Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
July 08, 2012 | Tom Ballard

Three local entrepreneurs provide updates

We recently had the opportunity to catch-up with three young entrepreneurs whom we have profiled since was launched on January 23.

Two of the three – Dan Close of 490 BioTech and Joe Natour of DineTouch – agreed to participate in the launch of an enhancement to our ­site – video vignettes. Those will be posted soon, so watch for the announcement. The third was Aron Beierschmitt of Foundation Mobile Games; we talked with him by phone.

Close, 490 BioTech’s Chief Scientific Officer, told us that the company has one or two products that are ready for launch now and should be in the market by the end of the third quarter or start of the fourth quarter of 2012. The always effervescent Close said that the company is also narrowing in on an individual to serve as its Chief Executive Officer.

In addition, Close said that those interested in following 490 BioTech can do so through its new Twitter account.

Natour, an equally enthusiastic entrepreneur, is busy preparing for the company’s Beta test in the Sunspot Restaurant on the Cumberland Avenue strip in Knoxville. He praises Randy Burleson, owner of Aubrey’s and several other local restaurants including the Sunspot, for providing the test site that should be operational in about a month.

Natour said that the DineTouch team wants to test its technology in two separate settings which the Sunspot provides. He explained that bars, unlike restaurants, want a credit card at the time of the transaction. While the Sunspot has a very active restaurant, its location also means that it has an equally active bar only clientele.

Both Close and Natour talked more about their start-up companies, their challenges and the advice they would offer other aspiring entrepreneurs in the video vignettes.

Beierschmitt seems to be busier than he was when we interviewed him in late March. One of his new games, “Ravenwood Fair,” has just been submitted to Apple for approval, something he hopes occurs soon (maybe by now).

“That’s a major milestone” for the company, Beierschmitt said.

He’s contemplating two launches over the next couple of months. One will be for “Ravenwood,” starting in Canada, while a global launch of the new “Dropple” will probably occur in September.

“We’re evaluating a lot of partnerships with a number of companies,” Beierschmitt said, adding that he wants to eventually have at least one of his games become as successful as “Angry Birds” so that he can become a publisher of games, not just a developer.

One of the decisions that Beierschmitt was facing when we first interviewed him was the base that he would establish for his company after graduation. While the latter has been pushed until December, the relocation is moving forward. Beierschmitt told us that he is most likely headed for Austin, probably in the next month. His lease on the residence where he is living in Knoxville expires August 7.

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