By Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates. P.C.
The leaves haven’t started changing colors yet, but football is here, so that must mean that the fall edition of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s (UTK) “Vol Court” is ready to launch.
In fact, it does next week with the first of the six sessions starting at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, October 1, in Room 102 of the Haslam Business Administration Building.
For six consecutive Tuesdays, students, faculty and interested community entrepreneurs will have an opportunity to gain useful insights on starting a new business. The series is hosted by UTK’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI) and sponsored by the UT Federal Credit Union, UT Research Foundation (UTRF), Morehous Legal Group, and Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C. (PYA).
The one-hour weekly sessions provide information about starting a business, help attendees understand the elements of developing a viable business, feature presentations by entrepreneurs who are in the midst of standing-up their companies, and provide a networking opportunity.
The final “Vol Court” session is November 5 when the entrepreneurs will combine everything they have learned into “pitches” that they will make to a panel of judges. The winner will receive $1,000 in cash, one year of space at the UTRF business incubator, legal services from Morehous, and business consulting from PYA.
Joy Fisher, formerly with ACEI and now Chief Executive Officer of an Oak Ridge start-up named Clodico, will be the presenter at the October 1 session. It will be the first of a two-part introduction to the business model hypothesis that drives everything up to the final pitches.
Lynn Youngs, ACEI Executive Director, will lead the second session on the business model set for October 8.
Two former UTK student entrepreneurs – Joey Natour and Seth Elliot of DineTouch – will lead the October 15 session that is focused on the Vol Court participants testing their hypothesis. On October 22, Chris Miller of Meritus Ventures will discuss the options and challenges in securing investment capital.
The final session on October 29, just ahead of the pitch competition, will be focused on preparing for each individual’s presentation to a panel of judges. Tom Graves, ACEI’s Operations Director, will lead that session.