LaunchTN’s 36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival panel sessions with TAEBC Executive Director, Innovation Crossroads Cohort Three, highlight value of Energy Mentor Network

LaunchTN’s 36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival celebrates visionaries and innovators who are actively shaping their entrepreneurial ecosystems through their expertise, research and forward-thinking ideas. 

During the 10-day, virtual festival, Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council Executive Director, Cortney Piper, spoke in a panel session about innovation partnerships, while the Innovation Crossroads Cohort Three startups held a live Q&A session with alumni Megan O’Connor of Nth Cycle. O’Connor and the Cohort Three startups are enrolled in TAEBC’s Energy Mentor Network program.  

The “Startup, Inc.: Advancing Strategy with Innovation Partnerships” panel session featured Piper; Reed Hayes, AVP of Digital Strategy & Innovation at Unum; and Anthony Oni, Co-founder and CEO of Cloverly, and Vice President Corporate Communications at Southern Company Gas. The panel was moderated by Daley Ervin, the Managing Director of Engage. 

Participants discussed how investing in innovation partnerships can be lucrative for small or large businesses, and can help rapidly increase scale for emerging companies or advance existing strategies for market incumbents. They explained how and why companies and organizations invest in establishing these partnerships, along with how other businesses can benefit from doing the same.

Piper spoke about the mission of TAEBC to champion advanced energy as an “economic development and job creation strategy,” along with the Energy Mentor Network, which is run by TAEBC in partnership with LaunchTN. One of the main goals of the Energy Mentor Network, said Piper, is to “foster the growth of advanced energy companies and technologies in the state of Tennessee.” 

In the final segment of the panel, Piper explained that the Energy Mentor Network helps startups learn how to “concisely and compellingly” tell their story, understand that “just because a company can partner with you, doesn’t mean they will,” and to be persistent when reaching out to potential partners or sources of funding.

Meanwhile, the “Live AMA with ORNL’s Innovation Crossroads” showcased O’Connor sitting down with seven members of Cohort Three to discuss what is next on the frontiers of cleantech and energy. Cohort Three includes Williams Fitzhugh of American Nanotechnologies Inc., Hicham Ghossein of Endeavor Composites Inc., Jesse Claypoole of MantaPoole Technologies, Leila Safavi of Purist Inc., Trevor McQueen of Neptune Fluid Flow Systems, Alex Lewis of Electro-Active Technologies Inc., and Jesse Thornburg of Grid Fruit

During the session, Cohort Three startups answered questions ranging from what advice they would give to burgeoning entrepreneurs to how the Tennessee ecosystem has helped their companies over the past year.

“This area has so much to offer. It’s so accessible,” explained McQueen. “It has helped every facet of our business grow. We couldn’t be happier.” 

Safavi remarked that the best piece of advice she would give to new entrepreneurs or researchers is to have a “great support group.”

“Without them pushing me forward at times when I had doubt, without their support, it wouldn’t be possible,” she continued. “Having a good group of supporters that can advise you and help you move forward is key.”

O’Connor echoed Safavi’s advice about the importance of support systems, saying, “I think that’s one of the great benefits of Innovation Crossroads, having that really early stage support behind you.”

To learn more about the Energy Mentor Network program or become a mentor, click here.

Vote for Nth Cycle to win crowd favorite prize at 36|86

Have you cast your vote for the Crowd Favorite Award from the list of finalists for the LaunchTN Pitch Competition at the 36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival yet? Innovation Crossroads startup Nth Cycle is eligible to win — so start voting today!

The Crowd Favorite Award provides competing startups a chance to win $10,000 to invest in their business. Live poll results will appear on LaunchTN’s website until Aug. 12. Voting will end Aug. 29 at 12p.m. CT, one hour before the pitch competition starts. The winner will be announced at the end of the competition.

Nth Cycle is enrolled within TAEBC’s Energy Mentor Network. The network’s goal is to foster the growth of Tennessee advanced energy technologies and startups by connecting entrepreneurs with mentors and industry specific expertise. Nth Cycle will be pitching onstage representing TAEBC.

So don’t forget to cast your vote for the $10,000 Crowd Favorite Award!

