the human eye. RDI counts Fortune 100 companies as its customers including Honda, Dow Chemical and Shell Oil.

Another highlight of this year’s Startup Day was a fireside chat hosted by Charlie Brock, CEO of Launch Tennessee and Mark Montgomery, Entrepreneur/Investor/Change Agent. The two featured speakers held a lively discussion on the state of Tennessee’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Startup Day is the signature event of Innov865 Week 2017, which wraps up today. Throughout the week more than one thousand startups, entrepreneurs, makers, investors, business leaders, students, and community leaders from across East Tennessee participated in educational panels, investor roundtables, demo days, and networking opportunities that promoted Knoxville as a premier hub of innovation and entrepreneurship in the Southeast.

About Startup Day

Startup Day is the signature event of Innov865 Week, a weeklong series of events that celebrates Knoxville’s entrepreneurial spirit. It is presented by the Innov865 Alliance, a brand that represents a commitment to yearlong collaboration to develop, support, and promote 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, and Knoxville Entrepreneur Center. To learn more, visit http://innov865.com/.

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The JumpFund hosting invitation only event on angel investing during “Innov865 Week”

(Note: This article was originally published on Teknovation.biz)

One of the topics you always hear whenever start-up entrepreneurs gather is the matter of available investment capital, and that’s certainly the case in Knoxville. While it’s not the only area where more “players” are needed, it is certainly an important one, and early stage funding is particularly critical for new ventures.

With an eye toward getting more people off the sidelines and in the game, The JumpFund, a Chattanooga-based angel fund that invests in female-led ventures throughout the Southeast, will be hosting an “invitation only” discussion on September 21 as part of “Innov865 Week.”

It’s the second year in a row that The JumpFund has held an event ahead of Knoxville’s “Start-up Day” which occurs that afternoon.

“It’s not just about our funds,” Melissa Aldridge, Managing Director, told us. “It is a little bit of Angel 101. We will provide some basic overview education on angel investing and venture funds and information about the success of the JumpFund.”

Read the full article here.

Application extended for the 2017 Startup Day Pitch Competition

Knoxville, Tenn.– Applications are now being extended for Innov865 Week’s Startup Day 2017 pitch competition. The event will feature six East Tennessee startups pitching their businesses for a chance to win up to $15,000 in cash prizes. This is the fifth Startup Day pitch competition and the signature event of the second annual Innov865 Week, a celebration of Knoxville’s vibrant entrepreneurial community, September 18-22, 2017.

“Knoxville is quickly earning a reputation as one of the best locations in the Southeast for entrepreneurs to start and grow a business,” said Tom Ballard, Pershing Yoakley & Associates (PYA). PYA is a founding member of the Innov865 Alliance. “Innov865 Week is our opportunity to showcase our city and region as a hub of innovation and talent.”

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/pitch-competition/. Applications will be accepted from June 16 through July 10, 2017. The Innov865 Alliance will review applications and select six startups to participate. Applicants will be notified of the Alliance’s decision no later than July 17, 2017.

Startup Day 2017 is Thursday, September 21, 2017 at the U.S. Cellular Stage at The Bijou Theatre.

New this year, the Startup Day pitch competition will feature two prize categories: judges’ choice and crowd favorite. Competitors will have an opportunity to win up to $15,000. T&T Scientific claimed the winning prize during Startup Day 2016.

In addition, the Innov865 Traction Award presented by UT Federal Credit Union will return this year recognizing a Startup Day alum who has made the most progress.

Innov865 Week 2017 promises another packed week of educational panels, investor roundtables, demo days, and networking opportunities. The week will kick-off on Monday with Future865, an event that will explore opportunities to help Knoxville leverage its many assets – social, cultural, and technical – to become THE destination for entrepreneurs in the Southeast. Other scheduled activities include a technology showcase hosted by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee Research Foundation; The Works hosted by the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center; the return of the Maker Summit and Elev865, an exclusive networking event for business leaders and entrepreneurs; and the roll-out of Olli, a self-driving, fully electric vehicle that was created and manufactured by Local Motors, a Knoxville-based company that designs and builds innovative motor vehicles.

