Four student start-ups are winners in latest “Boyd Venture Fund” challenge

The Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI) at the University of Tennessee’s (UT) Knoxville campus has announced the winners of its latest “Boyd Venture Fund” challenge.

Three student-owned ventures split $25,000 in seed funding grants, and the UT Research Foundation offered space in the UT incubator to a fourth competitor. The space is valued at $3,000. Since the fund’s inception in 2011, 11 student-owned companies have been awarded a total of $87,500 in seed capital to achieve milestones that advanced their businesses.

The spring 2013 winners were:

  • SummerSett Foods, a manufacturer and distributor of a line of frozen buffalo chicken dip that can go directly from the freezer to the microwave and previously profiled on teknovation.biz at https://www.teknovation.biz/2012/10/15/5241/.
  • Escadrille Cycling Apparel, a clothing company that specializes in high-end custom cycling apparel that improves functionality for cycling enthusiasts that was also profiled on teknovation.biz at https://www.teknovation.biz/2013/05/02/humble-cycling-start-up-naturally/.
  • PTlink, a software company that allows the physical therapist and the patient to connect more frequently  insuring faster and more effective recovery.
  • Anna’s Armoire, a Facebook-based, fixed-price jewelry and apparel merchandiser where buyers log into the site once a week to purchase limited quantity items.

“Creating new local businesses is the cornerstone to a community’s success,” said fund benefactor Randy Boyd, President and Chief Executive Officer of Radio Systems Corp. “These businesses create jobs, pay taxes that fund other investments such as education, and support the local community with philanthropy. I cannot imagine a better return on investment than supporting future generations of entrepreneurs.”

Boyd Venture Fund grants are available to any UT Knoxville student-owned business and are awarded each spring and fall.

Profiles provided by ACEI on each company follow.

SummerSett Foods, LLC, founded by Jake Rheude (Marketing ’14), markets a line of frozen buffalo chicken dips. Typical of many entrepreneurial endeavors, the company came about as a result of the founder wanting a product that wasn’t available. When Jake arrived in Knoxville, he discovered that dips he had been familiar with in Cincinnati were not available in Knoxville.  Seeing an opportunity, he and a business partner at the time set out to create and market a line of frozen buffalo chicken dips.  The products have been developed, a local packager has been found and this award from the Boyd Venture Fund will allow SummerSett Foods to develop in-store merchandising materials to pursue contracts with local grocery store chains.

Escadrille Cycling Apparel, formally Privateer Cycling Apparel, was founded by Jordan Humble (Global Politics and Economics ’13) who has created a line of high-end cycling apparel. Jordan, who has been on the US cycling team and raced in Europe, lamented that aside from a fabric change in the 1970’s cycling apparel hadn’t changed in a hundred years. He set out to change that by connecting with world class sporting apparel designers. Currently prototypes are being sown in LA but Jordan, who is from Chattanooga, intends to move production to East Tennessee in the future. When asked to describe his company in a few words, he describes it as “high-end” cycling apparel designed by cyclists for cyclists. His Boyd Venture Fund award will allow him to move forward with prototype development and marketing.

PTlink, LLC was founded by two biomedical engineering majors, Collin Howser (’14) and Trevor Geieco (’14). The interactive mobile app connects the patient to the clinician to improve communication and recovery in a rehabilitation setting. The app has two components – the clinical aspect has a simple interface, where the clinician can create a rehab program, and a patient graphic user interface that allows the patient to step through the therapy electronically. The patient and the clinician are “linked” to improve the entire process. The Boyd Venture Fund award will allow the founders to do extensive market research to validate or modify the product features.

Anna’s Armoire, founded by Anna Gilbert (Retail and Consumer Science ’14), is an on-line Facebook-based, fixed-price, jewelry and apparel merchandiser with an interesting twist. Anna locates unique jewelry and apparel, photographs it, and posts it on her Facebook page. On Sunday at 9:00PM (eastern), the site goes live and customers can log in to buy the limited quantity merchandise.  Each picture shows the price and the quantity available for sale. Pictures change every 1-2 minutes. To buy, the customer comments “sold” on the picture.

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