Judges for 2018 Startup Day Pitch Competition revealed

The Innov865 Alliance has selected three judges to take the stage on Startup Day 2018 to listen and decide which of the six startups competing will win the Startup Day 2018 Judge’s Choice Prize, presented by the Innov865 Alliance.

The winners of the pitch competition 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.

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.

The judges include:

Eric Meyerson, Head of Marketing at Sensai

Eric Meyerson is head of marketing for Sensai, a new startup that gives businesses, creators, and artists the power to transform their online influence with the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Eric is also former marketing executive at Facebook, YouTube, and Eventbrite, and he earned his MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC-Berkeley. Click here for more information.

Sue Malone, President of Strategies for Small Business

Sue is the number one provider, SBA Export Express and SBA SLA v.2 and director of marketing for Superior Financial Group.  Sue’s involvement began with the program’s inception in 2002. Since then, Sue has helped fund over 41,000 SBA loans, which include Patriot Express loans, Export Express, Community Express and now Small Lender Advantage v.2 and became the largest SBA lender by volume.  Her goal is to fund 100,000 small businesses. Sue is a serial entrepreneur and has started over seven businesses. She holds an MBA from St. Mary’s College. Click here for more information.

Mike Stephens, Chief Integrations Officer at Ministry Brands

Mike has been operating in healthcare finance since 2001, with 10 years of experience as a CFO in hospitals across the country, both in the for-profit and not-for-profit space. Mike has led turnarounds with teams in 5 different hospitals that have cumulatively achieved over $200 million in EBITDA improvements under his guidance; with the majority of this performance occurring thru revenue growth. His most recent opportunity as CFO of NCH Healthcare System in Naples, FL, went from a negative operating margin of $ (5.6 Million) in 2013 to projecting a $45 Million margin in 2015. Click here for more information.

Six finalists to compete for $10,000 at Startup Day 2018, Traction Award nominees announced

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.

Venture For America CEO Amy Nelson to headline Startup Day 2018

Venture For America CEO Amy Nelson will be the featured speaker for Innov865 Week’s Startup Day 2018. Venture For America is a nonprofit fellowship program that connects recent college graduates with jobs at startups, forging a community of entrepreneurs committed to building companies that matter and creating economic opportunity in American cities.

“Knoxville has a growing reputation for innovation and entrepreneurship that I’m excited to witness firsthand,” Nelson said. “Venture For America exists to help lower the barriers to building a company for aspiring entrepreneurs. I’m looking forward to seeing how the Knoxville community is building a supportive, high-growth ecosystem for budding entrepreneurs.”

Innov865 Week offers a prime opportunity to showcase Knoxville and its growing entrepreneurial community for Nelson and Venture For America, which is scouting new cities in which to expand and invest. Venture For America trains and connects its Fellows with full-time jobs at early stage companies in cities with emerging entrepreneurial ecosystems. This influx of talent bolsters local entrepreneurship and contributes to lasting economic growth as Fellows become part of a new community.

As CEO of Venture For America, Nelson focuses on supporting aspiring young entrepreneurs and creating a pathway to entrepreneurship for all. Prior to joining VFA, Nelson was an integral part of the team at B Lab, where she helped launch B Analytics, the leading data platform for impact investors. She earned her MBA at NYU’s Stern School of Business and holds degrees in philosophy and government from Claremont McKenna College. After college, she helped grow highly-innovative international development organizations in Cameroon and Cambodia. Nelson currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.

Startup Day 2018 will take place Tuesday, September 25 at The Mill & Mine in downtown Knoxville. Startup Day will feature a pitch competition, where six East Tennessee startups will be selected to pitch their businesses and compete to win up to $10,000 in cash prizes. The Startup Day pitch competition is the signature event of Innov865 Week, an annual celebration of Knoxville’s entrepreneurial community, held this year September 23-28, 2018.

Nelson will speak before the hundreds of entrepreneurs, startups, business leaders, investors, community leaders and students who attend Innov865 Week each year. This year’s event features a packed week of investor roundtables, educational panels, demo days, and networking.

Startup Day 2018 is free and open to the public. Register today, click here.