Enterpreneurs present at CodeWorks Demo Day

by Shelton on December 23rd, 2015

filed under House Loan

The best and brightest lights on the Knoxville software stage were shining at the first CodeWorks Demo Day and Black-Tie Hacker Holiday Party at the Southern Railway Station Thursday night.

For the founder of the six software startups that just completed the 12-week CodeWorks boot camp sponsored by the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, the event was a holiday party, a graduation ceremony and a chance to pitch their ideas to potential investors.

They all worked very hard to get here, said Jonathan Sexton, entrepreneur in residence at KEC.

Some of the startups had to improvise, adapt and overcome as they worked their way through the program. Software engineers are somewhat unique in that they must be able to turn on a dime, Sexton said.

Jim Biggs, executive director of KEC, told the group the Knoxville community has been blessed with resources to support startups including the mentors that accounting firm Pershing Yoakley and Associates provided to guide the startups and the support of Angel Capital Group, the largest venture capital company in East Tennessee.

Entrepreneur Zhanna Krotova, who is trying to launch a company that makes fitted sheets for the hotel industry, came to the event to network and to try to recruit someone who can help her market her idea. She said KEC has been a great resource for her company.

Representatives of each of the companies that completed the CodeWorks program gave short presentations to the audience.

PYA and some smaller local accounting firms are serving as beta test sites for software from Financial Cents, a startup that aims to help small businesses understand how well their business is performing compared to their competitors, said CEO Shahram Zarshenas.

The numbers on financial statements dont always tell how well a company is doing, he said.

He said he was inspired to create the product after watching his own fathers business struggle with issues such as growth and profitability.

StudyLoop is a collaborative application that helps students make connections and share information about their classes. Collaboration can be difficult with large classes, said founder Sam Rose.

The software would be offered free to students and would generate revenue with additional features and ad revenue created by the sale of promotional opportunities for sponsors called Brand Bots, Rose said. As of December more than 50 students have signed up to use the product. By springtime as many as 25 percent of UT students could be using the product, he said.

Appvalet CEO George Andrejko said the CodeWorks program helped his company go from no product to having paying customers in just 12 weeks. His company is targeted at helping develop user-generated content and applications for the fast growing Apple TV user market.

We provide a self-service platform that allows non-developers to create, customize and publish tvOS apps without writing a single line of code. Were the WordPress of Apple TV, he said.

MathLeap is a feedback and assessment tool that could change the way math and science are taught, according to founder Gareth Aye. He said the product will allow teachers to give better feedback to their students. The key to marketing the product is to establish traction in the teacher community, he said. In 2016 the product will be beta tested in Knox County Schools. The opportunity includes 3.5 million K to 12 teachers in the US Fey said he is looking for investors in the range of $750 to hire more software engineers and increase the number of topics the software can support.

Applying for a house loan can be a confusing and difficult process, according to Kris Hogrefe, founder of DuoLogix. A veteran of the mortgage loan business, Hogrefe said his application for Apple and Android devices will create a simple, organized and secure platform for mortgage brokers to communicate with their clients.

Although there are competitors in the market, there is no other solution that is as simple to use and as secure as the DuoLogix platform, Hogrefe said. He said he plans to connect with mortgage brokers in the Knoxville area, then spread to East and Middle Tennessee and beyond. He predicted his company would be profitable the second year.

The only woman in the class of entrepreneurs, Alicia Caputo, CEO of Avrio Analytics, said her product will deliver the promise of Big Data by delivering analytics to a broader section of small business. The software will allow companies to generate predictive models based on data without requiring data science expertise.

Caputo said her efforts to launch the company were greatly enhanced by the experience of working with KEC and the CodeWorks program. She is seeking $500,000 for software development, operations and marketing.

Following the presentations the crowd was treated to a few skits performed by local comedy troupe Einstein Simplified. Shark Tank Simplified parodied the Shark Tank show popular with entrepreneurs and inventors. The would be entrepreneurs pitched ideas such as Sarcastalic, a new font that lets readers of text messages and email know you are being sarcastic. Not surprisingly, potential investors played by members of the troupe balked at the opportunity.

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