Seven University of Tennessee, Knoxville, student companies received cash prizes in the Fall 2021 Graves Business Plan Competition. The event, hosted each semester by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Haslam College of UT Business, awards three award levels in two business categories: Growth and Lifestyle.
This was the 17th Graves Business Plan Competition. Open to UT students enrolled in undergraduate and master’s degree programs in any field of study, the competition offers student entrepreneurs the opportunity to earn seed money for original business ideas. The competition, which has awarded more than $ 330,000 to date, was named in honor of the Anderson Center’s director of operations, Tom Graves, after a generous endowment from an anonymous donor.
First place in the Growth category and $ 5,000 went to FarmCare, an brainchild of Jennifer “Farmer Jen” Durant of Knoxville, a first year student in a dual degree program leading to both an MBA and a Masters. in agriculture and resource economics. Durant’s idea is to offer childcare in an agricultural setting.
âAs I traveled across the country with the military, my kids and I got to see a lot of childcare businesses and realized that what I wanted as a mom just wasn’t available,â Durant said. âMost importantly, I have seen that the national industry that makes our children the people they will become is not doing a great job. As a problem solver, I had no choice but to build the solution, and on-farm child care was born.
Terebinth Jewelry won first place and $ 5,000 in the Lifestyle category. Founder Caleb Ross, a senior in aerospace engineering with a minor in entrepreneurship, is originally from Lebanon, Tennessee. Her jewelry line will offer different frames for a single piece of jewelry, an idea that was born during an entrepreneurship course last spring.
âThe money from this award will go directly to the patent application on the ring design and the initial designs, but the rings are not our only focus at Terebinth Jewelry,â said Ross. “We plan to launch our first collection of pendants from early to mid 2022.”
Second place in the Growth category and $ 3,000 went to Ethan Andes for Advanced Propulsion Systems. Andes, a second-year nuclear engineering student from Knoxville, developed zero-emission thrust technology for use in jet engines.
âWe are committed to achieving zero emission flight – this has been the mission from the start and hopefully something that we can achieve on a large scale someday,â said Andes. âI plan to use the prize money to develop the first physical prototype of the engine designed by APS. This will allow the technology to be shown in the real world and to be a valuable advertising tool. “
The MultiBlock, an archery target designed to last long and have interchangeable faceplates, won $ 3,000 for second place in the Lifestyle category. Founder Lucas Huffman, a senior business management graduate with an entrepreneurial background, grew up in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, and is passionate about archery and the outdoors.
âThis company is not just an idea of ââcompetition. I am very passionate about taking this business to the next level, âHuffman said. âI plan to spend most weekends working to bring this dream to life. “
Third place in the Growth category and $ 2,000 went to Caleb Brackney of Knoxville for Roamer Outpost. Brackney, a fourth-year graduate student working on an MA in Architecture and Landscape Architecture, converted a school bus into a tiny residence. He is currently working on converting a small barge into another small house and plans to invest the prize money in it.
âI decided to form Roamer Outpost because I recognized a need in my community and an opportunity for me to help others who have similar desires to live more with less,â said Brackney. âAfter a personal project to convert a school bus into a small house, I was overwhelmed by the support and energy generated by the project. ”
Social Butterfly Social Media Management by Molly Waugh and Venture Content by Elliott Childress tied for third place in the Lifestyle category and each received $ 1,000.
Waugh, a senior from Germantown, Tennessee, specializes in marketing with an entrepreneurial guarantee. With Social Butterfly, she plans to help small businesses with their social media presence on various platforms.
Childress is a senior from Jonesborough, Tennessee specializing in film studies with a minor in entrepreneurship. He and a team of five others formed Venture Content to deliver creative movie clips that can be used across several different outlets to help businesses build branding and keep messaging consistent.
âThis endeavor is in large part the result of my various experiences with professors and other students at the university,â Childress said. âThe entrepreneurship advice paired with the team I met in film studies really made this happen. “
This year, the preliminaries were held online and the final presentations and the awards ceremony took place in person.
âThis limits contact while still allowing students to have live commentary from the judges for their actual locations,â Graves said.
After 15 years of service at UT, Graves will retire at the end of December.
âThis is my second career here at university in 15 years,â he said, âand I loved nothing more than hearing the ideas of student entrepreneurs and being able to help on the way to starting their own business. “
Lindsey Owen (865-974-6375, [email protected])
Laura Rust (865-974-5126, [email protected])