Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
May 16, 2023 | Tom Ballard

VOL COURT | Securing a boat trailer

Blake Norris has owned several boats and, like many individuals, he's launched his boat at various locations and is always very mindful of the security of the trailer. The device he's invented - Chock-It - adds a new layer of security for the trailer owner.

If you are a boat owner who launches your boat at various locations, you probably are very mindful of the security of the trailer that you use.

“With common tools, you can easily break a standard trailer lock,” says Blake Norris, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) student entrepreneur behind a device named Chock-It that captured second place and $1,000 in the Spring edition of the “Vol Court Speaker Series & Pitch Competition.” The twice-a-year event is hosted by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation (ACEI) in the Haslam College of Business.

Just weeks later, Norris won again in the “Graves Business Plan Competition,” another event organized by the ACEI. There, he captured third place and $2,000 in the growth category for the device.

“Chock-It helps people,” Norris says simply, knowing the challenges of security for boat trailers. He’s owned a number of boats in his young life.

Originally thinking the security device would be pneumatically powered, Norris (pictured here) shifted his thinking to one powered by the towing vehicle itself.

He describes it as “coming around your wheels like a boot,” adding that it needs to be “as simple as possible to avoid user errors” while also ensuring securing for the trailer owner. Norris is in the midst of fabricating a minimum viable product that can be installed and tested.

“I’m trying to figure out the next steps,” he says. In that vein, Norris is drawing on the advice of Shawn Carson, a longtime advisor to entrepreneurs and now a Lecturer in the Haslam College. Those conversations range from what’s the most realistic segment to enter to pursuit of a patent.

“I need funds, time and guidance,” Norris says.

He was born in Austin, TX but grew up in Oak Ridge where he was raised by his grandparents. They were well-known in the residential construction industry – Rivers Run was one development, and the young Norris worked in the business. He learned everything from bookkeeping and business management to operating excavators and driving trucks.

“That taught me things I needed to know . . . much more than my peers,” Norris said. Working for his grandparents was clearly a life-changing experience.

“My grandfather was my mentor,” he adds. Unfortunately, the grandfather died right before achieved what Norris describes as the “biggest accomplishment in my life” – earning recognition as an Eagle Scout.

Norris originally enrolled at UTK with the goal of earning a degree in mechanical engineering but has shifted to management.

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