Knoxville’s entrepreneurial success will soon be recognized once again at the fourth annual Startup Day, September 22. The Innov865 Alliance announced its 2016 nominees for the UT Federal Credit Union Traction Award, presented to a Startup Day alum who has made the most progress, or gained the most ‘traction,’ since pitching their business at Startup Day. Startup Day is the signature event of Innov865 Week, a week-long series of events that celebrates entrepreneurship and showcases Knoxville as a great place to start and grow a business.
“The Traction Award nominees are key players in building East Tennessee’s entrepreneurial community. It’s exciting to see this caliber of company growing in this region. These founders set a great example for their peers,” said Jill Van Beke, Director of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Launch Tennessee. Launch Tennessee is a founding member of the Innov865 Alliance.
“UT Federal Credit Union is pleased to sponsor the Traction Award and recognize the achievements of our East Tennessee entrepreneurs who will continue to thrive in our community,” said Myra Hamilton, AVP of Business Lending at UT Federal Credit Union.
ARiES Energy was the 2015 recipient of the UTFCU Traction Award. This year ARiES Energy began construction on a community solar array for the Appalachian Electric Cooperative. It’s one of the first utility-scale community solar projects in the state.
The Innov865 Alliance selected the following three nominees this year:
Bob Bradley, NewsBreak What started out as a digital-out-of-home media business that provided local news and advertising to pump top television screens at Knoxville-area gas stations in 2009, has since evolved into a predictive analytics software company that supports convenience store retailers’ quest to drive high profit margin products and services. NewsBreak is the brainchild of President/CEO Bob Bradley, a 2014 Knoxville Startup Day alum who became an investor in the company in 2011. He’s since taken the start-up digital company to national prominence. NewsBreak’s programmatic merchandising platform converts fuel-only customers to multi-product purchasers and is currently available across 5 states, with expected growth to reach 300 convenience stores by the end of this year, up from 88 locations at the end of 2014. Earlier this year, NewsBreak opened its first site in the state of Utah through a strategic partnership with Sinclair Oil and Bennett Pump Company. The deal makes NewsBreak available to not only 1,400 Sinclair branded stations in 19 states, but the 6,000 fueling retailer locations across the U.S that are currently served by the third largest fuel pump manufacturer in the world, Bennett Pump Company.
Bryan Crosby, FunLPro Technology A 2015 Startup Day alum, Bryan Crosby founded his company, FunLPro Technology LLC, to capitalize on a pouring device his father invented to simplify the process of transferring fluids. His patented closure system provides a lengthy, extendible, and directional pouring spout within the closure system itself, and eliminates the need to purchase, store, and reuse separate pouring devices such as traditional funnels, which can result in spills and contamination due to cross mixing of fluids. Since Startup Day 2015, Crosby has graduated from the University of Tennessee with his MBA and is focusing his energies on FunLPro full time. His current push includes breaking into the retail market. The company has two product offerings: an Integrated Product that is bottled directly onto the container and available at point of sale, and a Retail Cap segment that can be purchased at select retailers and added on to whichever fluid a customer chooses. FunLPro Integrated Caps are currently available on KenJo Lubricants in all of their retail locations. Crosby plans to bring the Retail Caps into major distribution this fall. Also in the works is a line of private label products, one of which, FunLPro’s Magna 1 brand, is being marketed to over 80,000 convenience store chains. FunLPro was recently nominated by Plastics News, the largest trade journal in the consumer packaged goods industry, for their inaugural Plastic Caps and Closures Innovation Awards.
Courtney Jones, MomSource Network Courtney Jones, founder of MomSource Network and 2014 Startup Day Alum, started her company to help others, like herself, who wanted more flexibility in their employment, as well as the ability to fulfill their personal happiness without compromising their professional ambitions. MomSource Network serves as a conduit for job candidates, allowing them build an online profile about the type of employment they are looking for and notifying them when opportunities arise that fit their skill set and schedule. Likewise, employers are invited to build a profile with MomSource and are sent resumes of fully vetted candidates that match their hiring requirements. The company has gone from two employees in Knoxville to a team of fifteen spread across seven cities in four states, the newest addition being an outpost in Atlanta. The candidate pool has grown as well, from 200 local candidates at Startup Day 2014 to over 3,000 in both the United States and other countries.
Startup Day is free and open to the public. Registration is required at https://www.innov865.com/register/
UT Federal Credit Union is a member-owned financial cooperative with more than 22,000 member-owners and assets of over $250 million. UT Federal Credit Union’s mission is to provide members with exceptional financial service, education and leadership. As winner of the Tennessee Small Business Administration Credit Union of the Year award each year since 2012, UT Federal Credit Union is dedicated to providing support to startups and small businesses in Tennessee. The heart of UT Federal Credit Union has always been and will always be its owners.