Knoxville Based bounceit Launches Social Decision Making Platform

bounceit, Knoxville startup, Tennessee startup, startup launch

A group of Knoxville entrepreneurs has launched a new and exciting social decision making app called bounceit. Now social decision making isn’t anything new, we’ve seen several startups try and succeed in this space.

Startups like Brooklyn based JustDecide come to mind when we think about social decision making platforms. Where others have fallen short in the past though, the crew at bounceit has figured out ways to make social decision making more fluid, easy to take in and easier to decide and vote on. Their highly visual platform makes the entire process more intuitive.

Users begin by uploading a question or statement, accompanied by a photo: “Should I buy this outfit?” “Is this car cool?” “Want to go out after the game?” Other users vote your question up or down for yes/no, or like/dislike. A realtime line graph shows you all theirresponses over time to aid in your decision making!

bounceit1Until bounceit, many people relied on Facebook and their own social networks to help make decisions; “With bounceit!™, a user can post an opinion, decision, idea or just a cool photo, and thanks to our unique line graph they’ll actually see instantly if people agree or not. It’s crowd-sourced decision making at its best! With our graphing capabilities, a user immediately sees if something is a like or a dislike. You can see whether there is overwhelming agreement or any struggle it has gone through among users. That tells a much more powerful story than a bar graph or percentages.” co-founder Gary Hardin told nibletz in an interview.


Hardin explained, “People today research and bounce ideas off friends before they do something or buy an item. bounceit!™ streamlines that process for them. Crowdsourced sharing and decision making is everywhere now. We just make it more fun and in one centralized location!”

Bounceit is now available in the iTunes app store, download it here. For more information visit Check out Bounceit in person at Everywhere Else Cincinnati.



Knoxville Startup Puts Celebrities, Sports Stars, Musicians In The iSpotlight

iSpotlight, Knoxville startup, startup interview

With all of the information available on the internet, and so many different ways  to access it, getting what you really need and want when you really need and want it can be challenging. There are several news and social aggregators out there now. These web based platforms can find a broad range of information or a concentrated range of information by category. Now, a Knoxville startup wants to be the place you go to find everything available online about your favorite stars and athletes.

iSpotlight is a mobile app that’s like Hootsuite, Google Alerts, ESPN, and even Ticketmaster rolled into one. In one sharp, and appealing interface you can tell iSpotlight who your favorite musicians, celebrities, athletes and sports teams are, and it will in turn serve up everything it can find across the web and social. iSpotlight can even tell the user when a team’s next game is or a musicians next concert is, and then point you to the tickets.

The Eastern Tennessee startup has already completed a seed round and is looking forward to launching and then closing their Series A round to bring the ultimate in fandom apps to millions of users worldwide.

bounceit-sponsorWe got a chance to talk with Ryan Kelly, the CEO and co-founder of iSpotlight. Check out the interview below.

What is your startup called?

iSpotlight   (

What does your company do?

We are developing a mobile app that consolidates all of the news, social media, event schedules, and merchandise/tickets/music for your favorite athletes, music artists, and entertainers, all in one convenient location.

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds

Ryan Kelly, CEO, has been a financial advisor with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management in Knoxville, TN. As founding member of the Venable Pruitt & Kelly Group, Ryan has contributed to the merging of 3 additional successful practices all into one of the largest high net worth wealth management teams in the region.

Patrick Kelly, COO, a graduate of the University of Tennessee’s MBA program, and recipient of 1st Place in the program’s Business Plan Presentations for a project including building a Wakeboard Cable Park in East Tennessee. Patrick is currently the Consumer Products Manager for HGTV.

Where are you based?

Based in Knoxville, TN

What’s the startup scene like where you are based?

East TN has an emerging startup atmosphere, with many Angel Groups and Startup Incubators promoting the ongoing growth and success of local entrepreneurs.

What problem do you solve?

With the vast amount of information available on so many different platforms, people spend a great deal of time searching the Internet for news and bouncing from social media app to social media app. Looking into the numbers, individuals are sought after in much higher rates than general news. So with the existence of general news aggregators, iSpotlight found an opportunity to give the users what they want, everything they search for regarding their favorite stars and celebrities, all in one convenient location.

Why now?

The marketplace has seen the recent emergence of general news aggregation, and has even begun to see the startup of some category-specific (sports-only, music-only, etc) social media aggregators. So while the last several years has been so instrumental in bringing so many forms of communication to the user, now is the opportunity to consolidate them together. And since news publications and social media like Facebook and Twitter already have such a loyal audience, why compete with them? Rather, bring them all around the table together.

