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June 10, 2014 | Tom Ballard

“Southland” launched in Nashville, region well-represented

SouthlandBy Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.

Tuesday was the first full day for the second iteration of “Southland,” the conference focused on start-ups that brought national investors to Nashville to mingle with some of Tennessee’s entrepreneurial stars. The event is co-hosted by Launch Tennessee and PandoDaily.

The event was sold out with a project attendance of 750 individuals. Here are some snapshots from Tuesday’s opening day that featured onstage conversations with a distinguished set of leaders, pitches by five companies seeking the $100,000 top prize, and “Southland Village” that featured a variety of organizations – from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to the state’s technology accelerators and numerous start-up companies.


When we first entered the Marathon Music Works venue, we met an individual who commented, “Everyone I’ve met is from either Knoxville or Chattanooga.” That statement was validated throughout the day as we identified a large contingent from Knoxville that included, in no particular order:

  • Representatives of Knoxville start-ups in “Southland Village” – Brian Strong and Chris Van Beke of Vendor Registry, Patrick Hunt of Fiveworx, and Chuck Witkowski of Hubble Telemedical.
  • Other local entrepreneurs like Michael Crain (Vuture), Joy Fisher (Clodico), Jian Huang and Steve Chin (Survature), and Austin Church (
  • Representatives from the start-up support system – John Morris and Shawn Carson of Tech 20/20; Jim Biggs, Jonathan Sexton and Emily Skaar of the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (LEC); and Lynn Youngs of the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Tennessee (UT).
  • Community leaders like Rhonda Rice (Knoxville Chamber) and Christi Branscom (City of Knoxville).
  • Representatives from the two creators of intellectual property in the Knoxville/Oak Ridge region – Mike Paulus and Jesse Smith (ORNL), Maha Krishnamurthy and Patrick Reynolds (UT Research Foundation), and John Hopkins (TN-SCORE).
  • Representatives from Knoxville’s investment community – Grady Vanderhoofven (Meritus Ventures), Eric Dobson (Angel Capital Group), and Scott Ewing (Venture Incite).

Chattanooga also had a strong presence with representatives like David Belitz (Chattanooga Renaissance Fund and The Enterprise Center, to name two), Ben Brown (SwiftWing Ventures), Tiffanie Robinson (Waypaver), Travis Truett (Ambition), and Mike Bradshaw (CO.LAB).


Jim Biggs and the KEC team are offering a special opportunity for “Southland” attendees that also showcases the uniqueness of Street Jelly and Vuture, two of its “MediaWorks Accelerator” start-ups. During the “Southland Village” activities yesterday afternoon, attendees could record a “video for the future,” a combination of words that describes the company’s name – Vuture. The concept is to record a video for future viewing. Anyone who recorded a video yesterday and distributed it can return today, demonstrate that they distributed it, and win a tee shirt. During the “Southland Village” activities this afternoon, musicians can learn how to produce and distribute their own concerts, utilizing Street Jelly. Both companies have been profiled previously on teknovation – Vuture here and Street Jelly here.


The former Vice President, well-known for his involvement in technology, was the opening act for a conversation with Sarah Lacy of the co-sponsoring PandoDaily publication. We will post a separate story on this interesting give and take.


Sammy Lowdermilk launched the “100 Days of Code” program in Memphis on Monday, but said he was taking a two-day break to attend “Southland.” The program resumes Thursday in Jackson.


“We’ve been invited to present to two angel groups over the next two weeks,” Joy Fisher of Clodico said. Her goal is to have a syndicate of angels for the Oak Ridge-based start-up.

That’s it for today. We’ll post more snapshots on Thursday.

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