After two months of intense competition, a winner was named at the finale of the What’s the Big Idea?! business plan competition at Relix Variety Theatre on June 24.
Brack Owens’s AmpTrader.com, a site for trading guitar-related gear, took home the grand prize – $10,000 in startup reimbursement costs, one year of free rent at the Fairview Technology Center, and complimentary business services.
“It felt amazing to win tonight,” Owens said. “I’m still shocked but very excited. I put a lot of effort into this, so winning was just icing on the cake.”
An avid guitarist, Owens said he came up with the idea for AmpTrader through his personal experience with trading guitar-related gear.
“I was amazed by all the people trading,” he said. “All of us guitarists are looking for the perfect guitar tone, so what a lot of us do is trade equipment with each other. So this website is for those traders.”
This year’s other “big ideas” included Michael Crain’s Vuture, an iOS application that schedules video messages; Martin Wade’s FlowSink, a portable, self-cleaning sink ideal for tile and painting jobs; and Christopher Saah’s MyPTshop.com, a one-stop-shop for personal trainers to recommend products to clients.
During the finale, the four contestants had eight minutes to give their final pitch of their “big ideas” to a panel of five judges. After each pitch, the judges had a chance to question each contestant about their product before their final deliberation.
As a new element to this year’s competition, four contestants that were eliminated during the Knock Out Competitions got a second chance to compete in the finale through the People’s Choice Pitch – which gave each contestant three minutes to pitch their idea one last time. Saah was the People’s Choice winner.
This is the third year the Knoxville Chamber, along with The Development Corporation of Knox County and Tech20/20, has presented the What’s the Big Idea?! business plan competition. The contest was supported in part by Rodefer Moss & Company, PLLC.
“We’re really proud to be part of this and help these young companies launch,” Todd Napier, president of the Development Corporation. “That’s really what it’s all about it’s about promoting the entrepreneurial community in Knoxville."