Graves Business Plan Competition Awards Funds to Six UT Student Start-Up Businesses

Graves Winners 2018

Coonhound, LLC, Generative Genetics, Flo+Co. Cumberland Games Company, Stoked Info, and Patriot Threads win prize money to advance their business ideas.

Six UT student start-up businesses were awarded cash prizes in the Graves Business Plan Competition. The Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in UT’s Haslam College of Business hosted the 11th annual entrepreneurial contest.

Coonhound, LLC and Generative Genetics took home top prizes of $5,000 each in the lifestyle business and high-growth business categories. Flo+Co. and Cumberland Games Company won second place and $3,000 each, and Stoked Info and Patriot Threads each won third place and $2,000.

“The variety and quality of this year’s business ideas was outstanding,” said Tom Graves, operations director for the Anderson Center. “These students showed incredible passion for their businesses and impressed the judges with the work they did to move their ideas forward.”

Coonhound, LLC, which placed first in the lifestyle category, is a full-service camping business, seeking to simplify the logistics of camping so campers can spend more time exploring the outdoors. The company provides equipment along with campsite setup and removal.

A team of six sophomore students founded the company—Dalton Maddox, from Knoxville, Tennessee, majoring in supply chain management; Jeremy Piper, a supply chain management major from Clarkston, Michigan; Michael Richards, a geography major from Cross Plains, Tennessee; Connor Clarke, a supply chain management major from Morristown, Tennessee; Kenny Miller, from Cleveland, Ohio, majoring in both recreation and sport management and business analytics; and Christopher Mikulec, an accounting major from Buffalo, New York.

“We decided to form Coonhound out of our love for the outdoors,” said Piper, Coonhound’s oversight and quality control manager. “We really wanted to get more people out into nature, and Coonhound is a great way to accomplish this goal.”

Coonhound plans to launch this month, offering a range of camping packages in the Smoky Mountains.

“The Graves Business Plan Competition helped show us that people really believe in our business as much as we do,” said Piper. “Through winning this award money, we will be fully operational and cover costs throughout our business.”

Generative Genetics, founded by junior Ariel Ritter, won first place in the high-growth business category. Ritter, from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is majoring in both chemical engineering and biological sciences.

“I have a passion for both exploration and animals,” said Ritter. “Generative Genetics allows me to continue my research while enabling other researchers to do the same with an increased purpose.”

Generative Genetics seeks to offer solutions for researchers of difficult-to-treat diseases, such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. The company breeds axolotls, a species of tiger salamander known for its regenerative ability. Ritter plans to use her winnings to fund a larger business space and cover licensing as her company expands.

Second place in the lifestyle category went to Flo+Co., a floral coffee shop concept created by Meg Hutchinson, a junior supply chain management major from Franklin, Tennessee.

“When I attended floral school in Bath, England, I noticed the strategic pairing of coffee shops next to flower shops,” said Hutchinson. “Being an avid coffee and flower lover, I believed that this was a concept that would catch fire in my hometown.”

Hutchinson plans to use the prize money to grow the business by building on her current brand, Meg Hutchinson Florals. The company will offer floral pop-ups around Knoxville in addition to the floral design services Hutchinson currently offers.

Cumberland Games Company, took home second place in the high-growth category. The company was founded by Grant Peterson, a junior supply chain management major from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Peterson plans to use his passion for the board game community to create unique games characterized by innovative design and unique visuals.

“The tabletop gaming community is growing rapidly as people seek to spend quality time with their friends,” said Peterson. “Cumberland Games Company aims to provide games that will give lasting memories to this growing generation of game enthusiasts.”

The company is developing the prototype for its flagship game, One Time Gig, with plans to begin a Kickstarter campaign in early 2019.

Stoked Info, a media start-up company, won third place in the lifestyle category. Team members Nicholas Stokes and Trevor Bass, both junior journalism and electronic media majors from Memphis, Tennessee, founded the company. The company encourages consumers to “stay stoked” by consuming news from various viewpoints.

“Stoked Info, The People’s Press, was created to put the news consumer first,” said Stokes. “We aim to become the go-to news curator of everything politics, sports, entertainment, and style.”