The inaugural Innov865 Week in 2016 was a wild success, featuring 25 events and drawing more than 1,400 startups, entrepreneurs, makers, investors, business leaders, students, and community leaders from across East Tennessee.

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 Laboratory, PYA, UT’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Three Roots Capital, Launch Tennessee, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center and TVA.

For more information, visit: www.innov865.com

Knoxville Showcases its Entrepreneurial Spirit at Startup Day 2016

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 Thursday, September 22, 2016 for the fourth annual Startup Day. The event is part of Innov865 Week, which celebrates and showcases Knoxville as a great place to start and grow businesses.

Graham Taylor, T&T Scientific won the pitch competition and was awarded $5,000 from sponsors Three Roots Capital and SouthEast Bank. T&T Scientific was one of six startups participating in the pitch competition this year.

Graham Taylor, co-founder of T&T Scientific, created LipX, a time-saving, single use extrusion device that researchers can use to prepare liposomes for use in a wide range of research applications. Unlike the gold standard device which requires 45-60 minutes to assemble and clean with each use, LipX is ready to use out of the package and does not require the use of harsh chemicals for cleaning.

Bob Bradley, President and CEO of NewsBreak and Startup Day 2014 alum, received the second annual Traction Award, presented by UT Federal Credit Union. The Traction Award is given to a Startup alum who has gained the most momentum in the past three years. Launched in 2009, NewsBreak is a programmatic merchandising platform that converts fuel-only customers to multi-product purchasers.

Startup Day also featured Paul Singh, nationally recognized serial entrepreneur and seed stage investor, who came to Knoxville as part of his North American Tech Tour. Aside from being a featured guest at Startup Day, Paul held one-on-one consultations with a lucky few Knoxville-area startups to gain a better understanding of Knoxville’s entrepreneurial landscape and identify potential investment opportunities.

“I continue to be amazed and inspired by the entrepreneurial talent we have here in Knoxville,” said Stacey Patterson, Vice President of the University of Tennessee Research Foundation and founding member of the Innov865 Alliance, which hosts Innov865 Week. “Our region has a rich tradition of innovation, and Startup Day gives our entrepreneurs a platform to share their hard work and grow their businesses. The award winners and startup pitchers truly exemplify Knoxville’s entrepreneurial spirit.”

Startup Day was just one in a series of events held during Innov865 Week, which wraps up today. Throughout the week more than one thousand entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders, students and the East Tennessee community participated in educational panels, investor roundtables and social events that promoted entrepreneurship in Knoxville and the surrounding area.

About Startup Day

Startup Day is an annual event that showcases Knoxville as a destination for startups and entrepreneurs. The event is part of Innov865 Week which is organized by the members of the Innov865 Alliance: The University of Tennessee Research Foundation, Oak Ridge National Lab, Launch Tennessee, PYA, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, and The Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. http://innov865.com/

T&T Scientific Wins Startup Day 2016 Pitch Competition

Graham Taylor with T&T Scientific claimed the winning pitch prize during Startup Day 2016 on Thursday, September 22, 2016 on the U.S. Cellular Stage at The Bijou Theatre in Downtown Knoxville.

Graham Taylor, T&T Scientific received $5,000 from sponsors Three Roots Capital and SouthEast Bank. The winning pitch was one of six heard during the fourth annual Startup Day, which began offering prize money for a pitch winner in 2015.

“Graham Taylor exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit that defines Startup Day and makes Knoxville such a great place to grow a business. It is truly an honor to bestow this prize on T&T Scientific and I am excited to see where the future leads them,” said Monty Montgomery, President of SouthEast Bank.

Graham Taylor, co-founder of T&T Scientific, created LipX, a time-saving, single use extrusion device that researchers can use to prepare liposomes for use in a wide range of research applications. Unlike the gold standard device which requires 45-60 minutes to assemble and clean with each use, LipX is ready to use out of the package and does not require the use of harsh chemicals for cleaning.

