Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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September 26, 2012 | Tom Ballard

Record crowd helps launch Vol Court’s fall session

About 60 people filled Room 201 of the Haslam Business Administration Building late Tuesday for the kickoff of the fall edition of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s (UTK) Vol Court Pitch Competition.

Most of the attendees were UTK students with a handful of faculty, staff and community citizens also in the group.

“It’s the best turnout yet,” said Joy Fisher, Managing Director of the activity for UTK’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI). Vol Court is sponsored by ACEI, UT Federal Credit Union, UT Research Foundation, and Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.

Fisher told the crowd that the latest Vol Court program will “be focusing more on a business model than a business plan. A business model is all about creating value, while a business plan can be static.”

She added that “a business model forces you to constantly connect with your customers.”

Vol Court is a seven-week series with one-hour sessions focused on a variety of entrepreneurial topics. The last session, which will run longer than 60 minutes, is the pitch event where class members can present their ideas to a panel of judges for prizes.

During Tuesday’s kickoff, the attendees heard from two entrepreneurs – Aron Beierschmitt of Foundation Games (see story that follows) and William Milam of SensorMed. They related their experiences as entrepreneurs and answered a number of questions from the attendees.

Another feature of the kickoff session included one-minute idea presentations by the first-year students who comprise the inaugural “Entrepreneurship LLC,” a cohort of students interested in entrepreneurship who live together in a section of Hess Hall and learn together.

Perhaps the line of the night came from one of those students who reminded the group of the following quote: “If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to build theirs.”

Vol Court meets from 5:L15 to 6:15 p.m. Tuesdays in Room 201 of the Haslam Building. The schedule for the remaining sessions is:

  • October 2 – Part 1 of the business model hypothesis.
  • October 9 – Part 2 of the business model hypothesis.
  • October 16 – Testing the hypothesis.
  • October 23 – Finding investors at the right time.
  • October 30 – Preparing the “pitch.”
  • November 6 – “Pitch Competition.”

Those interested in learning more should contact Fisher at 865/974-0520 or

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