The company plans to use the awarded funds to purchase equipment needed to produce Stoked Radio, the group’s weekly news podcast.

Third place in the high-growth category was awarded to Patriot Threads. The “apparel brand with a mission” was founded by Brady Fernandes, a freshman marketing major from Knoxville, Tennessee. The company supports Veteran-based nonprofit organizations through donations from its profits.

With the funds awarded, Fernandes plans to grow the company’s inventory.

“The competition was an amazing opportunity for me to really evaluate my own business and plan to move it forward,” said Fernandes. “The judges provided some much-needed feedback so that I can continue to grow my dream into a reality.”

New to this year’s competition were student financial advisor roles. These students worked with competition finalists, consulting on the start-ups’ financial planning. Logan Sizemore, a junior accounting major from Johnson City, Tennessee, won top prize in the student financial advisor competition, working with Generative Genetics.

“As a young entrepreneur myself, I was delighted to be able to provide my insight and use my major and knowledge in accounting to help Ariel achieve her goals and prepare her financials,” said Sizemore. “The participants obviously earn all the credit, but even being just a small part of their success is a rewarding experience.”

Austin Robinson, a senior finance major from Andersonville, Tennessee, won second prize, and Olivia Davis, a junior accounting major from Franklin, Tennessee, won third prize.

The Graves Business Plan Competition is held every spring and is open to UT undergraduate students from any field of study. An outside panel of judges from the business community judges entries and selects the winners. Since the competition’s inception in 2008, it has awarded $212,000 to 67 student start-up businesses.

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Graves Business Plan Competition Accepting Applications

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UT undergraduate students with a business idea or early-stage startup can apply to the Graves Business Plan Competition beginning February 22. The annual competition, hosted by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Haslam College of Business, was created in 2007 to help aspiring student entrepreneurs grow businesses.

The competition is open to any undergraduate student currently enrolled at UT Knoxville or the UT Institute of Agriculture. First, second, and third prizes of $5,000, $3,000, and $2,000 respectively are awarded in two business categories: growth and lifestyle. All student-owned companies, whether legally formed or in the planning stages, are eligible to compete.

“Participating in the Graves Business Plan Competition provides students with the opportunity to turn a concept into a business or develop an early-stage startup,” said Tom Graves, director of the competition and Anderson Center director of operations. “Students receive meaningful feedback during the competition process that can help them advance their idea.”

To apply, students must complete the application form. Applications are due by midnight Thursday, March 22. Applicants advancing to the first presentation round will pitch to a panel of local business professionals and alumni entrepreneurs Friday, April 6.

Two information sessions will be held for students to learn more about the competition and application. Both sessions will be held Tuesday, March 6, in Haslam Business Building Room 316—one from 8 to 9 a.m. and one from 4 to 5 p.m. Students can attend either session. No registration is required, and attendance is not required in order to apply to the competition.

To date, the competition has awarded $192,000 to 61 student business ideas and startups.

Graves Business Plan Competition Makes Awards to Seven Student Startups

Seven University of Tennessee, Knoxville, student startups were recently awarded cash prizes in the Graves Business Plan Competition. The Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in UT’s Haslam College of Business sponsored the 10th annual entrepreneurial contest.

Sophomores Kelsey Duncan and Ryan Cunningham took top prizes of $5,000 each in the high growth business and lifestyle business categories. Second and third place winners in both categories were awarded $3,000 and $2,000 respectively.

Duncan, a marketing major from Nashville, Tennessee, placed first in the high growth

Kelsey Duncan, The Sorority Guide

category with The Sorority Guide. The values-based analytical tool uses a cellphone application to guide potential new sorority members through the recruitment process. The application eases the process by providing users with information about each sorority, facts about recruitment events and journaling options for users to privately record their experiences. Duncan is in contact with several SEC schools, pursuing possible contracts for her new app.

“The competition not only allowed me to perfect my business pitch, but it also allowed me to sit down and figure out the financial side of my company and what I need to move forward,” Duncan says. “I am very grateful for the experience and opportunity that UT has given me to advance my company.”

