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March 12, 2023 | Tom Ballard

“Vol Court” winner pitches in-home security system for older citizens living alone

Twelve students pitch their ideas in latest edition of the program. Peace of AI captured first place and $1,500.

An in-home security system for older citizens, a chocking device to prevent boat trailers from being stolen, and a pumped storage solution captured the top three places in the finale of the five-week Spring Edition of the “Vol Court Speaker Series & Pitch Competition.”

Organized by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI) in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business, last Wednesday evening’s event featured 12 students pitching their ideas following four sessions where they heard from seasoned entrepreneurs on everything from social media to intellectual property and preparing to pitch.

Peace of AI captured first place and $1,500. Josie Rich, a junior computer science major and Nashville native, pitched the in-home security system that provides “peace of mind” for families by ensuring their loved one is safe and healthy when living alone at home. The system uses artificial intelligence to detect when someone has fallen.

Placing second was Chock-It which took home $1,000. Founded by Blake Norris, a junior management major from Oak Ridge, it is an automatic trailer chocking system that combats and prevents theft, something that Norris said he had experienced. Third place and $500 went to Kyle Weiss, an energy science and engineering graduate student from Seattle, WA, who pitched Elev8 Hydro. He described the system, for which he has secured a provisional patent, as an innovative use of water ram pumps in pumped storage facilities that minimizes environmental impacts and reduces pumped storage costs. By leveraging this known technology, the company’s solutions increase grid stability and enhance cost effective large-scale energy storage.

“Vol Court gives students an opportunity to challenge themselves and build their resumes in a unique way,” said Robyn Geron, ACEI’s Director of Operations. “The emphasis is on learning throughout the speaker series and the pitch process, not just whether they win the competition.”

The other nine competitors and their ideas were:

  • Cameron Manor who presented NIDeal that helps non-athletes like artists and musicians capitalize on the wave of interest in name, image and likeness;
  • Alex Casey who pitched Quick Fit that allows individuals to quickly adjust the size of their jackets through incorporation of a technology called the bio flex system;
  • Kaitlyn Daniels who is in business with a company named Peak Me Up that utilizes discarded plastic as the raw material for jewelry;
  • Ian Parten, a musician, who pitched the idea for an algorithm that would help performing artists secure more engagements;
  • Andrew Koontz who is also in business – in his case for five years – that procures, services, and sells cars that parents purchase for their children, normally the latter’s first automobile;
  • Wesley Pitts who presented an idea named collaborate to help entrepreneurs connect with each other and also resource providers;
  • Collin Hudgins who pitched Dishmagic, a unique dishwasher that also comes with its customized dishes and cutlery;
  • Josef Govednik who described FitChec that is a virtual fitting room to address the high return rate (40 percent) from online purchases because of buyer dissatisfaction; and
  • Mickey Napier who pitched SCEE which is an app that scans an individual’s body and suggests potential purchases based on the individual’s size, preferred styles, and optimal price.

The Scott and Dianna Roe Foundation have provided foundational support for “Vol Court” for several years, and EcomHalo provided the funding for the first-place prize this spring.

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