(EDITOR’S NOTE: For nearly four years, we have been profiling young, aspiring entrepreneurs as well as those who are into their second, third or even seventh undertaking. So, we decided to ask a few of those entrepreneurs to share their thoughts with us as we begin a brand new year.)
Jeff Hubrig Jr. is Manager of Business Development at Innovasan, a Knoxville-based start-up with a tagline that says it all:” clean and safe water everywhere.” It’s a family-owned company, founded by the younger Hubrig’s parents and based on intellectual property co-invented by Jeff Sr. and Joe Dooley. Innovasan has 14 issued patents and 15 pending. We first profiled the company in this late 2014 article and have posted updates periodically since then. Innovasan is also a participant in this year’s “The TENN” master accelerator sponsored by Launch Tennessee.
- How would you describe the local entrepreneurial ecosystem as we enter 2016? Energized, optimistic, motivated. I feel like there is a great deal of excitement and anticipation surrounding the local entrepreneurial system. Events like “Start-up Day” continue to get bigger and bigger each year with more and more success stories coming out of our community. The Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC) is doing a great job collaborating with the community to create events and provide resources for local entrepreneurs. Our access to capital is also increasing with organizations like the Angel Capital Group doing a great job getting involved in the community. Overall, it seems that the collaboration between key resources and the community in our local entrepreneurial ecosystem is constantly increasing and the sky is the limit as we enter 2016.
- How has the ecosystem changed in the last few years? I have only been actively involved in the Knoxville and greater Tennessee entrepreneurial arena for a little over a year but over that period, I have seen the statewide support system for entrepreneurs grow exponentially with no sign of slowing down. I’ve had the opportunity and privilege to work with and get to know many of the entrepreneurial ecosystem influencers in cities across the state, and there is an unprecedented level of statewide synergy right now with the network of accelerators and resources that are available to entrepreneurs. At the local level, there is an entrepreneurial renaissance of sorts going on, led by organizations like KEC and supported by a number of corporate partners and universities in our community. It goes back to the synergy mentioned earlier. Everyone is working together, and there is a lot of potential if the resources in our community continue to put their heads together and make things happen.
- If you could wave a magic wand and get your wish as to one or two changes that would make it easier for local entrepreneurs to succeed, what would those be? The amazing entrepreneurial synergy we have going on a statewide level is made possible by the activity that is occurring at the local level in each community. My wish would be that this activity continues in 2016 and beyond. Folks like Jim Biggs and the team at the KEC have done a great job creating a network of resources and ways for entrepreneurs to get involved in the community and take their ideas to the next level. We recently had our third annual (and biggest) “Start-up Day” celebrating the entrepreneurs and ideas in our Knoxville community. I hope that this event continues to grow and that others like it are created. We are fortunate to have great corporate and academic partners/sponsors in the community that help make all of this happen, and I wish for their continued involvement over the coming years, as well as the recruitment of new partners and sponsors.
- Most individuals make a special wish as they ring in a New Year. What wishes do you have for your company in 2016? At a macro level, our primary wish for the company in 2016 is to complete our MVP (minimally viable product) utilizing the input we have received from early adopters and to get underway with the field trial program at our beta sites.