By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
T & T Scientific Corporation walked away yesterday afternoon with the $5,000 grand prize as winner of the “Pitch Competition” during Knoxville’s fourth annual “Start-up Day,” and NewsBreak Media Networks captured the “Traction Award” for the progress that the three-person company has made.
T & T Scientific, previously profiled in this teknovation.biz article, competed with five other first-time presenters at the event, while NewsBreak Media vied with FunLPro Technology and MomSource Network, alumni of past “Start-up Day” competitions, for recognition as the start-up that had gained the most traction.
The other competitors for the $5,000 prize money were:
- Alicia Caputo of Avrio Analytics;
- Jay Crawford of Hot Transfer Network;
- Daniel Lawhorn of AirFlare;
- Eva Mutunga of TechSmarrt; and
- Dimitriy Petro of RushBrush.
The afternoon event culminated the fourth day of Knoxville’s inaugural week-long celebration of entrepreneurship. Under the “Innov865 Alliance” brand, a core group of public and private entities organized the five-day celebration of the region’s entrepreneurial assets and aspirations. Founding members included the University of Tennessee Research Foundation and the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation on the Knoxville campus, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, Launch Tennessee, and PYA, sponsor of teknovation.biz.
During the Thursday afternoon session, well-known entrepreneur and investor Paul Singh offered some advice to entrepreneurs about his thesis that they are trying to succeed in an attention economy.
“It’s not enough to build a good company,” he said. “If you really want to succeed, you have to command and hold attention.”
During a conversation with Cirruspath’s Brandon Bruce, Singh offered his hierarchy of the ways entrepreneurs can leverage their networks to connect with venture capitalists and other investors. Service providers were at the bottom of his list, and other investors in the middle. He said those that he listened to most were founders of companies that he has already funded.
Another piece of advice Singh offered related to the first 30 seconds of a pitch to potential investors.
“You have to lead with traction,” he said, referring to items like sales or revenue. The later traction items come in a pitch, the more likely the entrepreneur is to lose the opportunity.
The two award winners are in totally different sectors.
T & T Scientific, founded by Graham Taylor and Nima Tamaddoni, is marketing a low-cost, single-use liposome extrusion device that simplifies the process of preparing liposomes for research laboratories, manufacturing facilities, and clinical operations.
NewsBreak Media, founded in 2011 by Bob Bradley, is most noted in the Knoxville area for its short news and weather updates available the convenience stores of several chains. The focus, however, has expanded more recently as detailed in this recent article on teknovation.biz.
“Innov865 Week” draws to a close late this morning with two events in Oak Ridge. Alliance members will provide an overview of the week’s highlights during the weekly meeting of the East Tennessee Economic Council. That will be followed by a two-hour session titled “Cybersecurity Opportunities for the Entrepreneur and Small Business.”
The latter event, presented by the relatively new Cyber & Information Security Consortium, runs from 9 to 11 a.m. in the MC-100 Building of Oak Ridge Associated Universities, 100 ORAU Way, Oak Ridge.