LaunchTN Startup Policy Workshop: Knoxville

Join LaunchTN for a workshop to learn from industry experts on navigating government-business issues and meet with policymakers!

RSVP Here!

Join LaunchTN and our partners at the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center for a workshop focused on startup policy. You’ll get an overview of what qualifies as a local, state, or federal issue; learn how to engage with policymakers to advocate for your business; and meet with regional policymakers to tell your story.

1 p.m.  Introductions: What do you hope to gain from today?

1:15 p.m. – Issues identification: What challenges can policy help solve? What level of government do these issues relate to?

2 p.m. – How to engage: What do you do when you’ve got a policymaker’s ear?

2:45 p.m. – Break

3 p.m. – Policymaker roundtables: Small group discussions with regional policymakers, rotating every 20 minutes.

4 p.m. – Closing remarks

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.

SBIR Lunch and Learn

Ready to move your research from the lab to the marketplace? Want to learn more about how federal research grants can help you get there?

The Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) program is a highly competitive federal program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in research and development that has the potential for commercialization. Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization.

As part of LaunchTN’s SBIR Road Tour, we’re hosting in-person lunch and learns with panels of experienced SBIR/STTR winners and grant writers in local markets across Tennessee. Learn from those who have done it successfully.

Questions? Contact allie@launchtn.org.

Register here!

Haslams have engaging fireside chat during “36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival”

(Originally published on Teknovation.biz)

Those who attended last year’s “36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival” in Nashville were impressed with the way in which Governor Bill Haslam moderated a fireside chat with FedEx Founder Fred Smith.

On Wednesday afternoon, Tennessee’s outgoing Chief Executive Officer (CEO) was up for an even greater challenge . . . moderating a fireside chat with another legend, in this case his father who founded Pilot Flying J Corporation 60 years ago. “Big Jim” Haslam, as he is affectionately known by many, and his youngest son had a humorous, insightful conversation that drew laughs and applause from an appreciative crowd at the Wild Horse Saloon.

The discussion over about a 45-minute period covered everything from the history of Pilot, founded as a single gas station, through the more recent acquisition of a minority stake by noted investor Warren Buffet and ended with  the senior Haslam’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs.

The first station was opened the year the Governor was born. As “Big Jim” explained that period, he needed a job and was offered one as a high school coach but the salary would not begin for several months. He needed income then. As he looked around, the elder Haslam was offered a job selling ads for a local television station.

“I was not sure TV was going to make it,” he said laughingly.

By 1964-65, Pilot had grown to 12 stations, and Haslam sold one-half of the company to Marathon Oil Corporation, a transaction that provided expansion capital. In 1988, Pilot repurchased the stake held by Marathon, only to bring the corporation back as a partial owner in 2001 and again repurchase that interest in 2008.

Read more here.