By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
The team behind “Startup Tri-Cities” has made some changes since our last article and teamed-up with the “Small Business Festival Tri-Cities” to have next week’s “Pitches & Pints” serve as a signature event for the three-day spotlight on small businesses.
“We’ve reorganized into a 501(c)(6) membership organization,” David Nelson, one of “Startup Tri-Cities” Founders, told us last week. “We will remain as a flat organization that encourages others to host their own events. This (new) structure helps with sponsorships.”
Nelson describes the membership in “Startup Tri-Cities” as diverse. There are those who have just started a venture, others who have been at it for a few years, and some who are seasoned veterans in the entrepreneurial space.
“That diversity really makes a difference,” he said.
On the call with Nelson was Brad Batt, a business executive in the region and one of the organizers of the “Small Business Festival” (SBF) that is set for May 9-11.
“We’re kicking-off SBF with ‘Pitches & Pints’ on May 9,” Batt said, adding that the bulk of the activities will be held on the last day (May 11). “It will be both information and inspiration.”
The schedule of workshops was still being finalized when we talked, but details about the “Pitches & Pints” event are becoming clearer. Nelson says eight companies will pitch at the event that begins at 6:30 p.m. May 9 at The VENUE at King Centre in Johnson City.
“There will be live voting along with a cash prize of $1,000,” Nelson said. In addition, several firms are offering professional services to the winner.
“My goal is to see more companies start and stay here,” Batt said of his involvement in both events. He operates his company – BlueZebra Sports – out of Johnson City’s Spark Plaza co-working center. There are two services provided under the BlueZebra banner. One is Assignr.com, a tool to assign sports officials, and Officiating.com, a complementary tool.
The start-ups scheduled for next week’s “Pitches & Pints” and their ideas are as follows:
- Unboxed Reality, LLC – Chace Vineski. “My business partner, Chris Fraser, and I will be pitching our reality capture company. We capture real-life environments via our blend of proprietary software, hardware and techniques. Our advanced reality capture solutions are designed to support any industry that uses, modifies, communicates about, or markets real-world places.”
- Civic365 – Muneer Uddin, This is a mobile application aimed at providing a platform for our voices, resources for our choices, and data to reshape our politics.
- Smart World– Steve Nice. SmartWorld is a new marketplace featuring certified safe, sustainable products.
- Booch Bus – Susan Crowther. This is a mobile beverage truck, selling Kombucha, Kava and other healthy elixirs (and healthy snacks) in JC and surrounding areas.
- Grassy Ridge Coffee – Jeff Rainey. He describes it as “AI (artificial intelligence) meets coffee. Grassy Ridge Coffee ships fresh, delicious, specialty coffee to your home within 48 hours of roasting. The exciting part is the software I am developing. This system will learn from your choices and ratings to deliver coffee options that you will love. As the software becomes more sophisticated, it could be applied to other industries.
- OnTrack – Tomas Hill, an East Tennessee State University iBucs competitor, has developed an AI-based algorithm for predicting the success/failure of any crowd-funded project campaign.
- Smart Packaging for the Visually Impaired – Caitlin Emond. The idea involves utilizing technology currently available for smart glasses to assist the visually impaired. This will be accomplished by using something similar to QR code scanning technology. The key difference is that the technology will be integrated into the entirety of the product packaging, essentially making the packaging a composition of scannable code.
- Internet Café – Christopher Day. He wants to build an internet cafe centered around cultivating the popularity of gaming and creative networks into one location.