We spent the last two days in Oak Ridge and Knoxville at Tech2020’s Entrepreneurial Imperative. Our plate was full of learning, connecting, and evangelizing to the rest of East TN about what’s happening here in Chattanooga. If you’ve never had a chance to check it out, please put it on your to-do list for 2011. The guys at Tech2020 always bring in excellent speakers for the keynotes, engaging topics and panelists for the breakout sessions, and a great forum for start-ups around the South to pitch their concept to a room full of investors and entrepreneurs. Not to mention an incredible opportunity to connect with some of the brightest minds in the start-up world on this side of the Mississippi.
Enough praise of the event…let’s get to the real reason for this post- two Chattanooga-based start-ups were featured in the Throttle Up Venture Competition. Lifekraze and Secure Waters were chosen to be in the final six presentations and they both did very well. In fact, Secure Waters walked away from the competition as the winner and we have it on good authority that Lifekraze was a close second! Ben Wagner and Michael Brooks (both 22ish?) of Lifekraze certainly gained the love of the audience and went home as the fan-favorites (although that doesn’t come with any hardware or cash, necessarily).
In summary, it was a good day for the entrepreneurial spirit in Chattanooga. It was very encouraging to see a number of angel investors from Chattanooga at the event, in addition to two brand new start-ups just coming out of the gates. This is really remarkable especially since there has been a noticeable absence of Chattanoogans in these types of events since Smart Furniture and Tricycle were making their early rounds.
I’m thinking that this is just the beginning for Chattanooga. I’ve got a sneaky suspicion that we’re going to see more and more creative and entrepreneurial talent come out of the woodworks and hopefully change people’s perceptions that Chattanooga isn’t a good place for start-ups. With new efforts moving forward right now like InnovateHere and rumors of new start-up seed funds, Chattanooga is well-positioned for exciting days ahead.