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January 03, 2022 | Tom Ballard

PART 2: Three more entrepreneurs share hopes for ecosystem, their ventures

(EDITOR’S NOTE: We asked individuals who had been spotlighted in the past year or so in two questions ahead of the dawn of 2022. One concerned their hopes for their local entrepreneurial ecosystem, the other about their aspirations for their company. This is the second article in a series capturing their responses.)  

The third, fourth and fifth respondents to our questions were Wanda Malhotra, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Root Journey; Travis Howerton, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer at C2 Labs that recently spun out RegScale, where he serves a similar role; and Eric Mayer, Chief Executive Officer of EDP Biotech Corporation.

As described in this recent article, Root Journey is focused at the intersection of natural personal care products and living a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. RegScale, announced at the end of November (see article here), is a new is focused on delivering continuous compliance automation for highly regulated public and private sector entities. EDP Biotech is commercializing ColoPlexTM, an inexpensive blood test that accurately detects early stage colorectal cancer and pre-cancerous polyps at the stage where such early detection leads to the best patient outcomes.

What one or two wishes do you have for the entrepreneurial ecosystem where you and your start-up are located?

  • MALHOTRA: Our two wishes for the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem are to have: (1) high impact and well-funded programs supporting women and minority-owned businesses; and (2) co-creation of more “think global, act local” sustainable initiatives with global expansion and scalability potential.
  • HOWERTON: My two wishes are: (1) better access to capital without the need to seek outside funding from other larger cities (we are currently funded mostly by the Washington, DC market); and (2) lower price flights to support bringing customers on-site or to support sending sales people to meetings.  Our costs are prohibitive at the Knoxville Airport so all of our sales hiring is in DC now.
  • MAYER: My wish for this region is to increase our investor risk tolerance (individual investors and funds). Yes, there is capital in the region that can be accessed by start-ups and early stage companies, but it is concentrated in a tiny handful of pockets and deployed sparingly. We understand investors desire to find and fund the lowest risk opportunities, however, it is the spirit of taking chances – “high risk, high reward” that will build Knoxville into a high-tech, innovative, fast growth ecosystem.

What specific aspirations/goals do you have for your start-up in 2022?

  • MALHOTRA: Our goals for 2022 are to raise our first round of funding; expand our product line; finalize our drafts to build our plant in Knoxville, TN and increase our international outreach.
  • HOWERTON: Our aspirations for 2022 are to: (1) continue Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) growth and hit revenue targets; (2) raise our Series A round to super charge growth; (3) hire and train engineering and sales talent to round out our team; and (4) deliver our feature roadmap to build on our competitive lead and key differentiators in the market.
  • MAYER: My specific goals for EDP Biotech in 2022 are to achieve at least 150 percent revenue growth over 2021 and create skilled jobs/increase technical team size by 50 percent.

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