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Next six-week “Vol Court” program begins January 30

The Spring Semester edition of the University of Tennessee’s (UT) “Vol Court Speaker Series and Pitch Competition” launches at 5:15 p.m. January 30. Location is Room 104 of the Haslam Business Building.

The twice-a-year program involves five weekly sessions of an hour each and a finale where participants pitch in a fast-paced competition for cash and other considerations. PYA, the power behind teknovation.biz, is one of the sponsors.

According to Shawn Carson, Lecturer in the Haslam College of Business and Vol Court Director, the presenters for the first four sessions have been named. He will lead the initial session titled “Does your customer care about you?  Do you even know?” That’s all about the customer discovery process.

Tommy Nguyen, Founder of Knoxville start-up Storage Pug, will lead the February 6 discussion on “Getting to your Market.” The Vietnam native and UT graduate has started several companies. One – Storage Pug – won both the “Judges’ Choice Award” and the “Traction Award” at last year’s “Startup Day Knoxville” event. We chronicled Nguyen’s entrepreneurial journey in a two-part teknovation.biz series (Part 1 and Part 2) last January.

Other dates, topics and speakers, if known, for the “Vol Court” sessions are:

  • February 13 – “The Funding Continuum” with John Bruck, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at UT’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneur and Innovation’s (ACEI) new Accelerator;
  • February 20 – “Entrepreneurial Crowdfunding” with William Mahaffey, one of the three Co-Founders of Central Cinema; and
  • February 27 – “What’s YOUR Story?”

The finale is March 6. Those interested in the sessions do not have to pre-register. “Vol Court” is an activity of the ACEI.


Tom Ballard

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

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