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Finalists Selected for 2017 What’s the Big Idea 48-Hour Launch
By: 
Jessica Karsten
Date: 
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Six finalists have been selected from a record pool of nearly 100 applicants to compete in the What’s the Big Idea 48-Hour Launch annual entrepreneurial competition. They will have only two days to kick start their own businesses during an intense startup boot camp.
 
“What’s the Big Idea is an amazing opportunity to make months of progress in one weekend,” said Jonathan Sexton, entrepreneur in residence at the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center. “We give these entrepreneurs access to the best business talent in the region for 48 hours. It’s exciting, it’s exhausting, and it's a ton of fun.”
 
The weekend-long program will begin on Friday, Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. with the selected participants pitching their ideas to an audience of specialists and mentors. They will then be assigned a team to help them move their ideas from concept to launch-ready over the next two days. The finale pitch event will take place on Sunday, Feb. 26 at Scruffy City Hall from 6 – 8 p.m.
 
During the finale, each of the six finalists will pitch their refined ideas to a panel of judges and an overall winner will be selected. The winner will receive a Big Idea Launch Package, which includes access to $10,000 in startup reimbursement costs, office space, and complimentary business services.
 
"This year's group of finalists is really great,” Sexton said. “As a whole, the ideas represent a unique cross-section of industry sectors, and even more importantly showcases a variety of communities that make our city great. I'm also really excited to have 50 percent female founders in this year’s cohort.”
 
What’s the Big Idea 48-Hour launch is presented by The Development Corporation of Knox County, the Knoxville Chamber, the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, and Magnum Venus Products. The program is designed to inspire entrepreneurial action at the local level.
 
The Finalists:
 
TrapBeats, Krystal Tran & Thu Dang
Sound dampening panels with aesthetic designs for college students or consumers living in apartment-styled homes
 
Command Glove, Brandon Hardin, Erik Stevenson, Todd Johnson, Jon Stirling, & Van Irion
A glove embedded with contact switches that can be easily engaged by the natural movements of the wearer’s fingers in order to control electronic devices without impeding or detracting from their current physical or mental activity
 
Organizational Origami, Samantha Lane
A proprietary system dedicated to helping people visualize, prioritize, and execute the items they have to do on a daily basis
 
Prometheus, Christopher Ruel, Jared Smith, Kaleigh Veca, Steve Mellar, Anders Brown & Nicholas Padlo
An integrated, customized, and detailed risk mitigation tool for the global traveler
 
BreatheEasy, Laura Odom, Jeff Gotcher & Will McDermott
A platform that combines a smartphone application with a web-based portal/dashboard that simplifies asthma management
 
Urban Valle Farms, John Borden
Provides sustainable protein sources via the edible insect market, specifically acheta domesticus (house cricket), in the form of pulverized flour products or whole cricket 

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