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Finalists Chosen for What’s the Big Idea 48-Hour Launch
Jenny Woodbery
Friday, January 16, 2015

From a pool of 68 applications, seven finalists have been selected to compete in the What’s the Big Idea 48-Hour Launch competition. The contestants will now have just two days to flesh out their business ideas and get their companies ready to takeoff.

“We were extremely excited to not only receive a record-breaking number of applications, but also such high quality ideas that we now have seven teams participating in the 48-Hour Launch instead of the six we’d originally planned on,” said Emily Skaar, entrepreneur coordinator for the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center.

The competition will begin on Jan. 23 and conclude on Jan. 25 with a finale pitch event at Scruffy City Hall from 6 – 8 p.m. Prior to the finale, the entrepreneurs will go through a rigorous weekend of prototyping, planning, incubating, and launching their startup ideas.

What’s the Big Idea was originally launched as a business plan competition that spanned two months and three stages of elimination. However, the new 48-Hour Launch version takes the entrepreneurial competition to a new level by significantly compressing the timeline.

“We’re really excited about the new format for What’s the Big Idea,” said Todd Napier, president and CEO of the Development Corporation. “The time crunch will test the participants’ ability to think on their feet and perform under pressure.”

The entrepreneurs won’t be going it alone though, they’ll have a team of professionals from a variety of different fields available to them 24/7 at the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center to help them refine their ideas.

“For the past few years What’s the Big Idea has had a team of talented coaches that have helped the entrepreneurs craft and improve their ideas through a series of sessions,” Napier said. “We still have that mentor support in the 48-hour launch format, but now it’s an entire roomful of them who are available around the clock for contestants.”


The Finalists

Barboards, Michael Bowie

Creative advertising though beverage coasters .


Children’s Media Studio – Sing and Spell, Catherine-Mary Vangieri

An audio and video animation company that creates short-form video for edutainment purposes.


SocialCue, Michael Goldsborough

A social media manager, scheduler, and educational Web-app platform for real estate professionals.


College Weekend, Kevin White

Helping ease the college football fan’s experience of attending away games.


Pixel Zombies’s Sumo-Kun Gaming Gear, Lisa Page

Creating gear for serious gamers.


Traditional Cigar, Zachary Slabaugh

A craft cigar company with a focus of not only delivering a memorable experience to customers, but to educate them through the process. 


Maker Networks, Ben Farmer

Making 3-D printing possible from any device, any time.

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