Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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January 05, 2022 | Tom Ballard

PART 4: Three more start-up Founders share aspirations for 2022

(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 fourth article in a series capturing their responses.)

The eighth, ninth, and 10th respondents to our questions were Erika Biddix, Founder of Aught Entrepreneurs; Trevor McQueen, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Neptune Fluid Flow Systems; and Terrence (TJ) O’Neil, Founder of  HD Clean LLC in Johnson City. The three companies are led respectively by an event planner, an Emeritus Nephrologist with the Veterans Administration, and a member of the “Innovation Crossroads” program operated by Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Aught recently opened its second co-working location in Knoxville that is focused on women with growth plans to expand, while Neptune works in thin-film cryogenic sample preparation, helping freeze biological samples so that they can be better seen under an electron microscope. HD Clean is focused on helping people on dialysis avoid infections in their heart valves resulting from contamination of the central venous catheter line connection or having to transfuse blood because of bleeding due to an unintentional line disconnection during treatment.

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

  • BIDDIX: Aught’s wish for the Knoxville ecosystem is continued growth and collaboration.  We’d love to see an increased focus and understanding of being a community that is inclusive to all entrepreneurs in our area.
  • MCQUEEN: More resources for entrepreneurs who are also parents in terms of mental health support and the like and cheap healthcare plans for small businesses and start-ups.
  • O’NEIL: I would like to see businesses take a more active role in supporting and developing healthcare tech from this region. That could really jumpstart health-tech entrepreneurs in the Appalachian Highlands.

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

  • BIDDIX: We are looking forward to launching our retreat series for female entrepreneurs and also to confirming our first franchisee.
  • MCQUEEN: To make a successful transition from a product only company to one that offers both products and services.
  • O’NEIL: I intend to apply for and win a Phase II SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) with the Air Force for my dialysis safety I also intend to complete an FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) evaluation of my device and create copolymer injection molds for the purpose of making 50-100 pre-production prototypes that can be used for market-evaluation and testing purposes. Ideally, I would like to be able to attend the American Society of Nephrology National Scientific Meeting in November 2022 to showcase my device and obtain potential customer interest and feedback.

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