Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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January 10, 2023 | Tom Ballard

PART 2 | Hopes for 2023

Three local entrepreneurs share their business wishes for the new year.

We asked some of the entrepreneurs we spotlighted in 2022 to share with us their aspirations for their business itself and also for the local entrepreneurial community.

Alex Abell, Founder of Lunchpool, answered as follows after transitioning the virtual events offering outside of the start-up:

  • For the company, “In 2023, I’m looking forward to again pivoting Lunchpool, this time back to communities of practice. Now that we’re on the other side of the shuffle, I’m excited to start the ride all over again. I’ll start 2023 by validating new ways to help people meet online and offline, breaking away barriers for real, meaningful connections.”
  • For the community, “My hope for the ecosystem is that we can find a home to gather together online as a community of microcommunities, and that it will spur more IRL (in real life) meetings than ever before. I think hybrid communities will be big in 2023, and I’m hopeful that Knoxville adopts the trend early.”

Abhishek “Abhi” Sastri, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of FLUIX Inc., answered as follows:

  • For the company, “We are extremely focused on growing a team of world class engineers in nano-tech, fluids, and heat transfer to accelerate our products and implement them with our data center customers. At the same time, maybe even gear up for a launch into microgravity with our private space partners! (Who knows!)”
  • For the community, “My hope is for us to build out a team in East TN, we have outlandish goals, but I know we are not alone in our aspirations.”

Steve Hicks, President and CEO of Cadre5, answered as follows:

  • For the company, “Cadre5 was fortunate to be on the team that was awarded the Information Technology Basic Ordering Agreement for staffing with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). This contract has enabled Cadre5 to add a new division to our company called Cadre5 Lab Partners. We have plans to hire 20+ new staff members into this division in 2023. If you are technical person with interest in supporting ORNL, please reach out to our Program Manager Julianna Presley at
  • For the community, “There is more activity in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem than I can ever remember! Too many new activities, organizations and opportunities that can be listed here. My wish is that these great initiatives can be organized and communicated in such a way that each of them maximizes their potential.”

If you have any New Year’s wishes you want to share, send them to us soon.

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