2016 Entrepreneur's Outlook(EDITOR’S NOTE: For nearly four years, we have been profiling young, aspiring entrepreneurs as well as those who are into their second, third or even seventh undertaking. So, we decided to ask a few of those entrepreneurs to share their thoughts with us as we begin a brand new year.)

Tyler Hays joined with Patrick Teasdale to found Evolvr, a company focused on the emerging field of virtual reality and its use by businesses. The company recently participated in two East Tennessee start-up accelerators – Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s second “MediaWorks” program and CO.LAB’s “GIGTANK” in Chattanooga. We profiled Evolvr in a two-part series in mid-2015. Here are the links – Part 1 and Part 2. Hays provided his insights for this article.

  • How would you describe the local entrepreneurial ecosystem as we enter 2016?  As a newcomer to the ecosystem, I don’t have much history to compare it to, but I would describe it as a three-year old toddler . . . young, but growing with a lot of potential. The first “Start-up Day” was only about three years ago, I believe.
  • How has the ecosystem changed in the last few years? I believe Knoxville is starting to understand how entrepreneurs and city-culture development go hand-in-hand. Entrepreneurs help shape the culture of the city when they create unique businesses. It gives our town a personality or identity that we previously haven’t had.
  • If you could wave a magic wand and get your wish as to one or two changes that would make it easier for local entrepreneurs to succeed, what would those be? I would like to see the pool of entrepreneurial mentors continue to grow and invest time/resources. As a young entrepreneur, we need as much perspective as we can get from folks who have been through it.
  • Most individuals make a special wish as they ring in a New Year. What wishes do you have for your company in 2016? My entrepreneurial efforts are currently professional freelance outside of my engineering vocation. In 2016, I plan to work myself out of my current job so I can focus more on building creative businesses and partnering with others.

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