Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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March 22, 2020 | Tom Ballard

We want to hear and share your stories of coping and surviving in this challenging environment

As the coronavirus has increasingly created a virtual and somewhat isolated world for so many of us, we have also learned of ways that individuals are turning the challenges they are facing into opportunities.

In five of the last six editions of, we have highlighted East Tennessee entrepreneurs whose efforts are being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. They are:

  • Alex Abell of Lunchpool whom we spotlighted March 13 with an update explaining how his concept of helping B2B clients and their employees build stronger connections in the workplace over shared food, drink or exercise was now being used to help people to connect amid restrictions such as those related to the coronavirus. In fact, it will be used for a Knoxville Technology Council event this week.
  • Jim Wilson of Johnson City-based bioPURE Services who reported in our March 16 edition that he expected to treat about two million square feet of surfaces this past week. The disinfectant that the company deploys utilizes chlorine dioxide (ClO2) as its active ingredient in combination with a proprietary electrostatic sprayer to properly disperse the chemical on the surface.
  • FoundersForge, the start-up support organization based in Johnson City, that hosted a March 19 webinar sharing best practices on how to successfully conduct meetings and stay in touch with your team members and customers via virtual tools.
  • Frank Podlaha of StreetJelly who shared with us an inspiring story on March 20 of how his site is helping out-of-work musicians generate revenue while b ringing music into the living rooms of those who are sheltering in place.
  • And today, we spotlight Jill Bartine who lost three different income sources, but has launched a new online venture that shares videos for individuals as they do yoga at home.

We like to think that, powered by PYA, is the primary source for news about technology, innovation and entrepreneurship in the eastern half of Tennessee. We view ourselves as a major connector across the region’s start-up ecosystems, particularly those from Northeast Tennessee through Knoxville to Chattanooga and up to Cookeville, because we share the stories of your visions, the challenges you face, and the strategies you have embraced to overcome those obstacles.

Knowing those entrepreneurs whom we have spotlighted for more than eight years, we believe there are many more new articles like Jill Bartine or updates like those of Jim Wilson, FoundersForge, and Frank Podlaha, and we would love to share them.

  • How is your start-up functioning in this uncertain environment?
  • Have you had to pivot and, if so, how? If not, are you considering doing so?
  • If you were not a remote worker before the coronavirus escalated, how is it going for you and your team now? What lessons have you learned that you can share with others?

Like you, we are working from home, so we have time to conduct interviews by phone or Zoom and write the articles to share your experiences. We would love to hear from you. Just email us at

Stay safe and healthy. Entrepreneurs are resilient.

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