Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
July 28, 2013 | Tom Ballard

Tour the state in August, see some of the exciting new start-ups

Are you interested in entrepreneurship and start-up companies? If so, have you considered a driving tour of the state next month? You might be able to combine both interests.

There are at least four opportunities in twoweeks to tour Tennessee’s three grand divisions and attend “graduation” ceremonies at some of the state’s accelerators.

Many of the concentrated boot camps will hold what they call “Demo Day” or “Investor Day” but, regardless of the title, it’s the time when the entrepreneurs who have been engaged in weeks of preparations unveil their new companies and their business plans.

It’s a time of celebration and, in many cases, the opportunity to pitch their ideas to investors.

  • The touring opportunity starts August 6 when Chattanooga’s “Gig Tank” holds its “Demo Day.” Last year’s inaugural event, won by Banyan, was a sellout and a tremendous success. This year’s 100-day boot camp has seven teams building companies that take advantage of Chattanooga’s citywide “gigabit to the home” capability.
  • The next day (August 7) and some 140 miles to the northwest, the “autoXLR8R” holds its event in Spring Hill. Ten companies are participating in this 13-week program held in the former administration building for the Saturn automotive company. Each of the start-ups is focused on developing high-potential technologies for the automotive sector. (Here’s the official release – autoXLR8R.)
  • The third event of the week is about 210 miles west in Memphis. It’s “Investor Day” at the second annual “Zero to 510” accelerator, and it is set for August 8. “Zero to 510” is the first cohort-based medical device accelerator in the country. Six start-ups are involved in the 12-week program that helps prepare them to apply for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 510(k) pre-market notification filing.
  • Nashville’s Jumpstart Foundry, which focuses on healthcare and mobile technology start-ups, holds its event on August 22. Eight companies will present in the new home of The Entrepreneur Center.

A fifth event in Knoxville, billed as an “introduction of the new companies to the community,” was originally set for mid-August in Knoxville, but is likely to be changed. Mike Carroll, who heads the new Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC), told us recently that he would probably delay the “unveiling” until the second boot camp class graduates later in 2013. When KEC does hold its event, Carroll plans a big celebration with a keynote speaker – he’s focused on a Steve Jobs type – and a very popular legenday entertainer.

Space is limited for some of the upcoming events, so contact the accelerator if you actually are interested in attending.


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