By Kailyn Lamb, Marketing Content Writer and Editor, PYA
Leviathan Affordable Aquarium Automation, a company that makes circuit boards to help check chemical levels of the water in fish tanks, won this year’s “What’s the Big Idea? Pitch Festival” (WTBI) along with the $10,000 grand prize.
This year’s competition, held late Sunday afternoon into early evening, looked slightly different from previous editions of the event run by the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC). In prior years, finalists would refine their pitch over 48 hours before presenting at a Sunday evening finale at Scruffy City Hall on Market Square. This year, the five finalists pitched virtually to judges after spending 10 days working with a mentor team. Pitches were five minutes, followed by a three-minute Q&A session with judges.
Leviathan’s Co-Founder Brandon Schreiber said the prize money from WTBI would go toward purchasing a circuit board machine that would help the company scale-up its manufacturing. Schreiber currently builds each circuit board by hand.
Judges for this year’s event included Angelique Adams, Author and Chief Innovation and Research and Development Officer at Aperam; Harry Boston, Founder and President of Boston Government Services; and Ashley Capps, Founder of AC Entertainment.
The other finalists for “What’s the Big Idea” were:
- The Crwdn App;
- Ear Buttons;
- Liora, LLC (read more about this finalist and its founder Michelle French in this teknovation.biz article); and
- Lu Lu Liquor Cakes.
; Chris McAdoo, Director of Strategy and Engagement at the KEC, said they received nearly 50 submissions for this year’s event. Each applicant created a two-minute video that was voted on by the public. The KEC received nearly 3,000 votes, which helped narrow it down to the five finalists. Original pitch videos from the five finalists can be found here.
This year’s event also featured five musical acts from the Knoxville region. Videos of songs by James Trimble of the Dirty Guv’Nahs, Peak Physique, J Bush, and Kelsi Walker were played before the pitches, followed by songs from Tennessee Power & Lights as the judges deliberated. The videos were produced by Loch & Key Productions and Pitchwire and were filmed in businesses throughout Knoxville. There were also networking sessions at the beginning and end of the event.
The KEC held the virtual event using Lunchpool, a virtual event company. Read more about them here in this teknovation.biz article. It had 81 participants at the high point. The event was also streamed on Facebook Live.
WTBI was sponsored by The Development Corporation of Knox County, Harper Auto Square, The IT Company, Loch & Key Productions, Pitchwire, Lunchpool, Second Bell Music Festival, and Larsen and Adrian Jay.