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Knoxville start-up captures “Crowd Favorite Award” in latest “Pitch for Good” competition

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

The Nashville Entrepreneur Center (NEC) hosted another virtual “Pitch for Good” yesterday, this time focused on women founders, and one of the six presenters was Allison Campbell from Knoxville who captured the “Crowd Favorite Award.”

The recent graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) competed with two other start-ups in the “Launch” category, defined as revenues no more than $25,000, while three others competed in the “Up and Running” group for those who have achieved a threshold of at least $25,000 in revenue.

Sanders

Rootine, a Nashville-based precision health start-up, won the “Up and Running” category and a $2,000 financial grant from the NEC. We recently noted in a short “News Briefs” posting that the company had landed $3 million in seed funding, and Rachel Sanders, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), pitched the start-up yesterday. Rootine is leveraging artificial intelligence to look at individual DNA, blood, and lifestyle test results to create a “hyper-customized” daily micronutrient formula.

Morris

Capturing first place in the “Launch” category and a $2,000 financial grant was The Comma Collective. As described by Miller Morris, it is a for-profit company that also is affiliated with a non-profit. The former is creating an organic, biodegradable tampon that includes both a “novel material blend” and an applicator that is fully compostable. The result is something that will breakdown in seven to nine weeks.

Regular readers of teknovation.biz may recall Campbell’s start-up, named Fluffy Friends for Children with Chronic Conditions, that we spotlighted in this recent article. It is a 501(c)(3) focused on ensuring young patients with a chronic illness never feel that they are fighting their battle alone, and Campbell achieves that goal by providing children with a custom-designed teddy bear. Each bear has a pocket in the back that holds something that symbolizes each child’s disease and their struggles to cope with it.

Campbell

It was Campbell’s latest success. Earlier this year, she won first place in the “Lifestyle” category of the “Graves Business Plan Competition” (see our teknovation.biz article here) and won another $5,000 in the “Boyd Venture Challenge.” Both are sponsored by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in UTK’s Haslam College of Business.

The other competitors in the “Up and Running” category were:

  • DocLauncher, pitched by Lauren O’Meara. While the platform appears to have many uses, she highlighted it as a tool to help medical professionals identify appropriate clinical trials for their patients 10 times faster than traditional options.
  • Mimconnect, pitched by Netta Dobbins. It is also a technology-enabled platform to help people of color connect with job opportunities and also help employers identify candidates from its growing pool of individuals that currently numbers 10,000.

The other competitor besides The Comma Collective and Fluffy Friends in the “Launch” category was Limuless LLC. As described by Jennifer Watson, the start-up’s Co-Founder and Chief Scientist, the company is focused on producing and supplying a Limulus-free recombinant Limulus Amebocyte Lysate (LAL) assay for the pharmaceutical industry to safeguard humanity’s supply of vaccines, medicines, and medical devices. She noted that the source of LAL today is the blood of the horseshoe crab which is being overharvested.

Judges for yesterday’s event were: (1) Kristin Cavallari, Founder and CEO of Uncommon James; (2) Felicia Jackson, Founder of CPRWrap Inc.; and (3) Jamie Troxell with Dell Technologies, a key NEC partner.

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