Ryan Cunningham, Campus Car

Cunningham, a supply chain management major from Collierville, Tennessee, was awarded the top prize in the lifestyle business category with Campus Car, a flat-rate ride-sharing startup for the UT campus area. The company hires local students as independent contractors to provide low-cost transportation to and from campus in downtown Knoxville, Fort Sanders and the campus area. The company plans to launch in August.

“The Graves Business Plan Competition helped me by allowing me to pitch my idea in front of judges and university representatives who gave critiques that assisted in shaping the future of my business,” Cunningham says. “The requirements of the pitches and prep work necessary to make a good presentation have made my business plan even more solid and will help me to achieve the goals I have planned.”

Anna Amagliani, Brennan Galbraith, Caroline Cate and Caroline Conley of Wahie Women

Second place in the high growth category went to the Wahie Women team, composed of Brennan Galbraith, a junior in marketing from Brentwood, Tennessee; Caroline Conley, a junior in economics from Franklin, Tennessee; Anna Amagliani, a junior in supply chain management from Memphis, Tennessee; and Caroline Cate, a junior in industrial engineering from Brentwood, Tennessee.

Wahie Women is a food delivery service customized to meet the nutritional needs of women. The company uses a cellphone-based application to track users’ menstrual cycles and creates meals designed to replace the nutrients naturally depleted during a woman’s cycle.

Baker Donahue, In With the Old

In With the Old, a social-media-based clothing retail service, took home second place in the lifestyle category. The company was founded by Baker Donahue, a junior in communication studies from Franklin, Tennessee. In With the Old uses online social auctions to sell repurposed vintage college apparel. The company began at UT and now includes four additional college campuses

Tied for third place in the high growth category were Simple Mow and Grassroots Co-Op.

Treavor Johnson, Simple Mow

Simple Mow delivers an efficient hands-free mowing experience. Created by Treavor Johnson, a senior in mechanical engineering from Englewood, Tennessee, Simple Mow uses a combination of satellite navigation and a customized plot route to eliminate the need to perform the physical labor of mowing. Johnson has plans to finalize a prototype this summer.

Barrett Darlington, Grassroots Co-Op

Grassroots Co-Op, created by Barrett Darlington, a junior in mechanical engineering from Knoxville, seeks to simplify the internship hunting process for UT students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. The company uses web and cellphone application-based services to match students with local businesses seeking interns.

Mason Timken, Just Tap It

Just Tap It, created by Mason Timken, a senior in mechanical engineering from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, was awarded third place in lifestyle. Just Tap It is a self-serve bar tap that aims to change the way consumers order beer. The mobile unit attaches to a keg and allows consumers to purchase and pour directly at the tap.

The Graves Business Plan Competition is held every spring. It is open to UT undergraduate students from any field of study. An outside panel of judges from the business community judges entries and selects the winners. Since the competition’s inception in 2008, it has awarded $192,000 to student startups. Sixty-one startup ideas have been funded, 46 percent of which are still in business or have pivoted to a new business.

Application Period Open for 2017 Graves Business Plan Competition

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The application period for the 10th annual Graves Business Plan Competition at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will open Feb. 27. The competition, sponsored by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in UT’s Haslam College of Business, awards cash prizes to promising undergraduate student startup businesses or business ideas.

The Graves Business Plan Competition is open to any undergraduate student currently enrolled at UT Knoxville or the UT Institute of Agriculture. First, second and third prizes of $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000 are awarded in two business categories, growth and lifestyle. All student-owned companies, whether legally formed or in the planning stages, are eligible to compete.

Tom Graves, director of operations, Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Tom Graves, director of operations, Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation

To apply, students must submit a concept statement to the Anderson Center by midnight Friday, March 10. Teams that advance to the presentation round will pitch to a panel of local business professionals Friday, March 31.

Formerly the Undergraduate Business Plan Competition, the contest was renamed to honor Tom Graves, Anderson Center director of operations and director of the annual competition. The change was made last April at the request of anonymous donors who gave $1 million to endow the competition.

“We are extremely fortunate to have donors whose generosity allows our aspiring student entrepreneurs to engage in true experiential learning and be provided with the opportunity to win funding that will allow them to move their ideas or early stage ventures forward,” said Graves.

Since 2008, the competition has awarded $170,000 to 50 student startups.