By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
Don Den Uyl knows a thing or two about entrepreneurship. He’s started companies, he’s worked for start-ups, and he’s an active volunteer in Knoxville entrepreneurial community.
By day, Den Uyl is the Director of Product Development for Knoxville-based PerfectServe, a company that provides a single, unified communications platform connecting clinicians across the care continuum, both inside and outside of their organizations.
He’s also President and Owner of OwlNet Consulting, a key player in Knoxville’s CodeStock annual conference, and an active volunteer with the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center. In the latter role, he served as one of the mentors for the recent “What’s the Big Idea” competition, actually writing the app for “Sing and Spell,” the ultimate winner.
Get the picture? Den Uyl is an active contributor to Knoxville’s technology space.
“I keep stumbling into opportunities,” he says in his understated manner.
After graduating from Tennessee Technological University, Den Uyl headed for Huntsville, working for the U.S. Department of Defense in radar and information gathering.
“I saw the writing on the wall in the 1980s,” he says about pending budget cuts. So, he took his skills set and went to work for a small company. Next, Den Uyl started his own firm before “stumbling into an opportunity” with a South Florida law firm.
“They needed a software architect,” he said.
Later, Den Uyl founded Diamond Systems, a company that developed a software product to “effectively manage the flow of work orders.” It was a subscription service and, while Den Uyl still has an ownership stake, he is not active in its business.
Den Uyl joined PerfectServe in 2010 where he is responsible for the design and development of the company’s client platform as well as its internal management applications.
With his long-standing work in software development, it only makes sense that he would play an active role in CodeStock.
The annual two-day event for software developers, IT professionals, and entrepreneurs was founded by Michael Neel, previously profiled in a two-part series on teknovation.biz (Part 1 and Part 2). When Neel decided to step away from coordinating the event, Den Uyl and a colleague – Andrew May – agreed to step-up.
“It was a way to give something back,” Den Uyl explained, noting that he had attended the CodeStock conferences and “learned a lot.”
The 2015 event is set for July 10 and 11 in an expanded venue – the Knoxville Convention Center.
“We’re trying to grow it to 800 participants,” Den Uyl says.
In his recent role as a mentor and app developer for “What’s the Big Idea,” he says the opportunity to work with the winner “was a lot of fun for me . . . particularly the animation” utilized in the novel way to combine music, voice and animated cartoon characters to help young people learn spelling.
Through his involvement with so many organizations, Den Uyl has a unique perspective on the region and its technology assets.
“If Knoxville has a hub, it’s probably media, but that’s not the only thing,” he says. “There’s a lot more talent here than people realize, particularly in software and technology. There are lots of pockets here, but people don’t know about each other.”
With his active involvement in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem, one suspects more people with be connected as time goes by.