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April 11, 2016 | Tom Ballard

“Mad, Bad and Dangerous” coming to Knoxville on Mother’s Day weekend

MBD_Logo_OrangeBy Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

How are you going to celebrate Mother’s Day weekend? The Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC) has an idea and, as you might imagine, it has to do with entrepreneurship.

“Mad, Bad and Dangerous” is the name of a day-long women-focused entrepreneurial summit scheduled for Saturday, May 7, the day before the annual recognition of mothers. It will be held at the Southern Railway Station in Downtown Knoxville, beginning with registration at 10:30 a.m. and ending about 4 p.m.

“My mom was my leading role model,” Emily Skaar, KEC’s Director of Entrepreneurship, says. It was inspiration from her mother that helped propel Skaar into entrepreneurship while still a student at the University of Tennessee. In fact she took second place in the “Fall 2013 Vol Court Pitch Competition” for her start-up named The Gifter’s Market. Later Skaar joined KEC to share her passion for entrepreneurship by helping other start-ups.

“The Women’s Entrepreneurial Summit is a way to celebrate those who have done it and challenge others to achieve even bigger and bolder heights.” Skaar explained. “There’s a perception in Knoxville that we don’t have great women entrepreneurs, but that’s not true.”

While the Summit’s focus is on women with a goal of 250 attendees – capacity for the venue, men are welcome.

“We hope some dads will bring their daughters and participate,” Skaar added. “We hope to have at least 50 teens, and we’re targeting the creative ones who like to tinker in class.”

The “Mad, Bad and Dangerous” concept was conceived by Girls Preparatory School (GPS) in Chattanooga which just held its latest summit in March.

“Courtney Jones of MomSource Network was a panelist in 2015 and challenged us to work with her to do something similar in Knoxville,” Skaar explained, adding that KEC licensed the concept from GPS. “We’re the first community to pilot it beyond Chattanooga.”

The goal is to inspire women of all ages, including students, with a combination of inspirational talks, “how to” and “lessons learned” sessions, and even a reverse pitch that precedes a “24-Hour Generator: Girl Edition” on Friday evening.

“Several businesses will present a problem and the teenage girls will work in teams overnight to develop solutions that will be presented during the Summit on Saturday,” Skaar said. The three-minute pitches will be judged with prizes awarded.

Keynote speakers are Ita Ekpoudom, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Tigress Ventures, an advisory and consulting firm focused on female business leaders; and Kelly Hoey, a New York City-based author, investor, and co-founder of a start-up accelerator.

There is no registration fee, but pre-registration is required. You can click here to do so.

Skaar is also seeking sponsors to help defray the costs. Packages are available starting at $1,500 and rising to the top tier at $25,000. Those interested in learning more can contact Skaar at KEC ( or 865/282-4322).

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