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Knoxville entrepreneurs compete in 'shark-tank' style pitch competitions, win thousands of dollars

The Innov865 Alliance hosted the 2022 startup day, where six entrepreneurs competed and showed off their most promising products.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Innov865 Alliance hosted the 2022 Startup Day event, where entrepreneurs were encouraged to come, pitch their business ideas, and seek funding from the judges and community.

"It's kind of like a 'Shark Tank' but superpowered, we like to call it Maker's City Tank and make it our own thing," said Chris McAdoo, who moderated the event.

McAdoo is the Director of Strategy & Engagement at the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center. According to Innov865, this year was the most expansive Startup Day they've ever hosted. That's because entrepreneurs run the gambit of industries — everything from kitchen cutlery to batteries and extended reality workforce programs.

Six entrepreneurs took the stage and presented to a live audience at the Mill and Mine. The Judges' Choice winner won $3,000 and the Crowd Favorite winner won $7,000.

John Phillips was the winner of the crowd Favorite Award with his cutlery collection, Primeaux. He says it's some of the finest kitchenware and cutlery in the world. All of the knives are made in downtown Knoxville. Phillips said it was a big honor to be selected as the crowd favorite.

"It felt really cool to be the crowd favorite. It felt like I'm really a part of this community, and everyone is behind me. That was really cool," Phillips said

This is just the first event in a week-long celebration of entrepreneurs and small businesses in the Knoxville community. Other events include educational panels, investor roundtable discussions, social events, and more. You can find the full list of those events on the Innov865 website.

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