What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?

We have completed our Seed Round of funding. Also, we have been using the Agile methodology during development, and have received Sprint 3 of 5, and expect to see Sprint 4 released on July 8th.

What are your next milestones?

Our next milestones include our Series A funding round for operational purposes, as well our milestone to complete development on July 29th, and hopefully a smooth and efficient beta testing period and Apple App Store approval, so that we can launch the app to the public very soon. Once this is successful, we plan to begin working on our development of iSpotlight for Android.

Where can people find out more? Any social media links you want to share?

People can follow our updates at They can also follow us on Twitter (@iSpotlightApp), “Like” us on Facebook (, and connect with us on LinkedIn (


Voices Heard Media Helps Brands (Including Startups) Engage Their Customers


Voices Heard Media, Knoxville startup, Tennessee Startup, Startups

These days, customers expect more from brands. Gone are the days when we make a purchase and walk away. Now, we often spend time and effort researching major purchases, and we care about the companies where we choose to spend our money. With the advent of social media, we have come to expect a high level of engagement with the companies we love.

Tony Runyan puts it this way: Two-way communication is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity.

But, that engagement can be expensive and difficult for companies to maintain on their own, which is where Voices Heard Media comes in.

Voices Heard Media provides a suite of plugins that increase customer engagement. Their products include apps that handle contests/sweepstakes, trivia/quizzes, social media streams, live Q&A sessions, video polls, and conversation around a brand. They work with big names like Disney, Food Network, and Fox Sports.

Will Overstreet founded Voices Heard Media in 2007. In his former gig as an Atlanta Falcon and sports broadcaster, Overstreet noticed that a simple conversation with a fan increased the likelihood that the fan would buy a jersey, listen to a show, or tell friends and family about Overstreet’s brand. He realized that there had to be a scalable way to take that kind of interaction into the digital world.

Tony Runyan joined the company in 2008 and made the initial big sales they needed. Now the VP of Product, Runyan develops new products, among other things.

So, what can the Voices Heard Media products do?

When I ran into them at the Southland Summit last month, I recognized the Food Network site on their display computer. The company wanted to increase engagement on their site, so they had Voices Heard Media create a Q&A session with the most recent The Next Food Network Star winner. The idea was simple enough: visitors sent in questions over one week, then Aarti Sequeria answered them. But the magic happened when, after the event closed, it still continued to drive traffic and interactions on the site.

All products from Voices Heard Media work on a company’s website, mobile site, and Facebook tab. The company sees this flexibility as absolutely necessary in today’s digital world.

They may work with some of the biggest names in the country, but they also handle smaller, local-focused companies like news outlets, political campaigns, and creative agencies.

Their prices are pretty startup-friendly, too, starting at only $50 for a basic package. And they can bring the same expertise they’ve built with big brands to your new company.

Check out Voices Heard Media and see how they can help your startup engage your audience.



Knoxville Startup: FairMechanics Launches To Help You Find Fair Mechanics

Knoxville, a town in the great state of Tennessee with just under 200,000 people has an entrepreneurial revolution occurring right now. A community group called “Entrepreneurs of Knoxville” or EOK for short, has seen over 40 small businesses and startups launch.

EOK was founded in April 2008 by Leonard “Leo”  R. Knight Jr and today it’s amassed over 950 members. They offer a variety of programming from entrepreneurial “support groups” to mentorship efforts and everything in between. They also hold work shops, lectures and a variety of other great events.

Knoxville is just one of nine entrepreneurial pockets across the state of Tennessee. In fact, with nine different high growth areas that means Tennessee residents are never more than an hour and a half away from an entrepreneurial hub. Also, all nine regions within Tennessee are participating in the upcoming Global Entrepreneurship week.

EOK Founder Leo Knight and EOK member Augustine Gattuso launched EOK’s latest startup “FairMechanics” on Thursday.

As you might imagine the goal behind FairMechanics is to help consumers find the most fair mechanic for their next repair needs. FairMechanics offers their platform for bidding out auto problems on the web, and mobile devices with an iOS and Android app.

Rather than just offering a directory of local mechanics, FairMechanics’, platform allows users to bid out the work they need done on their cars. FairMechanics is looking for mechanics to join their service. They’re offering a “first 10 bids” free program for early adopters on the mechanic side.

Their website doesn’t say the vetting process for the mechanics but we’d imagine that there is some kind of process set in order to be able to call the service “FairMechanics” in the first place.

