Three Local Entrepreneurs Announced as Coaches
The Knoxville Chamber, The Development Corporation of Knox County, and Tech 20/20 are pleased to announce 15 contestants for this year’s What’s the Big Idea?! business plan competition presented by Rodefer Moss & Company, PLLC. Selected from over 30 applicants, the contestants’ 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.
Contestants will now attend several Big Idea Launch Seminars in preparation to deliver a five-minute pitch on May 7 during Team Selection Night. Inspired by the hit television show The Voice, Team Selection Night adds a new dimension to this year’s competition – engaging successful, local entrepreneurs as coaches for these hopefuls.
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 then have one month to mentor their team members before contestants face-off in the Knock Out Competitions.
Acknowledging the integral role mentors played in his own success, Tolsma is eager to hear the big ideas of these aspiring entrepreneurs.
“Having the right people coach me has made the critical difference in so many of my decisions in business and in life,” he said. “I’m looking forward to returning the favor by working with entrepreneurs who fuel new ideas and innovations in our city. I’m looking for the entrepreneur that has a plan that will lead to results. So, if you’ve got it, bring it.”
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, which will lead to the identification of three finalists who will advance to the What’s the Big Idea?! Finale on June 20 at Relix Variety Theater.
The 15 contestants for 2013 are:
- Back to the Farm Wear, Brian Douglas
High-quality, farm inspired apparel and accessories line
- Billy Lush Brand, LLC, Abe Kiggins
Lifestyle/fitness brand promoting wellness through non-traditional activities
- CampusLife, Chad Tate
College-centered social media site focused on facilitating real world connections
- Dwelln, Casey Peters
Web-based platform designed to simplify role of property manager or owner
- Greenlight – Frustration Free E-mail Newsletters, Gavin Baker
Strategic e-mail communications company
- Loopyr, Chris Collins
Mobile application leveraging fingerprint technology and commercial advertising
- Neural Energy Games, Charles Chin
Educational video games company targeting college freshmen level courses
- PipeFighters Square, Steven Pierson
Innovative pipe fitting tool
- PTlink, Trevor Grieco
Interactive mobile application that improves recovery by connecting clinicians and patients
- Sports Equipment Tracking Company (HELMETRIX), Franklin Hodges
Metric based program for inspection and maintenance of football helmets
- Survature Inc., Jian Huang
Online survey tool evaluating respondent’s answers and behavior
- Tata Coolerz, Kimberly Gillespie
Insulated, cooling gel packs for women
- TeVal, Jeff Gotcher
Web-based platform designed to streamline teacher evaluation process
- WasteToValueStone LLC, Louwrens Mulder
Granit waste recycling
- Woo-Hoo Enterprises, Steve Garner
Internal load securement system
The winning idea will receive a Big Idea Launch Package that includes up to $10,000 in start-up reimbursement costs, one year of free rent at the Fairview Technology Center, and complimentary business services.