Knoxville’s 2014 Startup Day emphasizes startup-friendly culture, assets in East Tennessee

Knoxville’s second annual Startup Day kicked off Thursday, Nov. 20 at 2:30 p.m. at The Standard in downtown Knoxville. The event celebrated the success of Knoxville’s growing startup community and raised awareness about resources that support East Tennessee entrepreneurs.

“When most Americans think ‘startup community,’ they think Silicon Valley in California, New York City or Seattle,” said Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero. “It’s significant that East Tennessee is nurturing its startup culture, making resources available to startups and generally creating a welcoming environment for entrepreneurs. Creating a startup-friendly city will keep and attract talent, capital and more resources.”

Startup Day featured fireside chats with eight of Knoxville’s seasoned entrepreneurs and investors, including Ben Brown, CEO of SwiftWing. SwiftWing invested $686,000 in Survature, a local startup at the University of Tennessee Business Incubator.

Ten local startups presented PechaKucha style, quick-fire pitches, including Vuture, an app that allows users to send personalized video messages to a recipient’s email or cell phone at a specified date and time.

“With Oak Ridge National Lab and the University of Tennessee, we see plenty of highly advanced technological ideas particularly in the energy, agriculture, healthcare, big data and big media fields,” said Ken Woody, president of Innova, an early stage venture fund located in Knoxville and Memphis. “There are some very bright and capable mentors in the Knoxville area, and a strong passion amongst many businesses to support these early-stage companies.”

Vig Sherrill pitched his seventh company, General Graphene, at Startup Day 2014. Sherrill attributes the region’s big science assets and world class manufacturing to the success of his first six companies that brought more than $100 million to the region.

More than 400 people registered to attend Startup Day 2014. Attendees included businesses, entrepreneurs and investors looking for the next big idea, businesses, regional accelerators and research institutions that provide support to startups and East Tennesseans interested in learning more about the region’s entrepreneurial community.

About Startup Day 2014

Startup Day 2014 is presented by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, University of Tennessee Research Foundation, Launch Tennessee, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center and Tech 2020, who organized the event.

Talent, Talent, TALENT!

Written by John Sharpe, President, Southeastern Technology Consultants and its affiliated divisions

Southeastern Technology Consultants is a division of StaffSource LLC, added in 2011 due to the high demand for IT professionals. Its President, John Sharpe, is originally from Knoxville and founded his first business, ARG Financial Staffing, in 2004. He is involved in multiple community organizations as well as the East Tennessee chapter of the Young Entrepreneur’s organization. He is President of ARG Executive Search and ARG Financial Staffing, StaffSource Employee Solutions and Southeastern Technology Consultants.

Sharpe is scheduled to participate in a Fireside Chat at Startup Day 2014.

Business is a combination of people, process and product or service, but your most important assets are the people you hire.

People are extremely important because they are responsible for architecting the process and conceptual creation of the product/service. The quality of the decision-making fuels the business.

Furthermore, each individual has their own strengths; for example, one person will be the seller while the other is the designer of the product/service, or another has a deep understanding of the financial concepts and economic models. Knowing who to hire and where to place potential employees to emphasize their strengths is key in developing your startup. You are looking for the best team possible that will help your startup grow rapidly.

A smart collective team approach is required. We have used a collaborative method in our company for the decision-making process, which has helped identify strengths and weaknesses that might have been overlooked. For a startup, collaboration is key. In order to grow and develop a business, changes are inevitable. Having a strong team that can face changes and find effective solutions quickly is the key to growth and success.

Hiring talent cannot be determined by following a checklist, but below are tips/qualities that I believe can help identify the most qualified potential hires for your startup.

  • Search for candidates with certain strengths that are currently missing or that can help your company and benefit the potential employee in future growth.
  • Culture is a big factor in organizations – make certain they are a fit for the already established culture in your company.
  • Search for candidates that know how to work through problems and can or have dealt with change; as a startup, there are many hats to wear, being able to balance it all is not an easy task.
  • Communication skills are essential.
  • Find team players.

View John Sharpe’s LinkedIn profile here.

John Sharpe

John Sharpe

Claris Networks joins IBM, Google on list of world’s top cloud service providers

Talkin’ Cloud, a site that covers cloud news and analysis, ranked Claris Networks the #51 cloud provider in the world.

“The cloud has become a necessity. It is integral to success of today’s businesses,” says Larry Bodie, CEO of Claris Networks, who will participate in a fireside chat at Knoxville’s Startup Day 2014. “And while we are a cloud company, we pride ourselves on the service we provide. We enable businesses to achieve their goals by doing what they are great at and they do not have to worry about the technology. The cloud is one way we make that happen, and we are grateful to be recognized among some of the best in the world for doing that.”

Read the full story on Claris Network’s blog here.

Source: ClarisNetworks.com Cloud 9 Blog

Five valuable tips for startups

Written by John Sharpe, President, Southeastern Technology Consultants and its affiliated divisions

Southeastern Technology Consultants is a division of StaffSource LLC, added in 2011 due to the high demand for IT professionals. Its President, John Sharpe, is originally from Knoxville and founded his first business, ARG Financial Staffing, in 2004. He is involved in multiple community organizations as well as the East Tennessee chapter of the Young Entrepreneur’s organization. He is President of ARG Executive Search and ARG Financial Staffing, StaffSource Employee Solutions and Southeastern Technology Consultants.

Sharpe is scheduled to participate in a Fireside Chat at Startup Day 2014.

Development is a critical time for startups. Below are five valuable tips that Sharpe offers to startups that are in the development stage:

  1. Monetize Your Idea
  • Make sure you have a clear idea of what you want to create and a viable financial model for your product or service.
  • Bad ideas fail; good ideas can fail as well. Embrace the mistakes and learn from them because from failure comes success.
  1. Build Your People Skills
  • Always keep the customer in mind; treat others the way you want to be treated. As you grow you will meet professionals with a variety of personalities. Learn how to handle and influence each personality – not every person is the same.
  1. Always Be Changing
  • In the staffing world, every aspect of our business is constantly changing; job market, technology, people and their careers. Be ready to continually learn new tasks, technologies, techniques and adjust to those changes.
  1. Learn to Face Challenges
  • There is never a time where everything will run smoothly. As mentioned, in our business we have to take into consideration the changes in the job market, technology and people. Be prepared to come up with solutions, however be aware that not all solutions will work. Going back to #4, always be changing to create better solutions.
  1. Take Risks
  • Be willing to take risks – it means making decisions even if you’re not 100% sure they are the right ones. Without risks there are no mistakes, without mistakes you don’t learn how to move forward and create a successful business.

View John Sharpe’s LinkedIn profile here.