Users will create a profile for their vehicle and post a job out for bid. Mechanics will get the bids delivered to them via email and then the user/shopper will decide on the best mechanic for the job, from the bids they received. A ratings system will be in place when the work is done so that feedback can be given to the mechanics so they can bid on future jobs.

The shopper in this scenario is just as integral to the business model as the mechanic. FairMechanics is helping the user/shopper get their repair work done at the best cost, with the best customer service and the quickest possible. On the mechanic side FairMechanics is giving out job leads for mechanics, and what mechanic would turn down a good quality lead.


Check out this great Knoxville startup here

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Knoxville Startup: Credit Virgin To Educate And Protect Young Adults From Credit Whoas

Nate Buchanan a graduate of the University of Tennessee and the founder of a new startup called “Credit Virgin” is looking to help as many young people, and college students make their credit lives easier. The Knoxville news reports that when Buchanan and a friend went to rent an apartment, the friend couldn’t get approved for the apartment because he had no credit history.  It didn’t matter that the friend worked fll time and both perspective tenants made more than enough to afford the apartment. Because Buchanan’s friend hadn’t established any credit they were turned away.

Of course Buchanan knows that as young adults between 18-24 credit can be a double edged sword. Although it’s not as prevalent as it was in the late 90’s and early part of the 2000’s, there are still plenty of credit card companies and other finance companies that prey on college students who are already racking up enormous amounts of debt with student loans.

According to the UT Federal Credit Union, the average college student graduates with $8,000 in credit debt,outside student loans.

Through Credit Virgin, Buchanan hopes to first educate college students and young adults on the pro’s and cons of credit and how to establish credit via videos delivered on the startups website. He hopes to also integrate the site with a credit card evaluation tool which will compare terms and conditions as well as interest rates and other need to know information about credit cards typically offered to college students.

Buchanan hopes to also offer a credit monitoring service for students and their parents so they can monitor their credit together.

Credit, when used responsibly, can be a tool for young adults starting to establish themselves.

“Younger people don’t realize the implications of that until they go to buy a car and they have to get a loan, or they try and buy a house and don’t have a down payment,” Melinda Wood, Vice President of Marketing at the UT Federal Credit Union said to the Knoxville News.


Source: Knoxville News

Find out more about CreditVirgin here

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Knoxville Startup: Virtuous Products Wins Business Plan Competition

Imagine if you could take recycled bottles and turn them into flooring, countertops and even outdoor casual furniture. Well you don’t have to imagine it anymore because Mark Wassenaar and his startup Virtuous Products Inc, have created it. Well at least the business plan for it.

The material called Sedonite uses recycled glass with the strength and look of resin or cement based products at a fraction of the cost, and much greener.

“We were impressed by all the entrepreneurs who took part in this competition,” Todd Napier, executive vice president of The Development Corporation of Knox County and co-presenter of the program with the Knoxville Chamber and Tech20/20 said. “Virtuous Products shows an enormous amount of promise and the judges indicated they expect big things from the start-up in the years to come.”

The Knoxville Chamber Business Plan Competition actually started back in April. That’s when Wassenaar submitted his original business plan. He was able to survive four rounds of judging which included written summaries and in person proof of concept presentations.

Tabletops made out of recycled glass and "sedonite" are why Virtuous Products won the Knoxville Chamber Competition (photo:

As the winner of the competition Virtuous Products wins:

  •         $10,000 grant for start-up costs
  •      $15,000 potential investment: Tech 20/20 Venture Start-up Fund
  •      One-year’s rent at the Fairview Technology Center
  •      Accounting services provided by Rodefer Moss & Company
  •      Business coaching provided by CEO Advisors
  •      IT Hosting/Services by The IT Company & Digital Crossing Networks
  •      Legal Services by Kathleen Zitzman
  •      Chamber membership by the Knoxville Chamber
  •      Business coaching by Tech 20/20

Wassenaar has plans to use the prize money to purchase a glass crusher, which will allow him to take recycled beer bottles and smash them into a sand-like consistency. From there, his company takes the material and can put it into a molding with a proprietary bonding agent that creates a faux stone surface that is as strong and less expensive than most competitors on the market today.

 “I’ve been in manufacturing my whole life. I try to get out but it just keeps coming back because there is so much creativity involved. I literally lie awake at night thinking of new ideas,” Mark Wassenaar, the founder and CEO of Virtuous Products said. “This competition, even if I didn’t win, it would have been an unbelievable opportunity because the competition really helped me along the way.”

Find out more about Sedonite and Vertous Products here
Find out more about the Knoxville Chamber here
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