Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
October 31, 2012 | Tom Ballard

All-star line-up of local, national speakers set for ei2012!

Some of the region’s most successful entrepreneurs will kick-off Tech 20/20’s third annual “Entrepreneurial Imperative” conference (ei2012!) on Monday afternoon, November 12, at the Knoxville Marriott Hotel.

“We have pulled together an all-star line-up of speakers and panelists to cover everything in the entrepreneurial and start-up continuum,” said John Morris, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tech 20/20. “We have many outstanding local speakers as well as nationally recognized entrepreneurial leaders.”

Ashley Capps, founder of AC Entertainment, delivers the opening keynote address. His company, which is headquartered in Knoxville, organizes more than 750 concerts annually, but is best known for its Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, the Big Ears Festival, and Moogfest.

Following Capps presentation, four local entrepreneurs will join a Nashville-based entrepreneur for a lively discussion on “The ‘Ins and Outs’ of Being an Entrepreneur.” Well-known Knoxville entrepreneur Lee Martin will facilitate the panel that includes Terry Douglass, Chairman of ProVision Foundation and one of the founders of CTI Molecular; Barry Goss, founder and CEO of Pro2Serve; Vig Sherrill, co-founder of Aldis Corporation; and Mark Harris, CEO of Nashville-based NextGxDx.

Morris said that the balance of the first day will include another keynote address by Rob Adams, author of If You Build It, Will They Come?, and another panel on “From Technology to Start-up.” This panel will be facilitated by Grady Vanderhoofven, Fund Manager for Meritus Ventures, and includes Eric Donsky, Managing Partner of Laguna Ventures; Brian Cummings, Vice President for Tech Commercialization at The Ohio State University; and Josh Schuler, Executive Director of the Lemelson-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Program

The second day features a panel on “Breaking Down Barriers” to successful technology transfer and commercialization. Tom Rogers, Director of Industrial Partnerships and Economic Development at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), will facilitate the panel that includes Tom Berg, Director of the Office of Commercialization and Partnerships at the Y-12 national Security Complex; Maha Krishnamurthy, Licensing Associate for the University of Tennessee Research Foundation; and Mike Paulus, Director of Technology Transfer at ORNL.

Ten workshops on entrepreneurial leadership, intrapreneurial development, and venture capital consume the balance of the Tuesday morning.

After a luncheon address by Donsky, the “ThrottleUp!” pitch competition begins. It is sponsored by the East Tennessee Regional Accelerator Coalition and features five companies. Each has or will be profiled on before the November 13 session. The companies are:

“At the end of the day, Tech 20/20 is focused on helping increase start-ups in the region, and we believe our ThrottleUp! competition is central to achieving this goal,” Morris said.

More information about the conference can be found at

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