Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
April 17, 2022 | Tom Ballard

This week’s “News & Notes” feature has items from all parts of the state

From Johnson City:

FoundersForge has issued a reminder that the support organization for “underdog entrepreneurs” in the Appalachian Highlands region is still accepting applications for its sixth annual pitch competition for very early stage individuals. Scheduled for 6 p.m. EDT May 26 at the TVA Credit Union Ballpark in Johnson City, the event will offer $10,000 in prizes. Criteria for applying are as follows:

  • Reside and/or be headquartered in the Appalachian Highlands region (NE Tennessee);
  • Be either in the concept or an early stage of the start-up;
  • Have revenues under $2,000 per month (MRR) for established start-ups;
  • Need a tech component (website, app, production process, etc.);
  • Be able to attend at least one-half of the four to six planned pre-pitch workshops that will be held in the evening; and
  • Be willing to sign the FoundersForge media release form.

The organizers add that those who are unsure about any of these requirements should “apply and we can discuss!” The application can be found here.

From Nashville:

  • Nashville Inno reported exclusively that the more than 100 investors that comprise the Nashville Capital Network (NCN) have committed more than $70 million to the group’s newest fund. That total is more than double NCN most recent fund that was announced in 2017. Perhaps even more significant is the fact that the new fund is equal to about 75 percent of what NCN has invested during its 19-year existence. In its article (subscription required), Nashville Inno quoted Sid Chambless, Executive Director and Managing Partner, as saying the NCN “expects to invest in 13 to 15 start-ups with the new funding over the next four years.”
  • Max Mona and Adam Jace, students in the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University, won first place in the annual “Student Pitch Competition” for representatives from the 14 schools that comprise the current Southeastern Conference. Their start-up, named ESGi, is a web application that helps companies and funds assess, educate and integrate themselves with environmental, social, and governance best practices. Click here to learn more about their journey that began at The Wond’ry.

From Knoxville:

Launch Tennessee spotlighted Winter Innovations last week in its weekly The Pitch newsletter. Co-founded by Lia Winter and Preston Dishner while graduate students at the University of Tennessee (UT), Knoxville, the start-up placed second in last month’s PYA-sponsored “Tom Ballard Innovation Award” competition (see article here). As described in the Q&A, Winter Innovations is in the midst of commercializing its first product – EasyWhip™, a fast, simple, versatile stitching needle for orthopedic tendon and ligament repair surgery.

From Chattanooga:

  • Kim Seals, General Partner at The JumpFund, is a new member of the Board of Directors of Venture Atlanta.
  • The Enterprise Center (EC) has created Chattamatters as a new media platform we have created to help people in Hamilton County engage with local government and local issues. In an email last week, the EC suggested some questions that might be of interest: Why has homelessness skyrocketed? Why is rent so high? How can I participate in public meetings? “We’ll answer these questions, and many more,” the organization says about its new storytelling project to promote agency in the community through digital engagement. Interested parties can sign-up for the weekly newsletter here.

From Cookeville:

The Biz Foundry has announced plans to hold a two-day “Etsy Entrepreneurship Program” next month at its Sparta location. Scheduled from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. CDT May 14 and 15, the course is designed to help those who make custom jewelry, decorative home items, or other handmade products take the next step in their Etsy journey. The cost is free for residents of White County and $100 per person for others. Here’s the registration link.

From Nashville but Statewide:

The Tennessee Entertainment Commission (TEC), in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Revenue and Department of Economic and Community Development, has announced a new franchise and excise tax credit program designed to advance Tennessee’s entertainment industry by promoting job creation and economic development.

Companies approved as a qualified production can apply for a tax credit generated through resident and non-resident Tennessee payroll expenses and apply for a point of purchase sales tax exemption certificate on non-payroll expenses. Qualified productions include scripted and unscripted television, feature films, video game development, animation, commercials and audio/visual postproduction.

Click here to learn more.

From Memphis:

Richard Magid, Vice President of the UT Research Foundation (UTRF) leading the Memphis office, announced his departure from the organization. “It’s with both excitement and sadness that I’m letting you know that I’m leaving UTRF and Tennessee to take over as head of tech transfer at Colorado State (University) next month,” he wrote in an email to the Life Science Tennessee Board of Directors. “I’ve enjoyed and gotten so much out of working with LSTN and with each of you, and hope that I’ll be able to engage with the Colorado BioScience Association even a fraction as much.”


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