By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

“Ever since I was a kid, Knoxville has been described as a government town,” Vendor Registry’s Chris Van Beke says. “Let’s embrace it.”

That concept of building on your strengths is at the heart of a special micro event that Vendor Registry, eGovernment Solutions, and The Lighthouse Fund are hosting on Thursday, September 22. It is part of Knoxville’s first-ever “Innov865 Week” and will be held from 8 to 10 a.m. at the Knoxville Chamber.

The two relatively young Knoxville-based companies are focused on the government market. Vendor Registry streamlines the purchasing process for local government agencies and vendors, while eGov bills itself as a one-stop source for web-based government software platform. Together, they represent a solid foundation to grow government-focused technology companies.

“They have more than 200 customers together,” Geoff Robson of The Lighthouse Fund says. His group is an investor in Vendor Registry, but he’s also taking a more global view of the regional opportunity.

“We want to validate the belief that our region has the resources to grow companies in this space,” Robson says. “The idea is to get those folks together to talk about the opportunity and near term actions.”

The target audience for the micro event is local government managers, finance and purchasing directors, entrepreneurs, and software developers. It’s not your typical mix, but the planners believe great ideas will come out of the interactions that will start on September 22.

Vendor Registry and eGov will share their experience, and some local government executives will describe their needs.

“We need to sell the development community on the concept and get them excited about it,” Van Beke says, explaining that many coders are not aware of the business opportunities that exist in the government services space.

The same holds true for entrepreneurs.

“We think there are entrepreneurs out there with good ideas that can be applied to government,” Robson adds. “This will be an opportunity to validate their ideas and begin taking them to market.”

The Lighthouse Fund has what Robson describes as a “sweet spot” for software.

“We are looking for opportunities to invest in that space,” he says.

To register for the event, click here.

(Note: This article appeared previously on, a web-based service that was launched to spotlight and celebrate “all things” related to technology, innovation and entrepreneurship in East Tennessee.)