Last year, the Innov865 Alliance’s Startup Day 2020 event was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we get ready to celebrate Startup Day 2021 safely this year, we wanted to follow up with some of our 2020 pitchers and winners to see how they are doing and if they had any exciting updates to share and advice for our 2021 pitchers.
Today, we got the chance to catch up with 2020 Startup Day pitcher Stacy Baugues, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of PowerUp Fitness. Here are some of Baugues’ answers to our questions.
It’s been one year since you competed in the pitch competition at Startup Day 2020. What was the pitch competition experience like for you?
Baugues: Startup Day 2020 opened a lot of doors for our company, it’s so much more than a pitch competition. From the initial Startup Day selection to the media coverage, the live pitch and judges’ feedback, the whole experience was incredible. Pitch competitions not only give entrepreneurs the opportunity to win and possibly raise capital, but to network and connect with a supportive community. I’m excited to see what this year’s entrepreneurs have in store for us!
What advice do you have for the entrepreneurs competing this year?
Baugues: Be yourself and help us (the audience) connect with the why – why your company and the product or service you offer has meaning or brings value to our community.
What has been happening for you this year? For example, what have been some of your favorite highlights?
Baugues: Since pitching last fall, we’ve expanded our virtual fitness programming, spread across 32 states and have partnered with more than 250 schools and youth organizations to offer PowerUp programming. We recently had the opportunity to present at the national Nita M. Lowey Summer Symposium – a conference for afterschool providers nationwide, hosted by the US Department of Education. It was an honor to be selected and have the opportunity to present on a national stage.
Looking forward into the next year or so, what do you and your startup have on the horizon?
Baugues: For the past two years, we’ve been hyper-focused on growing our school and afterschool based programs. In January 2022, we’re bringing on a new team member to focus on our expansion into preschools and childcare facilities and grow our PowerUp Peanuts physical activity program.
What do you enjoy about the Knoxville entrepreneurial ecosystem? And/or what was/is it like growing your company here?
Baugues: I can’t think of a better place to build a company. Knoxville is just small enough to get the dedicated resources and truly connect with a supportive entrepreneurial community, but big enough to launch on a national scale. From Startup Day to the Knoxville Entrepreneurship Center and UT’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship, Knoxville has the support and resources that feel like an entire team is working for your startup.