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April 02, 2018 | Tom Ballard

Six finalists named for this year’s “What’s the Big Idea”

Big Idea 2018Six finalists were named yesterday for this year’s “What’s the Big Idea 48-Hour Launch.” Nearly 100 applications were received, a record number.

The weekend-long event, scheduled for April 13-15, is an annual offering of The Development Corporation of Knox County. Since its founding earlier this decade, the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC) has coordinated the event, and Harper Auto Square has joined the effort this year as a sponsor.

Festivities kick-off at 6 p.m. April 13 with representatives of the finalists pitching their ideas to an audience of specialists and mentors. Following those presentations, the start-ups will be assigned a team to help them move their ideas from concept to launch-ready over the next two days. The finale pitch event is set for 6 to 8 p.m. April 15 at Scruffy City Hall.

The winner will receive a Big Idea Launch Package, which includes access to $10,000 in startup reimbursement costs, office space, and complimentary business services.

The finalists are:

  • Electro-Active Technologies, founded by Alex Lewis, who describes it as a system that enables companies to convert their own waste into low-cost, renewable hydrogen;
  • Volfluence, founded by Michael Newton, that is described as a Gen-Z-focused marketing solutions company helping brands generate attention and exposure through leveraging the social status of micro-influencers to create largescale word of mouth campaigns;
  • Tribe Rising, Ashleigh Huffman’s concept that gives sports fans a chance to win tickets, autographs, and apparel while giving back to the game they love;
  • Houselink, an idea from Chris Ayala, that he describes as something similar to Carfax but for the home, actively managing an individual’s most important investment;
  • Note-Ster, founded by Ja’keena Dillard, is a user-friendly, engaging learning platform that middle and high school teachers and students can use to view, share and store, using the power of crowdsourcing and social networking to connect the global learning community; and
  • Inky Boys Soap Company, a start-up from Mason Crockett that makes handcrafted bar soap using recycled fats and all-natural oils that clean and nourish the skin.

To register for the finale, click here.

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