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May 29, 2014 | Tom Ballard

“BIG IDEA” TEAM SHARPE: Guitar trading, portable sink, and video memories

Big Idea-tekno(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the final in a three-part series briefly profiling the nine companies selected for the latest round of the “What’s the Big Idea?!” business competition. Each article in the series is based on the presentations made during the down selection round on May 6, so some changes can be expected when they next present during the “Knock-Out Competitions” set for June 3. After all, that’s the purpose of the coaching/mentoring process.)

By Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.

John Sharpe, President of a number of companies including ARG Executive Search and ARG Financial Staffing, elected entrepreneurs focused on online guitar trading, an innovative portable sink, and an app to capture memories for later distribution for his team in the 2014 “What’s the Big Idea?!” competition.

Like the other coaches – Guille Cruze and Misty Mayes, he will bring his expertise in starting several companies and long-time involvement the Knoxville Chapter of the Entrepreneur’s Organization to help these founders refine their business plans, better prepare for the next event, and enhance their likelihood for long-term success.

The next official activity is the “Knock-Out Competitions” set for June 3.

Jonathan Owens’ idea for addresses a problem that he understands personally.

“We want this perfect guitar tone,” he says of pickers like himself. The only way to determine if a specific guitar is just the right one is to test it. What happens if you buy it, try it out and find out it is not? You need to trade the instrument.

“There’s no website specifically designed for guitar gear trading,” Owens says in describing the void his start-up would fill. “We offer tools to let people barter back and forth.”


“I’ve taken 10 years to develop FlowSink,” Martin Wade said at the May 6 down selection event. “It helps me complete a job in half the time.”

The device is a multi-use, portable sink that continuously replaces dirty water with fresh water. It does so by employing two hoses – one for the intake of clean water and the other for the removal of the dirty.

Wade sees it being used in everything from cleaning painting tools to cleaning dishes while on a camping trip.


Michael Crain’s vision for Vuture is to “create a new way to share the memories we make” through pre-recorded videos that can be shared at a pre-determined date and time in the future.

His company, which was previously profiled on, was awaiting approval from Apple for its app to be available in the App Store when he presented May 6.

Noting that he has a provisional patent that gives Vuture a competitive advantage against others, Crain says he is focusing on funeral homes, fitness centers, and wedding chapels as key channel partners.

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