By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
The effort to enhance entrepreneurship in Blount County received a boost with Wednesday night’s announcement that Maryville College will hold an inaugural pitch competition on February 28.
Maryville College President Tom Bogart announced details of the “Scots Innovation Challenge” at the school’s “Innovation in the Arts” meet-up at Elkmont Exchange, ironically a venue started by Alex Violette, an alumnus of the College. And, the featured speaker at the Wednesday event was Adam McCall, an alum of the College and the Chief Executive Officer of Prisma Renewable Composites.
“We’re excited about this opportunity for our students and the larger Blount County community,” Bogart said at the event. “More than a competition, this is also a chance for people to learn from entrepreneurs and business leaders who can teach them how to get a business idea off the ground. We’re excited to see what comes out of that.””
The “Scots Innovation Challenge” is open to students, faculty and community members. It will include six sessions hosted by Maryville College faculty and the start-up community at large. Topics covered will include funding, legal consulting, customer discovery, sales, marketing and more.
The weekly one-hour sessions will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, beginning January 17 and continuing through February 14. All sessions will be held on the Maryville College campus (specific location to be announced later). Information and sign-up for the sessions is available here. The finale with the pitches is set for 6 to 9 p.m. February 28 in the Lambert Recital Hall. The first-prize winner will be awarded $1,500; second place, $1,000; and third place, $500.
The “Scots Innovation Challenge” will be the first pitch competition in the area organized to support the local entrepreneurial community. It follows several meet-ups organized under the “Sky City Initiative” banner attended by dozens of individuals.
“Blount County has an emerging entrepreneurial scene with the newly established ‘Sky City Initiative’ and a reputation of successful start-ups and innovators in the region,” said Rachel Buchannan of the Blount Partnership and Founder of the Sky City Initiative. “Partnerships with the Blount County Chamber of Commerce, Blount County Library and Maryville College all seek to support the growing needs addressed by the entrepreneurial community.”
Bogart said the pitch competition was in keeping with the College’s mission.
“Maryville College’s founder, the Rev. Isaac Anderson, lived by the motto ‘do good on the largest possible scale’ and inspired those around him to adopt it,” Bogart explained. “Among our small campus community and dedicated faculty, the ‘doing’ of that motto is taken very seriously. The College welcomes ideas that can solve problems for a range of needs for the local and global community.”