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“What’s the Big Idea” starts 48-hour marathon Friday, finale on Sunday night

Big Idea 2016By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.

Knoxville’s revamped “What’s the Big Idea” launches its weekend marathon on Friday at 6 p.m. at the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC). Forty-eight hours later at 6 p.m. on Sunday, February 21, the six teams pitch their much refined ideas at Scruffy City Hall just across Market Square.

Up for grabs at the finale is as much as $10,000 for business launch expenses. More important, however, is the progress they are likely to make as a result of the resources the KEC and its partners will be bringing to the table.

“It is truly a program that couldn’t happen without the contributions of our partners, including the Knoxville Chamber and The Development Corporation of Knox County, as well as the community’s support through mentoring these companies,” KEC’s Emily Skaar said. She serves as the non-profit’s Director of Entrepreneurship and is the point person for the event.

“We have mentors ranging from accountants to software developers, all coming together to help six teams turn their ideas into reality in 48 hours,” she added. “To me, there is no clearer example of how powerful our entrepreneurial ecosystem is!”

Ironically, 48 teams applied for the opportunity to participate in “What’s the Big Idea,” and six were selected. The initial weekend marathon was scheduled for January 22, 23 and 24 but was postponed due to the dire weather forecasts.

The six teams are:

  • ABA Pocket Interventions (Ryan Ginder and Brian Gill), an app and web-based program to make applied behavior analysis (ABA) treatment implementation more parent and staff-friendly;
  • Farm2Table (Jason Hanna & Doug McDaniel), a mobile web portal that aggregates locally-grown produce, providing a purchasing format and an online marketplace to connect local buyers with information and products;
  • Grow Bioplastics, LLC (Tony Bova and Jeff Beegle), a team focused on improving agriculture by providing farmers a cost-competitive solution to oil-based mulch films with renewable, biodegradable plastics;
  • Impact Solutions (Don Den Uyl, Todd Daniell, and Thomas Hackbarth), a tea, providing a proprietary method of fall detection to provide faster care response and improved outcomes in the home health, assisted living, and nursing home environment;
  • ProseWire (Jonathan Holley, Stacy Holley, and Joshua Holley), a digital marketplace of content to connect publishers and writers; and
  • Switch Stream (Joe Consumo, Collin Bell, Greg Knox, and Brian Gajus), a live video-streaming app that allows users to view and control multiple live streams broadcasted from other app users within the same geo location.As Skaar noted, “What the Big Idea” is presented by The Development Corporation of Knox County, Knoxville Chamber and KEC with sponsorship from Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C., the “power” behind teknovation.biz.

Those interested in attending the finale need to register. Here’s the link.

As Skaar noted, “What the Big Idea” is presented by The Development Corporation of Knox County, Knoxville Chamber and KEC with sponsorship from Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C., the “power” behind teknovation.biz. The Development Corporation is also providing the prize money and the offer of incubator space in the Fairview Technology Center.


Tom Ballard

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer,
Pershing Yoakley & Associates. P.C.

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