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December 17, 2015 | Tom Ballard

TVBA, Brown and Roberto hosting fourth annual “Veteran-Focused Business Plan Competition”

TVBA INVESTBy Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.

It will be a tough act to repeat, but Jonathan Williams says the Tennessee Veterans Business Association (TVBA) plans to do so when it hosts its fourth annual “Veteran-Focused Business Plan Competition” in conjunction with the organization’s annual Expo.

The official name of the competition is INVEST, and it is open to any veteran-owned business that is three years old or younger. The business plan competition will be part of the day-long Expo set for January 26 at the Holiday Inn World’s Fair Park.

“We had the best set of companies we have ever had last year,” Williams told us recently. In fact, the competition was so strong in 2015 that prize monies were awarded to three companies – Rockhopper ZSG, Shockwave Motors, and Clear Image Solutions.

The Lawyers of Brown & Roberto sponsored the annual $5,000 prize the first three years and will do so again in 2016. With so keen a competition last year, Eric Barton of Vanquish Worldwide stepped-in to provide funds for two additional winners. He is a military veteran whose company is involved in logistical support for the military.

TVBA is again working with the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC) to provide an optional mini-boot camp from 6 to 9 p.m. January 6, 13 and 16. Three finalists will be announced January 19. Those interested in applying can click here or view the TVBA flyer (TVBA 2016 Business Plan). For more information on the conference itself, click here.

We have recently posted updates on about Shockwave Motors that can be found through our search feature. In addition to illustrate the value of the competition, we checked-in with Jay Crawford, Founder and Chief Executive of Rockhopper ZSG, LLC, one of last year’s winners. His company is marketing a product named NextDocVisit.

We asked Crawford, a local Orthopedic Surgeon, four questions.

  • Compared to where you were in January, what specific progress have you made in your new venture? We have grown from two to five people – added an investor who now serves as Chairman, a President, and a Sales Manager. We have doubled our customer base. We have moved the corporate headquarters to Powered Health in Nashville. We have added New Jersey to our presence and are looking at California, Alaska, Oregon, Minnesota, and North Carolina.
  • What have been your biggest challenges in the past 12 months? All of those things were challenging, but adding an investor was probably the most challenging because doing it right involves so much communication, planning, and due diligence.  But, properly executing on that de-risks the company a ton by adding so much to the team value.
  • What are your specific goals for 2016? First, 500 percent topline growth, two to three additional employees, platform update to maximize scalability, and the addition of seven of 22 planned development modules that will increase product value/functionality enormously.
  • Looking back, how would you describe the value of winning the TVBA competition? The biggest value for me was the preparation/boot camp done at KEC. For young companies where capital is not a severe limitation, nothing beats exposure to other entrepreneurs who are willing to listen and help. The money was good, but mostly for the prestige/psychological benefit.

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