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December 20, 2021 | Tom Ballard

Seven student teams share $20,000 in prize money during latest “Graves Business Plan Competition”

Seven University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) student businesses received cash prizes in the fall 2021 “Graves Business Plan Competition.” The event, hosted each semester by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI) in  the university’s Haslam College of Business, awards three levels of prizes in two business categories – “Growth” and “Lifestyle.”

First place in the former category and $5,000 went to FarmCare, the brainchild of Jennifer “Farmer Jen” Durant, a first-year graduate student in a dual-degree program to earn an MBA and a Master’s in Agriculture and Resource Economics. Her idea, which took first place earlier in the semester in the “Vol Court Speaker Series and Pitch Competition” (see post here), is to offer childcare in a farm setting.

Terebinth Jewelry took first place and $5,000 in the “Lifestyle” category. Founder Caleb Ross, a senior aerospace engineering major with a minor in entrepreneurship, has a jewelry line that will offer different settings for one piece of jewelry, an idea that originated in an entrepreneurship class last spring.

Those who also won funding were as follows:

  • “Growth” category – (1) Ethan Andes captured second place and $3,000 for Advanced Propulsion Systems, a zero-emission thrust for use in jet engines; and (2) Caleb Brackney captured third place and $2,000 for Roamer Outpost. He has converted a school bus into a tiny house residence and is currently working on converting a small houseboat into another tiny house.
  • “Lifestyle” category – (1) Lucas Huffman captured second place and $3,000 for MultiBlock, an archery target that is designed to be long-lasting and have interchangeable face plates; and (2) Molly Waugh’s Social Butterfly Social Media Management, focused on small businesses, and Elliott Childress’ Venture Content, focused on providing creative film clips to help businesses with branding, tied for third place in the Lifestyle category and each received $1,000.

“Traveling around the country with the military, my kids and I got to see a lot of childcare businesses, and I realized that what I wanted as a mom just wasn’t available,” Durant said in explaining her idea for FarmCare. “Even more importantly, I saw that the nationwide industry that makes our kids into the people they will become isn’t doing a great job. As a problem solver, I had no choice but to build the solution, and farm-based childcare was born.”

This was the 17th “Graves Business Plan Competition,” named for Tom Graves, the soon-to-be-retired ACEI Director of Operations. Open to UTK students enrolled in undergraduate and master’s degree programs in any field of study, the contest offers student entrepreneurs the opportunity to win start-up funds for original business ideas. An outside panel of judges from the business community reviews the entries and determines the winners.

Click here to read the news release.




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