Entrepreneurship at UT continues to flourish and produce entrepreneurs in the Knoxville region: four out of 15 finalists in this year’s “What’s the Big Idea?” business plan competition are students or faculty at UT. The winning idea will receive a Big Idea Launch Package that includes up to $10,000.
The Knoxville Chamber, The Development Corporation of Knox County, Tech 20/20 and Rodefer Moss & Company host this annual event to spur the launch and growth of new businesses. The Big Ideas were chosen based on growth potential, innovation and/or technical feasibility, newness of the concept or plan, and viability of a sustainable, competitive advantage.
The UT finalists are:
- CampusLife, Chad Tate: College-centered social media site focused on facilitating real world connections
- Neural Energy Games, Charles Chin (a former Vol Court winner!): Educational video games company targeting college freshmen level courses
- PTlink, Trevor Grieco and Collin Howser: Interactive mobile application that improves recovery by connecting clinicians and patients
- Survature Inc., Jian Huang: Online survey tool evaluating respondent’s answers and behavior
Contestants will now attend several seminars to prepare and deliver a five-minute pitch on May 7 during Team Selection Night. Inspired by the hit television show The Voice, Team Selection Night engages successful, local entrepreneurs as coaches. After hearing all 15 pitches, coaches Parker Frost, founder of Gigmark Interactive; John Tolsma, owner of Knowledge Launch; and Jimmy Rodefer, CEO of Rodefer Moss & Company, PLLC, will each select three contestants to be part of their team. The three coaches, who all have been recipients of the Knoxville Chamber’s Pinnacle Young Entrepreneur Award, will have one month to mentor their team members before contestants face-off in the Knock Out Competitions.
On June 3, the nine semifinalists will pitch their idea to an independent panel of judges in three separate Knock Out Competitions. Judges will select a winner from each Knock Out Competition, each of who will advance to the “What’s the Big Idea?!” finale on June 20 at Relix Variety Theater.