By Kailyn Lamb, Marketing Content Writer and Editor, PYA
PrepWizard was announced as the first prize winner of the 2022 PYA-sponsored “Tom Ballard Innovation Award” during a presentation at PYA’s headquarters yesterday. Finalists Winter Innovations and RegScale were the first and second runners-up, respectively.
PrepWizard has developed an innovative, automated food prep label system that can not only help restaurants with food expiration accuracy, but also save them time and money. As the first-prize winner, PrepWizard receives a combination of $50,000 in capital and in-kind services from PYA. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Look for a more detailed overview of the company in tomorrow’s edition of teknovation.biz.)
Winter Innovations, a company that helps improve the speed and quality of stitching used in ligament and tendon reconstruction surgery, will receive $10,000 worth of in-kind strategy support. RegScale, a business that mitigates risk by automating systems to ensure compliance, will receive $5,000 worth of in-kind support.
In the first year of the award, the first place winner was 490 BioTech, while the runners-up were Eonix LLC and Ascend Manufacturing respectively. The latter two are alums of the “Innovation Crossroads” program operated by Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Numerous applications were received, and the winners were selected by a distinguished panel of area business leaders and entrepreneurial mentors. This year’s judges were Mark Deathridge, Owner, ETMC Corp.; Nadim Jubran, President, InLieu; Misty Mayes, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Management Solutions; Lisa Stowers Rottman, President, Stowers Machinery; and Wayne Wilson, Chief Financial Officer, Malibu Boats.
The award is the largest combination of cash and in-kind services available to East Tennessee start-ups. It recognizes early-stage companies that demonstrate great promise and an innovative focus, and reinforces the “HELP” mantra embodied by PYA, also a start-up launched nearly four decades ago.
PYA President and CEO Marty Brown said the firm’s contribution is meant to encourage companies to come to the East Tennessee area. “We want companies that start here to stay here, and those that move here to love here. This year’s honorees represent both sides of that formula,” he added.
“PrepWizard is a growing company, with an expanding client base, founded here in Knoxville. It recognized a ‘pain point’ within the restaurant industry, then developed a technological solution that is already creating efficiencies for thousands of restaurants,” Brown said. “The Ballard Innovation Award enables us to recognize the entrepreneurial spirit of companies like PrepWizard, helping them to continue to grow and thrive in our community and beyond.”
PrepWizard is a father-and-sons operation. Employing industry technology, PrepWizard replaces hand-written restaurant food labels with printed ones, saving staff hundreds of labor hours annually. Because the system is automated, expiration dates on the labels are also more accurate than handwritten ones. You can learn more about them in our feature story in tomorrow’s edition of teknovation.biz.
“We’re very surprised. The competition for this award was very stiff,” said Founder Doug Harris. “We were amazed and very thankful to win this award.”
He added that PrepWizard is on the front end of a wave of restaurants adapting to new technologies, and they are looking forward to PYA’s strategic support as the company prepares to launch new industry solutions.
The livestream of the event can be found here.
Look for more information on the announcement of the 2023 “Tom Ballard Innovation Award” this fall.
Captions: Photo 1: PYA Director of Business Alliances Larsen Jay, center, speaks at the presentation for the 2022 “Tom Ballard Innovation Award.” Photo 2: PYA President and CEO Marty Brown speaks at the podium at the “Tom Ballard Innovation Award” event. Photo 3: Tom Ballard preparing to open an envelop announcing one of the runners-up for the award. Photo 4: The Winter Innovations team were the first runners-up for this year’s award. Photo 5: RegScale were the second runners-up for the award.