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September 20, 2017 | Tom Ballard

“The Works” graduates seven companies after 12 weeks in KEC’s growth accelerator

The Works Demo Day 3By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Seven companies came together yesterday to celebrate their progress after 12-weeks of participating in the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s (KEC) “The Works” accelerator.

As KEC Executive Director Jim Biggs observed at the beginning of the event, 68 companies have now graduated from the organization’s accelerator programs, and this without a doubt was the most advanced set of companies. That was clearly intentional, as Jonathan Sexton, KEC’s Chief Operating Officer, said during his opening comments.

“We wanted to help them focus on what’s important to growing their business,” he said. “We wanted to create an environment where they could learn from others. Finally, we wanted to stay out of their way.”

The seven companies, with links to our recent articles, were:

Unlike previous demo days, KEC did not invite a speaker to keynote the event. Instead, it had two panel discussions. One was a branding conversation with interns that Sexton moderated. The other was a discussion with representatives of the seven companies, moderated by Bob Camp, “The Works” Lead Mentor, who asked representatives about their experience during the 12 weeks and the long-term impact. Here are our takes from their responses.

  • Flora Ellis of Unveil: “All the brand work has been transformational.”
  • Mac Bartine of SmartRIA: “Things were going well (at SmartRIA), but being able to hit the stop button and focus on two or three things we want to make happen” was great.
  • Bruce Ramshaw of CQ Insights: “It was a great experience. I had never done anything like this before.”
  • Patrick Hunt of Lirio: He described a weekly coaching lunch where he was called upon to outline a key challenge and listen as his colleagues in “The Works” offered suggestions. One of the ideas he cited came from Ellis who told him that he needed to start doing sales demos. “It helped me learn more about the needs of the market,” Hunt said.
  • Jake Cone of Buzzer Intel: “It doesn’t take an hour now for me to explain what we do!” He added the 12-weeks helped him be able to better answer what the company does, how it does what it does, and how Buzzer Intel makes money.
  • Ed MacFawn of BiT Dealership Software: “We are an established business. I liked the emphasis on keeping an eye on the big things to move our business forward.”

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