By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
Many came from the local community – Tullahoma – or nearby cities like Brentwood, Huntsville, AL, Manchester, and Nashville. A few came from greater distances, one notably from New York City.
All were in Tullahoma on Tuesday for the kick-off of the state’s newest start-up accelerator. As noted in a previous post on teknovation.biz, JusticeXL is focused on companies targeting the law enforcement, corrections and public safety sectors.
“What we have been doing is trying to turn an idea into an investable company,” Dan Marcum of the Southern Middle Tennessee Entrepreneur Centers told the opening session attended by community leaders, law enforcement officers, mentors, and the participating entrepreneurs. Marcum and his wife, Fran, have joined with Jerry Wright, a former Chief of Police, to launch JusticeXL.
With many of the 12 start-ups based in non-metropolitan cities, Dan Marcum noted that the accelerator wants to show that technology-based companies can be birthed and nurtured in rural areas. To reinforce the point, he cited a very successful enterprise founded in Tullahoma by Fran Marcum’s father and two other individuals. Its name was MicroCraft, and the company at one time had about 1,600 employees before being sold.
One of the JusticeXL start-ups is Perez Forensic Strategies, LLC in Brentwood. Founder Vincent Perez is a former police officer (nine years) and attorney (13 years) who moved to the region about 45 days ago. Now, he’s participating in the accelerator, hoping to further advance an idea that he has been pursuing for about six and one-half years.
“I know what it’s like to be on a crime scene and in court,” Perez explains. He also knows both the challenges of proper DNA collection and the impact it has in the courtroom. After all, Perez once served as General Counsel for a DNA lab.
“Everyone said you had to have a dry swab,” he said. “My solution can stay wet.” Specifically, the technology allows the DNA to be stored at room temperature and to dry on its own without refrigeration or degradation.
With an issued patent, Perez is ready to move forward and believes JusticeXL will help him.
Spencer Rosenbaum is a Manhattan-based attorney by day who learned about the new accelerator in an interesting way. He was attending a continuing legal education course in Nashville when a happenstance conversation at lunch caused him to submit an application for Corvus Technologies Corporation.
The company is actually based in Phoenix, ironically in a garage where Rosenbaum’s father, an engineer, has developed a “through the wall” electronic tracking technology for first responders.
“We want to be an international life-saving indoor tracking company,” Rosenbaum says. The pre-revenue start-up has a working prototype and sees JusticeXL as a vehicle to help advance the company, particularly as it works to raise capital.
“I would love to have a branch here,” he added, underscoring an important element of start-up accelerators – local economic development or “stickiness,” as it is sometimes described.
Other start-ups participating in JusticeXL include:
- Affidata Solutions, based in Manchester and focused on ensuring chain-of-custody, integrity, and admissibility of police video camera evidence, following on the rapidly growing use of car and body cameras.
- Ballisticks, a Duluth, GA company providing light weight anti-ballistic panels that can be worn by individuals or even installed in buildings and cars.
- Innertainment Delivery Systems, an idea birthed while its founder was working on his doctorate at Tennessee State University. His initial goal was to address the high recidivism rates in the criminal justice system, but now exploring using the same platform to provide training to help reverse the high turnover rates among correctional officers.
JusticeXL, which will be incorporating distance learning technology and do lectures on Mondays and Tuesday’s, ends on December 18.