“Future865” will explore entrepreneurial opportunities, challenges

Future865By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

“It’s an opportunity to explore the assets, ideas, companies, technologies, and policies available to enable a more thriving and successful entrepreneurial community,” John Bruck says of an event set for Monday, September 18

Titled “Future865,” the half-day session at Jewelry Television, a Knoxville entrepreneurial success, kicks-off five consecutive days of programming under the “Innov865 Week” banner.

Bruck, who moved to the community about two years ago and immediately found ways to engage in start-up activities, is chairing the planning group for the “Future865.” He ran a very successful engineering services company in Cincinnati before selling it and relocating to the Knoxville region, but he has maintained ties to the Ohio city, thanks in part to his involvement in Queen City Angels (QCA).

Those connections, as well as new ones he has made here, will be on display in a fast-paced program designed to both inform and inspire. “We will conclude with an ask,” Bruck says. Those who attend will learn what the ask is.

Wendy Lea, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Cintrifuse and a member of the Board of Directors of TechStars, will serve as keynote speaker. She assumed the top role at the Cincinnati-based public-private partnership that is focused on building a sustainable tech-based economy for the region in 2014.

“Wendy will describe the challenges we need to address for our region to grow to its potential as quickly as we can,” Bruck said. “She will be highlighting lessons we can learn from others.”

He described Cintrifuse as “the connectivity tissue in Cincinnati,” having space, processes and people to facilitate connections.

An important ingredient in the success equation for any entrepreneurial ecosystem is access to capital. As a QCA member, Bruck knows the importance of early stage capital. To address that topic, he has invited Tony Shipley, Chair and Co-Founder of QCA, to lead that discussion. Ironically, Shipley is an alumnus of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

“Tony will emphasize the importance of small, private equity into start-up companies as a separate equity class on their own personal portfolios,” Bruck said.

A number of local entrepreneurs will describe their vision for tech-based opportunities in the community.

  • Bruce Ramshaw, Chair of Surgery at the University of Tennessee’s (UT) Graduate School of Medicine, will discuss the changing world of healthcare and opportunities for entrepreneurs in that sector. He is a serial entrepreneur who currently serves as Chair and Chief Medical Officer of CQ Insights, a company participating in “The Works” growth accelerator operated by the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center.
  • Bill Malkes, Co-Founder and CEO of GRIDSMART Technologies Inc., will discuss intelligent transportation, a sector that can draw from a number of companies in the area such as his as well as research underway at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and UT.

The discussion is not limited to private sector opportunities. Jesse Mayshark, Director of Communications for the City of Knoxville, will discuss how the city’s open data program presents possibilities for entrepreneurs interested in utilizing its data.

Finally, there is a panel of food-focused entrepreneurs who will discuss the importance of restaurants and clubs on building a vibrant ecosystem. The title of their panel is “Let’s Eat.”

Bruck says the program will allow for extensive interaction between speakers or panelists and attendees.

There is no fee to attend, but pre-registration is requested at this link.


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