Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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November 17, 2020 | Tom Ballard

It’s a robust week for those who like virtual events focused on technology, innovation and entrepreneurship

Events, events, events. It’s certainly been a busy last couple of days, and this is just the midway point in a week that includes several more.

Already underway or completed are the: (1) “Synapse Converge” four-day conference which we spotlighted somewhat in a feature post yesterday; (2) the one-day “Greater Nashville IT Summit” that was held yesterday; (3) the three-day national “Startup of the Year” conference that features several Tennessee companies in semi-final rounds before the finals later today; (4) a delayed until after the election session of late yesterday of “LSTCON,” the annual conference of Life Science Tennessee, that was obviously focused on post-election issues and topics; and (5) yesterday’s “Southeast Capital Call #2” hosted by Launch Tennessee.

Still on the calendar this week are: (1) today’s “Lunch and Learn” from the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council featuring Jeannette Mills, Executive Vice President and Chief External Relations Officer; and (2) tomorrow’s “Pitch for Good: Healthcare Edition” from the Nashville Entrepreneur Center.

The spotlight during yesterday’s “Southeast Capital Call #2” was on the agricultural sector, one of two new focus areas for Launch Tennessee that supports new venture development across the Volunteer State. The organization has started two new mentor networks, one of which is focused on the ag sector in partnership with the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center and Memphis-based AgLaunch.

Rob Dongoski (pictured here in a screenshot from yesterday), Partner at Ernst & Young LLP and the firm’s national Agribusiness Leader, provided a brief overview under the theme of “Food System Reimagined. In his comments, Dongoski talked about a number of paradoxes in food and agriculture starting with what he called “big food vs. small food.” The former is less wholesome.

After his comments, four other innovators in the sector joined him for a panel discussion. They were: (1) Michael Bartholomeusz, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of TruTag Technologies Inc.; (2) Hunter McDaniel, Founder and CEO of UbiQD; (3) Jason Tatge, Co-Founder, President and CEO of Farmobile; and (4) Tomer Tzach, CEO of CropX Technologies LTD.

We were able to attend the opening keynote session at yesterday’s “Greater Nashville IT Summit” where we listened to a fascinating almost 60-minute presentation by Kate O’Neill (pictured here). She is the Founder and Chief Tech Humanist of KO Insights and describes herself on her webpage as “an author, keynote speaker, Fortune 500 advisor, and experience strategy expert focused on helping humanity prepare for an increasingly tech-driven future by teaching business how to make technology that’s better for humans.” Look for a more detailed article on her very fascinating insights in a future issue of

The four Tennessee-based ventures that are among the 100 semi-finalists in the “Startup of the Year” competition are: (1) SweetBio that is redefining how to care for wounds through the use of Manuka honey to treat tough wounds including ulcers and surgical sites, pitched by Co-Founder Kayla Graff (pictured here during yesterday’s round); (2) CPR Wrap, developer of the single-use template that protects and guides any non-medical responder during CPR; (3) Hera Health Solutions, a pharmaceutical device company specializing in the research, development, and commercialization of long-acting treatments through proprietary biodegradable drug delivery implants; and (4) SecondKeys, a company that is redefining property management through predictive maintenance that bridges the gaps between property owners, property managers. The finalists will be announced today and compete later in the afternoon.

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