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October 04, 2023 | Katelyn Keenehan

Start-up Flock Analytics secures first place in Vol Court pitch competition

Eleven UTK students went head-to-head in a start-up pitch competition. Meet the student entrepreneur who won $1,500.

Established and respected entrepreneurs evaluated the business ideas of 11 University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) students on Tuesday night. Flock Analytics, a concept to create analytics software for churches was the top selection of the judges.

Cody Blankenship secured the first-place prize of $1,500. Other conceptualized businesses included an entrepreneurial social media app, meditation coaching for athletes, a wholesale sneaker company previously spotlighted on, plant-based water bottle production, pickleball tournaments, and interactive campus maps.

Zain Zitawi

The business pitches are a part of Vol Court, which is a five-week entrepreneurial speaker series through the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Haslam College of Business. The series wrapped up with the business idea pitch competition. Students who attended all five speaker sessions delivered a 90-second business pitch to a panel of judges with an opportunity to win a grand prize of $1,500.

This semester, the judges for the competition were PYA’s Chief Alliance Officer, Tom Ballard, founder of Oglewood Avenue, Jade Adams, and UTK’s Assistant Director of Entrepreneurship and New Ventures, Taylor Bozarth.

Blankenship took top honors for Flock Analytics. He formed his business plan based on a critical need within churches. He is working to create analytics software that will keep track of church tithings, attendance and small group data. Blankenship said the software will help churches identify some gaps in their ministry, such as which age, racial, geographic and socioeconomic groups they may not be effectively reaching.

Mickey Napier came in second place, winning $1,000 with Napier Pickleball. The idea was to organize competitive pickleball tournaments in East Tennessee, and use the participant buy-in fees as a way to invest in a large facility in a few years.

Valencia Loi and Kaili Ajamie came in third place, winning $500 with PlasTech. The business idea was established to combat the increasing amount of microplastics found in plastic water bottles. They wanted to create a plant-based bottle, free of bisphenol A and phthalates, which can leach into the water.

The Anderson Center holds the Vol Court pitch competition twice a year. The next step is the Graves Business Plan Competition, which is an opportunity for students to win start-up capital for their original business plan. However, the most sought-after start-up funding is through the annual Boyd Venture Challenge, where the top company could win up to $30,000 in start-up capital.


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