It’s off to California this week for the nine start-ups that comprise this year’s cohort for Launch Tennessee’s “The TENN” master accelerator. As was the case last year, part of the experience for the Tennessee companies involves interaction with venture capitalists, potential customers, and other entrepreneurs in the Bay Area. Ahead of their departure, we asked the Knoxville participants in “The TENN” for their observations about the program thus far and their expectations of the California trip.
Dipped Fresh co-owner Antonia Poland used to wonder how other business owners got in on certain opportunities. She would hear about events and wonder how her business could have gotten the chance to cater for it. But as a new business owner, she didn’t really know where to start.That was in 2012. Since then, help from city and chamber leaders has helped her business flourish.
The problem that Patrick Woodyard observed while working in Peru was that thousands of skilled shoemakers were struggling for customers. The influx of imported shoes was undercutting their trade, and providing for their families was becoming increasingly difficult. An idealistic 25-year-old, Woodyard became determined to find a market for the handmade shoes in the U.S. In 2011, he formed a business that would distribute, sell and help design shoes and leather accessories made in Trujillo, Peru. The next year, he chose Nashville as his home.
Knoxville News Sentinel
Jeremiah McRoberts doesn’t like to exercise, but what he does like to do is dance. The dance game enthusiast plays most days of the week, and with his wife, Jennifer, has built a global business in Oak Ridge making interactive dance pads. “I didn’t think there was anyone left who played dance games on a dance pad, but we’re building a community again,” he said. Precision Dance Pads was started two years ago after McRoberts got tired of buying dance pads that wouldn’t last or required constant maintenance. In his first year of play, he destroyed six soft pads and six foam pads.
Chattanooga Times Free Press
In an age when many consumers are reaching for their cell phones rather than their car keys to shop, the traditional retail storefront has become less appealing to many young entrepreneurs. Instead, they are embracing the age of social media and digital marketing to meet their customers online where it’s free to test their new concepts and products. “We just want to make money before we spend money,” says online entrepreneur Carlie Newby. She and her roommate, Laura McDonald, launched their online clothing shop, Urban Rose, in 2014.
The question science writers seek to answer for the public is “Why should we care about science and the scientific research that national labs do?” Thom Mason, who is in his eighth year as director of the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, answers the question convincingly. He tells of ORNL’s involvement as a research lab in the revolutionary manufacturing of vehicle parts and revolutionary lighting of indoor sports arenas. Mason, who became director in 2007 after leading the completion of the Spallation Neutron Source, is particularly pleased with the support ORNL receives from DOE, other federal agencies and the state of Tennessee. He is delighted by ORNL’s successful interactions with the University of Tennessee, other universities and many industrial partners.
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