Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
August 06, 2014 | Tom Ballard

Large crowd celebrates “MediaWorks Demo Day” on Tuesday night

MediaWorks(EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to previous travel plans, we were unable to attend Tuesday night’s “MediaWorks Demo Day,” so we appreciate the efforts of Jim Biggs and Jonathan Sexton of the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center to provide this summary.)  

The Square Room in Knoxville was overflowing Tuesday evening with entrepreneurs, investors and supporters who had gathered to celebrate the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s inaugural “MediaWorks Demo Day.”

More than 250 people from across the Southeast packed the room to listen to pitches from the nine digital media companies who participated in this year’s “MediaWorks” program.  The crowd was also treated to welcoming remarks from Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and an inspirational keynote speech by HGTV co-founder Susan Packard, who highlighted her experiences as a cable television executive and ‘intrapreneur.’

“Launching HGTV in Knoxville, TN was a culture decision, for the brand, as well as internally– and we have been rewarded,” said Packard. “The work ethic and commitment of the talent in this community has been the backbone of our success, and the message to the entrepreneurs is: You are only as good as your team.”

The tone for the evening was set early on in remarks from KEC’s Executive Director Jim Biggs:  “If you had asked me back in early April whether it was possible we would be here today celebrating a demo day, I would have told you… ‘Hell Yeah!’,” Biggs told the audience. “This is a town that makes things happen.”

Although this is the third accelerator program run by KEC, it was the first to focus exclusively on digital media.  Jonathan Sexton, KEC’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence and the event’s MC, explained why they chose to concentrate on that sector:  “Digital media represents a perfect opportunity for Knoxville to take advantage of the depth of its existing local businesses.  Knoxville is home to Scripps Networks Interactive, Rivr Media, Jupiter Entertainment, Regal Cinemas, AC Entertainment, and so many more, these companies have been doing their part for years and it’s time for us to do ours as we foster the next generation of great media companies in East Tennessee. We are a media town, and ‘MediaWorks’ was designed to capitalize on that strength.”

Channing Dawson, Senior Advisor at Scripps Networks Interactive and a Master Mentor for the “Media Works” program, agreed:  “We’re in a really interesting place in the history of media.  Media is now universal.  Media can be done anywhere, and the younger generation grew up with that.  They’re digital natives, they have that in their DNA. The opportunity is immense.”

However the night REALLY belonged to the nine Media Works teams, many who have been previously profiled on  Cheered on by an enthusiastic and engaged audience, the energy level never dipped as each of the startups rose to present their concepts.  According to Biggs, “We like to say that KEC is a place that turns people with ideas into people with businesses.  Demo Day is literally where that aspiration plays out on stage.”

And it certainly did play out – the Square Room was packed. The first deal was announced about five minutes after the last presentation, and as Bob Bradley, CEO of Newsbreak said, “Entrepreneurship is alive and well in Knoxville, Tennessee.



Like what you've read?

Forward to a friend!

Don’t Miss Out on the Southeast’s Latest Entrepreneurial, Business, & Tech News!

Sign-up to get the Teknovation Newsletter in your inbox each morning!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

No, thanks!