By Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
The team at Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC) is preparing to welcome a large contingent of supporters from the local region for the “MediaWorks Demo Day” celebration set for August 5.
“We’re incredibly excited by the attention our ‘MediaWorks’ program has received and look forward to introducing nine great digital media start-ups to our community,” said Jim Biggs, Executive Director for KEC.
To help build a crowd for the event, they’ve secured a top-flight keynote speaker – Susan Packard, an author and well-experienced executive in the very industry on which the accelerator is focused. The Knoxville resident most recently served as President of Brand Outreach at Scripps Networks Interactive. She was a Co-Founder and former Chief Operating Officer of HGTV and, at an earlier time in her career, helped found the CNBC network.
“We are so fortunate that Susan has agreed to join us as our keynote, given her phenomenal success as an entrepreneur in the media industry,” Biggs said.
The three-hour event begins at 4 p.m. in the Square Room on Market Square. There is no registration fee, but pre-registration is requested. You can do so by clicking here.
“Demo Day is an opportunity to highlight the progress made by the nine ‘MediaWorks’ start-ups,” according to Biggs. “The teams have worked very hard. It’s also a chance to celebrate our community,” he added in drawing a comparison to last November’s local “Start-up Day.” More than 300 people showed-up for that event.
“‘MediaWorks’ is designed to take advantage of a unique sector and to showcase East Tennessee as a great place for these start-ups,” Biggs said of the media focus. “Many people don’t realize Knoxville is a media town. We want to help make it a destination for others.”
Biggs notes that “MediaWorks” is KEC’s third accelerator, but its first since he assumed the Executive Director’s slot earlier this year.
The August 5 program will also include a welcome by Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, pitches by the nine participating companies, and two videos interspersed between the pitches. One video will focus on the importance of KEC, entrepreneurship and the accelerator program to Knoxville. The other will include vignettes featuring the thoughts of the mentors who worked with the “MediaWorks” start-ups.
With one accelerator under his belt, the Executive Director is considering what comes next.
“We expect that ‘MediaWorks’ will become a signature program for KEC,” Biggs says of the accelerator concept. “It is the focal point for building a stronger start-up community. We want to continue the momentum that has been generated around digital media and develop other programs that take advantage of community assets.”
One of those other areas of strength for the region is energy, while an emerging one is data analytics.
Biggs says “MediaWorks” will be a recurring, sector-specific accelerator that runs once a year and complements a second accelerator program that will likely change focus from year to year.
“We really view digital media as a place for Knoxville and KEC to plant a flag,” he adds.
KEC is also working with Chattanooga-based CO.LAB to host the latter’s “CO.STARTERS” program. That effort, every Monday night for nine weeks, launches August 11 at Junior Achievement Entrepreneur Center located in Clinton. More information is available here.
Biggs is also considering hosting a 48-hour launch, an event normally held on weekends where people with ideas pitch them on a Friday, form companies to develop business plans over the weekend, and pitch their ideas late Sunday.
The nine “MediaWorks” start-ups are:
- Artist Gig
- Street Jelly
- Stuart Jones Media