KNOXVILLE—Three entrepreneurial ventures owned by students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, have been granted a total of $25,000 by the Boyd Venture Fund.
The funds will be used to grow the student-run businesses.
A fourth student venture has been offered space in the UT Research Foundation Business Incubator. The in-kind offer is worth $3,000.
“Creating new local businesses is the cornerstone of a community’s success,” said Randy Boyd, fund benefactor and CEO of Radio Systems Corp. “I cannot imagine a better return on investment than supporting future generations of entrepreneurs.”
The spring 2013 Boyd Venture winners are:
- Summersett Foods LLC, a manufacturer and distributor of a line of frozen buffalo chicken dips that can go directly from the freezer to the microwave. Founded by marketing senior Jake Rheude, Summersett Foods was created when Rheude moved to Knoxville from Cincinnati and could not find dips he was familiar with. He then created and began marketing the product with a former business partner.
The Boyd Venture Fund grant will allow Summersett Foods to develop in-store merchandising materials and pursue contracts with local grocery store chains.
- Escadrille Cycling Apparel, a clothing company that specializes in high-end custom apparel for cycling enthusiasts. Formally called Privateer Cycling Apparel, Escadrille Cycling Apparel was founded by Jordan Humble, a senior in global politics and economics.
Humble, who has been on the U.S. cycling team and has raced in Europe, noticed that cycling apparel has not changed in decades and set out to change this by connecting with world-class sporting apparel designers. Prototypes are now being sewn in Los Angeles, but Humble, who is from Chattanooga, plans to move production to East Tennessee in the future.
Humble’s Boyd Venture Fund grant will allow him to move forward with prototype development and marketing.
- PTlink LLC, a software company that allows a physical therapist and a patient to connect more frequently, therefore ensuring a faster and more effective recovery.
PTlink, founded by Collin Howser of Nashville and Trevor Grieco of Knoxville, both seniors in biomedical engineering, is an interactive mobile app that connects a patient to a clinician to improve communication and recovery in a rehabilitation setting.
The app has two components: A clinician can create a rehab program, while a patient can go through the therapy electronically. The patient and the clinician are linked throughout the rehabilitation process.
The Boyd Venture Fund award will allow the founders to do extensive market research to validate or modify the product features.
In addition to the Boyd Venture Fund grants, Anna Gilbert of Memphis, a senior in retail and consumer science, has been given space in the UT Research Foundation Business Incubator to grow her business. She founded Anna’s Armoire, a fixed-price jewelry and apparel merchandiser run through Facebook. Gilbert locates unique jewelry and apparel, photographs it, and posts it on the company’s Facebook page. Every Sunday at 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time the site goes live, and customers can buy the limited-quantity merchandise by commenting “sold” on the picture.
Boyd Venture Fund grants are administered through the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in UT’s College of Business Administration and are available to any UT student-owned business. They are awarded each spring and fall. Since the fund’s inception in 2011, 11 student-owned companies have been awarded a total of $87,500 in seed capital to achieve milestones that advanced their businesses.
The UT Research Foundation Business Incubator, 2450 E.J. Chapman Drive, provides entrepreneurs with an environment that encourages learning, growth and self-sustainability where participants learn from experts and other students as they start and build technology-based businesses.
For more information about the business incubator, visit http://www.utk.edu/go/qv.