After 48 intense hours of refining and developing their “big ideas” for the business start-up competition, a winner was crowned from a group of six finalists.
On Feb. 21, the finalists took to the stage at Scruffy City Hall to present their final ideas to a panel of judges in a Shark Tank-style pitch event. This year boasted an impressive array of business concepts, but it was Jason Hanna and Doug McDaniel’s Farm Spotter that took home the grand prize – up to $10,000 in startup reimbursement costs, one year free rent at the Fairview Technology Center, a spot in the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s CO.STARTERS program, and a Knoxville Chamber membership.
Farm Spotter is a mobile web portal that aggregates locally-grown produce, providing a purchasing format and an online marketplace to connect local buyers with information and products, eliminating the middle man.
“We’re already an operational business,” McDaniel said during the final pitch. “We are matching up farmers to buyers including Three Rivers Market, Knox Mason, both Tomato Heads, Flour Head Bakery, as well as Bistro at the Bijou. We’ve also signed up six additional restaurants this weekend just as a result of the buzz of this application.”
During the finale pitch event, each finalist had six minutes to pitch their ideas and two minutes for questions from a panel of judges. Leading up to the finale, the finalists worked around the clock to make their ideas pitch-ready with the help of mentors and coaches at KEC.
“This weekend was a fantastic display of how Knoxville’s business mentors can come together to help businesses achieve incredible things over the course of 48 hours,” said Emily Skaar, director of entrepreneurship for KEC. “Farm Spotter was a great choice for a winner, because they came in with the invaluable experience of using their concept before they even had the technology built.”
The five other “big ideas” competing against Farm Spotter were ABA Pocket Interventions, an app connecting patients and applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapists; Grow Bioplastics, LLC, a team focused on improving agriculture with a renewable alternative to oil-based mulch films, Impact Solutions, a team providing a method of fall detection called OverShield for the home-health and assisted-living markets; ProseWire, a digital marketplace of content to connect writers and publishers; and Switch Stream, a video-streaming app that allows users to control multiple live streams broadcast from other app users.
What’s the Big Idea 48-Hour launch is an annual event presented by The Development Corporation of Knox County, the Knoxville Chamber, and the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center.