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August 11, 2015 | Tom Ballard

Capacity crowd fills Square Room for “MediaWorks Demo Day”


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

A capacity, enthusiastic crowd filled the Square Room on Tuesday night for “MediaWorks Demo Day.”

“We are celebrating a frentic and exhausting 12 weeks,” Jim Biggs, Executive Drector of the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC), said in his opening remarks, a reference to the entrepreneurial teams and the KEC staff.

“MediaWorks” was launched in 2014 by KEC and returned this year with nine participating teams with ideas ranging from teaching young people how to read to helping people with food allergies better manage their dietary intake.

In an earlier post on and again last night, KEC Entrepreneur-in-Residence Jonathan Sexton noted the teams had spent more than 200 hours in “MediaWorks” activities. Those included three all-weekend “sprints.”

The event was not only a celebration of entrepreneurs focused on new media companies, but also a celebration of existing companies in a city recognized as the third largest video production center after Los Angeles and New York City,

“It’s a great time to be an entrepreneur in Tennessee,” Biggs said. In the case of media-focused start-ups, their success has to be helped by the location of some well-known established national brands like Scripps Interactive Networks, Rivr Media,  Jupister Entertainment and North/South Productions and emerging companies like Newsbreak.

Bob Bradley, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the latter company, moderated a panel of seasoned executives discussing key trends. The panelists were Vikki Neil, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Scripps; Mark Hickman, North/South’s CEO; Joy O’Shell, Vice President of Business Affairs for SFX and KEC’s new Director of Marketing; and Kevin Grosch, CEO of Made In Network.

We will have a follow-up post on insights from the panel on Thursday.

The teams competing in this year’s second edition of “MediaWorks” were:

  • Baracksdubs, a product from SpareTime that puts words in people’s mouths, entertaining millions through musical mashups of President Obama’s speeches;
  • Evolvr which creates an immersive, 360-degree real estate tour experience that allows users to visit multiple potential properties in various locations;
  • Instartly, a 21st century media company that uses tight processes and best-in-class back-end automation to blow away what micro business owners expect to get from website design, hosting and digital communications: all for only $69 per month;
  • MenuMagic™, a platform containing all menus for every dining establishment around the world and organizing that information in a simple, user friendly way in order to improve the dining experience for our users;
  • Resque, a smart social media automation for real estate agents;
  • Sing and Spell, a product from Children’s Media Studio that helps pre-readers learn letter sounds through animated content;
  • Solidpick, a web-based application that provides sports fans a platform to pick game winners and filters standings by sport, conference, division, team and state in order to highlight and put a face to the best at picking games;
  • Topics which allows users to easily discover, retrieve, store, and organize customized information related to finance, business, or marketing;  and
  • WDVX, a listener-supported radio station, whose idea is to create a social media tool that will enable listeners to collaborate with other WDVX fans and create their own weekly WDVX radio show.

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