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July 28, 2020 | Tom Ballard

LaunchTN, “Start-up Knox”-inspired “Southeast Capital Call” draws nearly 70 participants

Nearly 70 people participated in the inaugural “Southeast Capital Call” virtual meeting organized yesterday by Launch Tennessee, based on an idea that is part of the evolving “Startup Knox” organization founded by Brandon Bruce and John Bruck.

As noted in this recent article, Bruce and Launch Tennessee’s Khrys Hatch, Capital Formation Manager, worked together to plan the inaugural event that featured Derrick Morgan, a nine-year veteran of the Tennessee Titans and investor in start-ups. He discussed his evolution as an investor and his investment strategy in a fireside chat with Bruce (see picture to the right).

The event was sponsored by Insperity. In his introductory comments, Hatch said the goal of what could become a “Capital Call” series is to “connect, convene and (provide an) opportunity to get to know each other.” Many of the attendees were investors, not only from Tennessee but neighboring states. That is consistent with the focus of Launch Tennessee’s new “Capital Formation Task Force” to better connect with funding sources across the country.

At the end of the fireside chat, five representatives of angel or venture firms briefly described their priorities and pitched investments in which they are involved. One of those was Knoxville-based Winter Innovations LLC and its EasyWhipTM device that was presented by Tony Lettich, Managing Director of The Angel Roundtable. He noted  the start-up that had won 12 pitch competitions planned to submit its 501(k) paperwork by the end of the year.

Other opportunities pitched were:

  • Glanris, a Memphis-based company that is part of the Innova Memphis portfolio and has developed the world’s first and only 100 percent green, ultra-low-cost water filtration media to transform the production of clean water.
  • Orbita, a Boston-based company that powers virtual assistants in the healthcare sector. Presented by Elise Miller Hoffman of Cultivation Capital in St. Louis, the company has just released a new product called the COVID-19 Chatbot Screener & Knowledge Base.
  • Obsidio, a Columbia, SC start-up focused on uncontrolled bleeding due to vascular injury or aneurysm rupture. David Mendez of Charleston’s Good Growth Capital presented the company.
  • U-Nest, a 529 college savings plan provider that was introduced by Sam Teden of Anthos Capital, a West Coast firm.

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