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March 08, 2020 | Tom Ballard

UTK student start-ups selected for four different upcoming pitch competitions

It’s going to be a busy month or so for three student start-ups from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) pending any cancellations or travel bans due to the coronavirus.

Two are among eight finalists – that’s 25 percent of the participants – selected to compete for the $25,000 first prize in the University of Georgia’s “Collegiate Great Brands Competition” set for 5 to 8:30 p.m. March 28. The two are:

  • Andy’s Beekeeping, founded by Andy Swafford, and the winner of the lifestyle category in the Haslam College of Business’ “Graves Business Plan Competition” in Spring 2019 as well as being a second place finisher in the “Vol Court Speaker Series & Pitch Competition” in Fall 2019. The company provides all-natural honey and beeswax products.
  • Rolling Storage, founded by Caleb Winders, won the growth category of the “Graves Competition” in Spring 2019 and first place in “Vol Court” a year ago. The start-up provides a secure storage option for individuals who inadvertently bring unacceptable or oversized items to sporting events or concerts that are not permitted through security.

In addition, Erica Grant, Founder of Quantum Lock Technologies LLC, has been selected to compete in three different competitions. As previously reported here, she has been scheduled to leave later this week for the “Stu Clark Investment Competition” set for Friday and Saturday at the University of Manitoba. Total prize money is a little less than $50,000. However, it was unclear late Friday how she might be able to participate with the ban on international travel that UTK announced on Thursday. One option, pending approval of the organizers of the Stu Clark event, could be by videoconferencing. Other options are being explored.

In addition to the Canadian event, Grant has been added to two more competitions:

  • One is the very prestigious “Rice Business Plan Competition” set for March 26-28. There is more than $1.5 million in prize money up for grabs, either investment, cash, or in-kind.
  • The other is the “2020 Heartland Challenge,” hosted by the University of Arkansas’ Sam M. Walton College of Business, on April 20 and 21 in Bentonville, AR. This one has $135,000 in prize money.

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