Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
June 24, 2014 | Tom Ballard wins 2014 “What’s the Big Idea?!”

Big Idea FinaleBy Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C., a start-up founded by a guitar player to help other guitar owners trade instruments, walked away last night with the top prize in this year’s “What’s the Big Idea?!” business competition held at the Relix Theater on North Central Street.

The finale featured four competing companies – three, who made it through several rounds of previous competitions, and a fourth, selected after a round of “power pitches” made by start-ups that participated in earlier rounds, but failed to advance to the finals.

Brack Owens has developed a website, appropriately named, that is designed to facilitate peer-to-peer, item-for-item trading for guitar-related music equipment. He says guitarists are always in search of an instrument with the “perfect tone,” and trading is the best way to accomplish this. Existing services do not meet all of the needs, such as trust and bartering.

The other finalists were:

  • FlowSink – Martin Wade is developing a multi-use, portable sink that continuously exchanges dirty water with fresh water. Wade describes it as “the tile layers and painter’s dream tool.” The device can be used for tasks like cleaning painting tools and mopping floors.
  • Vuture – Michael Crain wants to enable individuals to record and schedule videos to share a predetermined times, maybe even after an individual’s death. His company is based around a user-friendly iOS application. Vuture’s tagline is “The Future Delivery of Today’s Videos.”
  • – Christopher Saah is developing an application that allows personal trainers to effortlessly create an eCommerce website where they can sell and suggest fitness products.

Saah made the finals by winning the “People’s Choice Award” in a competition with three other start-ups.

Judges for the finale were Roger Kiger of Visionary Horizons Wealth Management, Bill Malkes of Aldis, Michael McIntyre of the University of Tennessee, John Platillero of, and Lisa Skinner of Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group.

By winning the 2014 competition, will receive $10,000 to help defray start-up costs, office space, and complimentary business services.

“What’s the Big Idea?!” is a joint effort of the Knoxville Chamber, Development Corporation of Knox County, and Tech 20/20.

“We have once again been able to mine out some of the most promising companies and given them a springboard,” said Todd Napier, Executive Vice President of the Development Corporation.

Like what you've read?

Forward to a friend!

Don’t Miss Out on the Southeast’s Latest Entrepreneurial, Business, & Tech News!

Sign-up to get the Teknovation Newsletter in your inbox each morning!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

No, thanks!