Judges David Kereiakes, Senior Associate, River Cities Capital Funds; Sue Malone, President, Strategies for Small Businesses; and Tony Shipley, Chairman and Co-Founder, Queen City Angels, scored all presentations on a variety of criteria including value proposition, market and sales strategy, distinctive competence and growth potential.

“Startup Day’s Pitch Competition showcased some of the best entrepreneurial talent that East Tennessee has to offer,“ said Grady Vanderhoofven, President and CEO of Three Roots Capital and co-presenter of the $5,000 prize. “I commend all of the entrepreneurs for their hard work and vision, and look forward to seeing them grow their businesses.”

Startup Day 2016 featured Paul Singh, nationally recognized serial entrepreneur and seed stage investor, who came to Knoxville as part of his North American Tech Tour. The event also featured the awarding of the second annual Traction Award, sponsored by UT Federal Credit Union, which is presented to a Startup Day alum who has made the most progress over the past few years. Bob Bradley of NewsBreak was the 2016 recipient.

All six startups received a one-year subscription to FundingSages’ TurboFunder Platform, which provides entrepreneurs information, resources and tools to guide them through the creation and development of an investable company.

About Startup Day

Startup Day is an annual event that showcases Knoxville as a destination for startups and entrepreneurs. The event is part of Innov865 Week which is organized by the members of the Innov865 Alliance: The University of Tennessee Research Foundation, Oak Ridge National Lab, Launch Tennessee, PYA, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, and The Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. http://innov865week.com/event/startup-day-2016/

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NewsBreak Recipient of Startup Day’s 2nd Annual Traction Award, Presented by UT Federal Credit Union

NewsBreak, a programmatic merchandising platform launched in 2009 that converts fuel-only customers to multi-product purchasers, is the recipient of Startup Day 2016’s second annual Traction Award. Bob Bradley, President and CEO of NewsBreak, presented a Power Pitch during the second Startup Day in 2014. The announcement was made during the Startup Day program at the U.S. Cellular Stage at The Bijou Theatre in Downtown Knoxville.

Myra Hamilton, Assistant Vice President of Business Lending at UT Federal Credit Union, the sponsor of the award, presented it to Bradley during the Startup Day program in front of hundreds of business leaders, investors, and entrepreneurs in attendance.

“It is an honor to sponsor this award for the second year in a row and to bestow it on such a deserving recipient,” said Hamilton. “Bob Bradley has taken a local digital startup company and transformed it into a nationally recognized software company that is changing how retailers market products to consumers.”

NewsBreak is currently available across five states, with expected growth to reach 300 convenience stores by the end of this year, up from 88 locations at the end of 2014.  Earlier this year, NewsBreak opened its first site in the state of Utah through a strategic partnership with Sinclair Oil and Bennett Pump Company. The deal makes NewsBreak available to not only 1,400 Sinclair branded stations in 19 states, but the 6,000 fueling retailer locations across the U.S. that are currently served by the third largest fuel pump manufacturer in the world, Bennett Pump Company.

NewsBreak continues to enhance their software capabilities through the implementation of predictive marketing and dynamic data analytics. The development efforts are being led by Co-Founder & COO Brian Nelson, who has a background in statistical analytics and experimental psychology. The platform now utilizes historical sales and key consumer buying variable data, like unit sales, market basket, temperature, and household income to build contextual content management rules for each retail location. The content management system then delivers a relevant playlist of merchandising messages to pump-to TV and in-store screen networks. Once deployed, the software creates a feedback loop by continually updating new sales and consumer buying variable data to inform and adapt the contextual rules, resulting in adjustments to the playlist.

“I am humbled to be the 2016 recipient of the Traction Award,” said Bradley. “Startup Day provided a platform for NewsBreak’s success and growth over the last two years. I cannot think of a better place to start up a business or call home than East Tennessee.”

About Startup Day

Startup Day is an annual event that showcases Knoxville as a destination for startups and entrepreneurs. The event is part of Innov865 Week which is organized by members of the Innov865 Alliance: The University of Tennessee Research Foundation, Oak Ridge National Lab, Launch Tennessee, PYA, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, and The Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. http://innov865week.com/event/startup-day-2016/