Nth Cycle is developing a recycling technology that utilizes carbon nanotube membranes for enhanced separation and recovery of solid rare earth and specialty elements (RESE)-oxides.  If successful, this technology will provide a high-throughput electrochemical recovery process for recycling RESE as an alternative to the conventional energy-intensive extraction and refining processes currently used to obtain these metals for manufacturing.  She holds a PhD in civil and environmental engineering from Duke University and is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Nth Cycle.

36|86 provides experience, exposure to EMN company Solar Site Design

Solar Site Design, an Energy Mentor Network (EMN) company, took the stage to pitch at 36|86 Entrepreneurship and Technology Conference in front of more than a thousand attendees. The company is based in Nashville, Tennessee.

Solar Site Design is a collaborative, cloud-based marketplace platform that connects sales-ready solar projects to leading solar companies to drive down customer acquisition costs.

The company was one of 36 companies that competed for the $50,000 FedEx Innovation prize, and while Solar Site Design didn’t end up walking away with the big check, they did succeed in several other ways.

“Solar Site Design was the only cleantech company presenting at 36|86, and it was an honor to represent the solar industry,” said Jason Loyet, Founder.

Previous Story: Energy Mentor Network company Solar Site Design to compete at 36|86 in Nashville

The Energy Mentor Network’s goal is to foster the growth of Tennessee advanced energy technologies and startups by connecting entrepreneurs with mentors.

Solar Site Design has been meeting with its mentoring team frequently leading up to 36|86 getting strategic business, marketing and financial guidance by participating in a series of panels and discussions to better prepare them to raise capital and gain traction.

The company’s mentoring team includes Entrepreneur-in-Residence Harvey Abouelata, President of ARiES Solar, Domain Experts Coleman Adams, Managing Director of Crescendo Power, and John Hopkins, a Consultant and Business Mentor.

“Our mentors have been instrumental in advising and discussing our value proposition in the solar industry,” said Loyet.

He went on to say the Energy Mentor Network has better helped Solar Site Design broaden its message to include investors, stakeholders, and more customers.

“We’ve been working closely with ARiES Solar, not just as a mentor, but also as an active, participating member in our commercial marketplace,” said Loyet. “It’s incredible to have customers work with us.”

Solar Site Design will be making an announcement at the Intersolar Conference in San Francisco on July 10 involving a global Fortune 500 company.

“It’ll catapult us into the next step of the cleantech industry,” said Loyet.

Energy Mentor Network company Solar Site Design to compete at 36|86 in Nashville

Solar Site Design, an Energy Mentor Network (EMN) company, will soon be competing for a hefty cash prize in front of more than a thousand attendees at the 36|86 Entrepreneurship and Technology Conference next week. The company is based in Nashville, Tennessee.

Solar Site Design is a collaborative, cloud-based marketplace platform that connects sales-ready solar projects to leading solar companies to drive down customer acquisition costs.

Solar Site Design is one of 36 companies competing for the $50,000 FedEx Innovation prize at 36|86. Many of the startups pitching are rising leaders in the Southeast, innovating in industries like advanced energy that have been core to the region’s economy.

The Energy Mentor Network company has been meeting with TAEBC mentors for months getting strategic business, marketing and financial guidance by participating in a series of panels and discussions to better prepare them to raise capital and gain traction.

Competing startups at 36|86 will get unparalleled access to the largest gathering of early-stage investment firms in the Southeast via curated Speed Dating sessions and dedicated exhibit time, plus insights from thought leaders, innovators and fellow entrepreneurs.

36|86 is the Southeast’s premier technology event for entrepreneurs, investors and thought leaders from across the country. The conference is powered by Launch Tennessee, a public-private partnership that fosters entrepreneurship and works to make Tennessee the most start-up friendly state in the country.

Between June 4-7, 36|86 will bring together disruptors, founders and creators of cutting-edge innovations for the Southeast’s premier technology and entrepreneurial event.

There’s still time to buy tickets for the conference.

At 36|86, there will be ample opportunities to start conversations with peers, investors and high-net-worth individuals. Attendees can choose from workshops, coffee breaks and after-hours parties to network. You also have the option to stroll through “Village 36” and meet the founders of the next great Southern start-up, as well as meet with one of the 180 active investors who’ll be looking for companies that deliver.

Launch Tennessee partnered with TAEBC to form the Energy Mentor Network. Its goal is to foster the growth of Tennessee advanced energy technologies and startups by connecting entrepreneurs with mentors and industry specific expertise. To participate in the Network or become a mentor, click here.