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June 12, 2017 | Tom Ballard

PART 4: “Paradigm Challenge” contestant LaKesha Jones focused on healthy food and tea

Knoxville Area Urban League(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth in a series spotlighting the East Knoxville start-ups that are pitching in the upcoming “Paradigm Challenge” competition set for this Saturday {June 17} at the Eternal Harvest Life Center East Campus, 2410 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Festivities begin at 10 a.m., and the public is invited.)

The “Paradigm Challenge” is a Launch Tennessee-supported and Knoxville Area Urban League-led (KAUL) effort to bring new business starts into the East Knoxville community. As noted in this previous article about the program, KAUL has been supported in the programming by a number of organizations including the Knoxville Entrepreneur CenterKnoxville Chamber and its Propel programTennessee Small Business Development Center, and Greater Knoxville SCORE chapter.

We asked the Entrepreneurs who will be pitching their ideas to answer a set of questions. Today, we feature LaKesha Jones who succinctly answered the questions about A Spot of Tea.

  • Tell us about yourself and, if applicable, your other team members . . . names(s), background(s), experience, etc. I have a B.A. in Business and an M.A.ED in Human Resource Development. I owned a janitorial service for nine years, of which the last 5 years yielded a profit.
  • Describe the focus of your start-up and the problem you are trying to address. The focus of my start-up is to create a place where people can come and enjoy a nice cup of tea or other beverage and a nice healthy meal in a relaxing setting. (It’s) a place where people can hold small meetings or be alone to work on projects or just simply relax. One problem we are trying to address is the lack of healthy food options in East Knoxville.
  • How did the idea to start the company originate? What was the catalyst? The idea originated while I was running errands one day in East Knoxville, and there were no places to eat and the ones that were available did not offer healthy choices. There was also not a place to sit and relax and enjoy a cup of hot tea. All of the places in East Knoxville are barbeque places, fast food or fried food options.
  • What was the impetus for applying to participate in the Paradigm Challenge? Honestly, the $10,000. With that investment, I can create A Spot of Tea. I am also enjoying the knowledge that I am receiving. It is helping me think deeper about my business so that I will be successful.
  • What has been the greatest value the programming and mentoring have provided thus far? The lessons on the financial piece of the business – knowing the numbers inside and out.
  • What do you expect to accomplish by the June 17 Demo Day? I expect to win.

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