By Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
Jian Huang and the team at Knoxville start-up Survature could not be any happier than they are about their three-month experience as one of “The TENN” companies.
“We are truly in acceleration mode,” the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) told us in a recent conversation. “Launch Tennessee is helping us do, learn and grow.”
Survature was one of two Knoxville start-ups selected to participate in Launch Tennessee’s inaugural master accelerator that operates under “The TENN” banner. The other local company is Vendor Registry.
“It is hard to talk about our progress without mentioning ‘The TENN,’” Huang said, adding that “Launch Tennessee really opened many doors for us” during the November weeklong trip to San Francisco.
“We got to meet so many new people,” Huang said in citing executives from companies like Google and Microsoft. He was particularly impressed with the insights into how global giants like these two corporations innovate from within.
The California trip also gave Survature an opportunity to network with potential clients, potential investors, and individuals with beneficial advice.
We originally profiled Survature in a teknovation.biz article posted in June. There have been several updates since then, so it was natural that we asked Huang for an update on Survature’s progress.
“We continue to build an even stronger team,” he said, explaining that the team is a collection of experts in software, psychology, design, and intellectual property and business.
Survature is also completing final development of its AnswerCloud survey product with a full Beta launch planned for January.
Even as the team finalizes the Beta version, the company is continuing to work with customers. Huang noted that Survature just completed its biggest project to date with a 6,000-person survey audience.
“We are in the process of developing more pilot projects,” he added. These include discussions with several large organizations.
And, of course, there is the matter of raising capital. The CEO told us that Survature faces the same Catch 22 challenges that most start-ups face, particularly in a region that is not known for its robust venture capital base.
“Raising capital depends on customer development which relies upon having a great product,” Huang noted, adding that “product development can be greatly accelerated with additional capital.”
For Survature, the good news is the opportunity that “The TENN” brought the team.
“Launch Tennessee helped to get Survature onto a big stage that previously did not exist, and to reach networks of fabulous people that the team cannot reach by themselves,” Huang said. “All of the rest falls upon the co-founders – their passion, commitment and hard work.”
One suspects that these traits will allow them to successfully address these chicken and egg problems.