← 2018 Pitch Applicants

Sofia Tomov

Sofia Tomov is currently a student enrolled at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and the founder of Qardian Labs. Qardian Labs develops innovative artificial intelligence-based software solutions for evaluating heart disease risk. The company is currently working with the US Air Force to develop an echocardiogram analysis system for decision support. Qardian Labs’ software uses deep neural networks to achieve 99 percent accuracy on test data. The company’s software benefits sports physicians by helping flag athletes at risk of sudden cardiac arrest, which is the leading cause of death in athletes.

← 2018 Pitch Applicants

Mike Benn

Mike Benn is the co-founder of Songboarding, a company that is built on a remarkably simple concept: music equals memory. With Songboarding, Benn is able to help generate meaningful and purposeful content for companies in their efforts to train new and existing employees. Artists write, produce, and record songs that bring systems, procedures and protocols to life and boost retention. Songboarding serves as the alternative to traditional training styles and methods.

A graduate of the University of Tennessee, Benn earned his degree in Logistics and Supply Chain Management. Since then, he has worked for three major corporations in a number of positions. Each company is different, but he noticed that the one thing they – and all companies – have in common is Employee Onboarding and Training challenges. Benn’s goal is to take his education, experience, creativity, and musical talent and combine them with companies’ objectives to enhance the training experience and make it fun and memorable.

← 2018 Pitch Applicants

Dan Close

Dan Close is the co-founder and CSO of 490 BioTech, a Knoxville-based biotechnology company making glowing human cells that revolutionize scientific research. Each year, the pharmaceutical industry wastes over $24 Billion developing drugs that turn out to be ineffective or unsafe. In fact, over 99% of all new drug candidates that pass the first stage of screening ultimately fail because of ineffective testing that requires scientists to predict effectiveness based on a single snapshot of information. 490 BioTech enables these companies to better identify safe, effective drugs by making cells continuously produce a visual light signal that adjusts in real-time to represent changes in cellular health. Healthy, happy cells glow bright, sick cells get dim, and dead cells are dark. By providing more information through continuous observation, earlier in the pipeline than was previously possible, 490’s glowing cells facilitate the development of safer, more effective, and less expensive medicines.

← 2018 Pitch Applicants

Erica Grant

Erica Grant is a PhD student studying quantum computation at the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory and is set to graduate in December 2020. She founded Quantum Lock in 2018 and since has developed proof of concepts, filed a PCT and US patent, won $150k in prizes from business plan competitions, and was accepted into the 4th cohort of Innovation Crossroads which provides $400k in non-dilutive funding for R&D at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

← 2018 Pitch Applicants

Alex Lewis

Alex Lewis is Co-founder and CEO of Electro-Active Technologies, a public benefit corporation developing a modular system for converting food waste into hydrogen. The company was spun out of Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 2017, built on >5 years of DOE funded research. The underlying technology uses a combination of biology and electrochemistry to take electricity and food waste to produce a low-cost, zero-emission fuel in hydrogen. Our approach fights climate change on two fronts by keeping food waste out of the landfill while providing a zero-emission fuel to offset gasoline and diesel use. This system can produce one of the greenest sources of hydrogen available today while doing it affordably through use of a waste stream as input, enabling us to meet the demand for food waste solutions as well as the growing demand for hydrogen supply in fuel cell applications. In the past year, Electro-Active has raised $1.65M and the company is looking for an additional $600k to close out this Seed round and is also looking for partners for pilot projects in 2021.

← 2018 Pitch Applicants

Stacy Baugues

Stacy Baugues is a pediatric exercise physiologist and founder and CEO of PowerUp Fitness.  PowerUp Fitness certifies wellness champions as youth fitness instructors and provides them with the training and support needed to empower youth through fitness, education, and fun in their communities.  With the launch of online instructor training in July 2019, PowerUp Fitness classes have spread to more than sixty schools, fitness centers, and childcare facilities across fifteen states.

Stacy has been in the health and wellness sector since 2006, including fitness management, Coordinated School Health, and senior leadership positions with a state-wide, health-focused nonprofit.  She holds a master’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of Tennessee and has published research on youth physical activity and motor skill development. Stacy volunteers with the Young Leaders’ Society for United Way of Greater Knoxville and enjoys living in downtown Knoxville with her husband and daughter.

Amy Nelson

Venture For America CEO Amy Nelson will be the featured speaker for Innov865 Week’s Startup Day 2018. Amy grew up among the amber waves of Midwestern grain outside of St. Louis (a proud VFA city) and then followed her love of post-punk music to sunny Southern California. After earning a degree in philosophy and government from Claremont McKenna College, she did stints in Cameroon and Cambodia, where she helped grow highly-innovative international development organizations. While earning her MBA at NYU’s Stern School of Business, Amy joined the team at B Lab, where she helped launch B Analytics, the leading data platform for impact investors. Amy joined Venture for America in 2013 to lead fundraising and external relations, rose to Managing Director in 2016 and became CEO in 2017. As CEO, Amy is focused on making VFA the go-to path for aspiring young entrepreneurs and helping lower the barriers to entrepreneurship for all. She lives in beautiful Park Slope with her husband and two children, and can be found attending Cirque du Soleil performances around the globe (she’s up to 15 shows and counting!).