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August 22, 2016 | Tom Ballard

Finalists for top awards at Knoxville’s upcoming “Start-up Day” announced

Start-up Day 2016

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The start-up named Amerus Enterprises, LLC is now known as RushBrush LLC.)

The Innova865 Alliance has announced the finalists for the two top awards that will be given at the end of this year’s Knoxville “Start-up Day” set for September 22 at the Bijou Theater.

Three finalists have been named for the “Traction Award,” while six start-ups will present their new companies in the “Pitch Competition.” Three Roots Capital and SouthEast Bank are the title sponsors for the pitch competition’s $5,000 cash prize. The UT Federal Credit Union sponsors the “Traction Award” which is presented to an alum of one of the three previous “Start-up Days” who has made the most progress or gained the most “traction.”

All three finalists for the “Traction Award” have been profiled in the past on, and those stories can be found by typing their names in the search box. They are

Bob Bradley, NewsBreak – The company started as a digital-out-of-home media business that provided local news and advertising to pump top television screens at Knoxville-area gas stations in 2009. Today, it has evolved into a predictive analytics software company that supports convenience store retailers’ quest to drive high profit margin products and services. NewsBreak is available to 1,400 Sinclair branded stations in 19 states as well as 6,000 fueling retailer locations across the U.S that are currently served by the third largest fuel pump manufacturer in the world, Bennett Pump Company.

Bryan Crosby, FunLPro Technology – Winner of last year’s “Pitch Competition,” FunLPro Technology LLC is marketing a pouring device to simplify the process of transferring fluids.  The patented closure system provides a lengthy, extendible, and directional pouring spout within the closure system itself, and eliminates the need to purchase, store, and reuse separate pouring devices such as traditional funnels, which can result in spills and contamination due to cross mixing of fluids. FunLPro was recently nominated by Plastics News, the largest trade journal in the consumer packaged goods industry, for its inaugural plastic caps and closures innovation.

Courtney Jones, MomSource Network – Jones started the company to help others, like herself, who wanted more flexibility in their employment, as well as the ability to fulfill their personal happiness without compromising their professional ambitions. MomSource Network serves as a conduit for job candidates, allowing them build an online profile about the type of employment they are looking for and notifying them when opportunities arise that fit their skill set and schedule. Likewise, employers are invited to build a profile with MomSource and are sent resumes of fully vetted candidates that match their hiring requirements. The company has gone from two employees in Knoxville to a team of fifteen spread across seven cities in four states, the newest addition being an outpost in Atlanta. The candidate pool has grown as well, from 200 local candidates in 2014 to more than 3,000 in both the United States and other countries.

The finalists in the “Pitch Competition” are:

Daniel Lawhon, AirFlare – The start-up partnered with NASA to use its metabolic analysis technology to develop a fitness tracker that can personalize a person’s workouts, diet, and fitness plans based on their metabolism. With this technology, a person can determine whether he or she is burning fat or carbohydrates when working out; at what pace he or she should be exercising for maximum athletic performance or weight loss; and whether more recovery time is needed.

Jay Crawford, Hot Transfer Network – The company is an online, HIPPA secure marketplace that allows regional networks of credentialed doctors to actively facilitate hospital to hospital transfers. An orthopedic surgeon, Crawford is familiar with the problems that can arise when a hospital needs to transfer a patient to a different facility to receive treatment. Using this system, hospitals can save time and money, reduce conflict, and improve patient outcomes with faster treatment.

Alicia Caputo, Avrio Analytics – The start-up, previously profiled on, leverages proprietary technology to offer data analytics services at a fraction of the cost, as well as providing predictive capabilities not available from visualizations alone. Its services put the power of a data scientist at the fingertips of anyone.

Dimitriy Petrov, RushBrush (formerly known as Amerus Enterprises, LLC) – The company creates innovative personal hygiene products. Its latest innovation is the RushBrush, a hybridized toothbrush that makes oral health on the go both more effective and convenient. Unlike ordinary toothbrushes, the RushBrush’s nylon bristles are coated with dehydrated toothpaste and the brush can be used right out of the package, no water required. The brush is produced using biodegradable materials, making it an environmentally-friendly option for consumers.

Graham Taylor, T&T Scientific Corporation – Another start-up previously profiled on, T&T Scientific created LipX, a time-saving, single use extrusion device that researchers can use to prepare liposomes for use in a wide range of research applications. Unlike the gold standard device which requires 45 to 60 minutes to assemble and clean with each use, LipX is ready to use out of the package. As a result, the extrusion process time is reduced to only a couple of minutes. With researchers performing this process over a million times each year, LipX has potential to make a big impact in the industry.

Eva Mutunga, TechSmarrt – This company’s data analysis software for materials research streamlines the process of material discovery and has shown gains in computational efficiency by over 100,000 times compared to a supercomputer. This allows users to obtain data on a material and its properties within seconds, saving time and reducing the amount of energy consumed during the process.

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