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Student ideas rewarded with cash in latest “Vol Court” pitch competition

Three innovative ideas from University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) students captured the top prizes during the fall edition of the “Vol Court Speaker Series & Pitch Competition” that wrapped-up Wednesday night.

Hosted by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI), the winners were a mobile app to scan perishable foods, a dual-functioning automotive window tint and a straw that detects drink tampering. The pitch competition came during the fifth session of the twice-a-year event where successful entrepreneurs share their experiences during the first three nights, and the fourth session is focused on tips on pitching before the finale.

  • Fresh Now, a mobile app that allows users to scan perishable food items and receive notifications when the expiration dates are approaching, captured first place and $1,500. The app also suggests meals that incorporate the scanned items, giving priority to the ingredients that will expire soonest.
  • Second place and $1,000 went to SeaShade, a dual-functioning automotive window tint that changes opacity. The product is created from recycled marine plastic materials that run on renewable energy. SeaShade’s Founder is Anthony Do, a freshman finance major from Chattanooga.
  • Safe Sip, a straw that changes colors if a drink has been tampered with, received third place and $500. Tanner Hawkins, a senior management major from Corryton, is the Founder of Safe Sip.

Pictured at right is Fresh Now Founder Taylor Gingrich (center) flanked by Sea Shade’s Do on her left and Safe Sip’s Hawkins on her right.

“Vol Court” is one of three programs helping student entrepreneurs advance their start-up ideas. The others are the “Graves Business Plan Competition” and the “Boyd Venture Challenge.”

“Getting to be a part of Vol Court and learn more about entrepreneurship from people in Knoxville has inspired me so much,” said Fresh Now’s Gingrich, a senior industrial engineering major from Dayton, Ohio. “This money will allow the research and development of the Fresh Now app to continue and hopefully get a prototype version launched.”

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