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October 01, 2020 | Tom Ballard

Diversity of ideas and Founders spotlighted in yesterday’s “Raising + Rising” event

Nine area Founders pitched their start-ups that are at various stages of growth during yesterday’s “Raising + Rising” event co-hosted by the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC) and Three Roots Capital.

The session was a variation of an event that KEC has coordinated each year during “Innov865 Week,” but it took on a different format due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 50 people viewed the nearly two-hour session hosted by Lunchpool.

Ironically, the first of the nine start-ups that pitched to three panelists was Alex Abell, Co-Founder of Lunchpool. The panelists were Ken Woody, Founder and Partner of Innova Memphis; Kristina Montague, Managing Partner for The JumpFund; and Richard Dapaah, Executive-in-Residence at KEC. Chris Miller, Chief Financial Officer at Three Roots, moderated the discussions between the presenters and the panelists after each pre-recorded video presentation.

Here’s a screenshot of Miller and the panelists who asked questions and provided suggestions to help the start-ups enhance their likelihood of success. The presentations were a mix of start-ups whose progress we have covered in the past year, one Founder with whom we reconnected, and others that were brand new on our landscape. It clearly showed the diversity of start-ups in the local ecosystem, both in terms of business sectors and in terms of the Founders themselves.

  • Abell told the attendees that Lunchpool had grown from no revenue in March to $100,000 monthly. Many of this week’s “Innov865 Week” events have been delivered via Lunchpool including tomorrow’s finale when the awards will be presented.
  • Alane Boyd, a recent participant in the “AgLaunch Bootcamp,” described the progress that she is making with BurgerFit, a Cookeville-based company that we spotlighted in this recent biz article.
  • Olulifehanmi Osikoya pitched Knudl, a sports betting social network app that will begin beta testing today with plans to formally launch January 1. He described it as “a safe way to ensure that winners get paid and no one gets hurt.” Osikoya said he need $250,000 to launch.
  • Kendra Corpier is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Eimear Studios, located in Maryville with plans to bring to market its first computer game named “Enfield’s Apocalypse.” Her initial need is for $300,000 in funding.
  • Bruce Ramshaw, Founder of CQInsights, updated the progress that the company has made, including a new utility patent and product named Vality. “We’ve spent 10 years learning how to apply data science” in healthcare, he explained, noting that decentralizing data to each locality could have impacted the response to COVID-19 as one example. Two key targets are pharmaceutical and medical device companies.
  • Regis Nisengwe has conceived GradKonnect as a tool for international students to make connections with university faculty members as the former are evaluating colleges to attend.
  • Erica Grant, a participant in the recently announced Cohort 4 of the “Innovation Crossroads” (IC) program, discussed how her Quantum Lock Technologies start-up is creating the “best in security for connected facilities and equipment.” An early target market is the hotel industry, something Grant is using as a way to establish the company’s credibility. “We have a lot of different vertical markets,” she said.
  • Alex Lewis, a participant in Cohort 3 of the IC program, described Electro-Active Technologies Inc. that is developing a modular system to convert organic waste into renewable hydrogen. He said the company has raised $1.4 million toward a $2 million seed round.
  • Just a night after serving as a judge for the finale of the “Vol Court Speaker Series and Pitch Competition,” Genesee Semon pitched The Beachy Clean, a company that will launch its first product – an affordable, non-allergenic, sustainable soap – in January. Her idea won first place in the lifestyle category during the Spring Edition of the “Graves Business Plan Competition” at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

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