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April 30, 2024 | Katelyn Keenehan

Seven start-ups selected for “THE WORKS” accelerator

"THE WORKS" is the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center's premier start-up accelerator for early stage software and technology companies.

The Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC) announced the seven companies participating in “THE WORKS” accelerator program. The annual cohort will kick off on June 12, and continue for 12 weeks in the summer. The founders selected for the program will learn from the team at KEC, mentors, and guest speakers. They will also have direct access to potential investors, fundraising professionals, and other active entrepreneurs.

The accelerator will conclude with a Demo Day and reception on September 4.

Meet the Companies


John Derrick founded Authentrics.AI a little under a year ago; however, he is no stranger to entrepreneurship. He has led several start-ups from inception to exit and seeks to do something similar with his newest technology.

John Derrick

Authentrics.AI is a software solution that enables Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, and Neural Network operators to directly measure the impact of training content on their system. In a previous interview with Derrick, he said to think about the software as a “look inside the black box of AI.” His technology will provide quantitative attribution results for data, and allow companies to alter and correct data errors (to remove inaccurate, adverse, or inappropriate content).

Furthermore, Derrick was a top-five finalist for the 2024 PYA Ballard Innovation Award, which took place on April 10.

Travis Howerton, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Co-Founder of Regscale, alongside Zack Webb, the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for Knox County will serve as Derrick’s mentors.


Alex Weber is the Owner and President of D3D XR, which is a company that is dedicated to designing, developing, and publishing augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and extended reality (XR) web applications for entertainment, education, training, and maintenance. The company was founded in 2020 as a way to “push the boundaries of what is possible” in the realm of XR.

Alex Weber

Weber has a background of service in the U.S. Navy, and degrees from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) in Electrical Engineering and Business Administration.

Notably, his company placed first in the 2022 Boyd Venture Challenge, operated by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI), participated in the “22 Alpha” cohort in the Bunker Labs accelerator, pitched in the 2022 Knoxville Start-up Day, and most recently revealed an ongoing VR training platform to help train nurses at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

His mentors for the program are Matthew Park, the Technology Leader at Cirrus Aircraft, and Gary (G.S.) Jackson, a Director Consulting Expert at CGI.

Flock Analytics

Cody Blankenship founded Flock Analytics during his time at UTK. He is a soon-to-be graduate of the Tickle College of Engineering, with a degree in computer science. During his time at the university, he placed first in both the ACEI Graves Business Plan Competition and Vol Court (read previous article).

Cody Blankenship

Flock Analytics offers a web-based analytics platform specifically tailored to the needs of churches, providing comprehensive, out-of-the-box analytics for church leaders to make informed decisions, measure the effectiveness of their programs, and better understand their congregation’s needs and behaviors.

His mentors for “THE WORKS” are Brandon Bruce, the current Managing Director of Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator, and Co-Founder of Uncat, and Creed Huckaby, the Vice President (VP) of Growth for ResultStack.

Human AI

Preston Garland is the Co-Founder and CEO of Human.AI.

Preston Garland
Preston Garland

He is a multi-time founder with several years of experience leading companies including ENTREOS and Appogy.

Human.AI combines human intuition with a powerful proprietary AI to create marketing and social content in a company’s unique voice across all social platforms, custom blogs, and even e-mail marketing. As Garland explained it on stage at KEC’s “What’s the Big Idea” pitch competition, it is “humans helping humans use AI.” It’s important to note that Garland placed first in that “What’s the Big Idea” pitch competition.

His mentors for the program are Gary Jackson and Melissa Centers, a respected consultant, attorney, and advisor.

Applied AI

Applied AI, which was founded by Rob Monday, is a growing applied artificial intelligence startup, building products to help businesses in fragmented industries, including telecommunications, real estate, finance, and retail, leverage AI solutions and realize benefits.

Rob Monday

For example, the homepage of the Applied AI website, shows an example of how intelligent chatbot software can be used for maintenance supervision by landlords, and streamline task allocation for staff members.

Monday has a background in finance. he received his bachelor’s from Clemson, and his Master’s in Business Administration, with a concentration in strategy and finance from Georgia Tech.

Rob Cochran, the former President and CEO of Camping Connections, and Frank Ramey, multi-time Founder of CoWorking Knoxville and Enotto will act as Monday’s mentors.

Personality Pool

Lauren Glass Mullins founded Personality Pool just under five years ago. She has made quite a splash in the HR/ recruiting realm.

Lauren Glass-Mullins
Lauren Glass-Mullins

The company sells a personality screening tool that streamlines the overall hiring process because it allows employers to get to the “people of it all” by helping recruiters quickly answer, “Does the candidate have the right personality that we are looking for to fill this position?”

Personality Pool specifically targets entry-level and customer-facing jobs that are trying to find that perfect personality hire. Glass-Mullins’ goal is to flip the traditional candidate funnel, and help employers find “hidden gems.” So far, the company has been recognized most notably by Launch TN’s “InvestTN” fund and secured a $150,000 investment. It was the first start-up selected for matching funds in the whole state!

Courtney Jones, the Founder of MomSource Network, and Ashleigh Walters, the former President of Onex will serve as her mentors.


Last, but certainly not least, Douglas Mapp and his ThinkUp start-up were selected for “THE WORKS” accelerator.

Douglas Mapp
Douglas Mapp

ThinkUp is a Cognitive Function Skills VR Platform, offering immersive VR experiences designed to provide engaging and effective cognitive training exercises, such as spatial navigation tasks, multitasking simulations, and decision-making scenarios. He believes high performers have great cognitive skills. For example, if an employee is more skilled at paying broad attention, memory, auditory processing, visual processing, fluid reasoning, and making quick well-informed decisions, they will be more likely to excel at the company long term.

Mapp founded ThinkUp a little more than five years ago. His background is in mathematics and computer science, obtaining his bachelor’s degree from Maryville College.

Mapp also participated in cohort four of 100 Knoxville, and pitched ThinkUp at the 2022 Start-up Day in Knoxville

During the 12-week accelerator, he will be mentored by Melissa Centers alongside John Bruck, the Co-Founder of Market Square Ventures, advisor, and long-time investor.

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