It was a busy 2022 at Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, with events like our annual 'What's the Big Idea' pitch competition, the exciting 'Growth & Grit' Inc 5000 celebration, and the biggest, best Maker City Summit ever. Educational programming like the 'Let Her Speak: Access to Capital' series and our 'Make, Learn, Grow' maker meetups continue to engage, challenge, and grow our entrepreneurial community. To top it off, our #MadeforKnoxville storytelling initiative continues to grow exponentially, with thousands of shares, hundreds of founder stories and engaging live stage events, with even bigger plans for 2023.In fact, 2023 marks 10 years of KEC, and 10 years of changing lives through entrepreneurship.
We've got big, bold ideas to share, but our most important focus is always the success of the entrepreneurs we serve. With that in mind, I reached out to several founders about what 2022 looked like for their companies, and what they've got in store for 2023.'PowerUp has grown to nearly 400 schools and youth organizations this year, and more than 57,000 students across the country are participating in PowerUp programs! It's exciting to see the impact of physical activity aligned with academics. Since 2019, we've focused on the growth of PowerUp Your School, our school-based fitness program for grades K-8, and in 2023, we're launching PowerUp Peanuts, and it's all about movement, learning, and fun for preschoolers.' - Stacy Baugues, founder of PowerUp Fitness'Veteran Ventures closed our first fund to new investors (Dec.
16). We have deployed nearly $5 million in investor capital to 10 companies, and we have experienced our first markup in the fund! As we look to fully deploy the fund in 2023 and 2024, we seek to leverage our significant connections within the federal government and defense industry to garner an additional $5 million in non-dilutive funding from these sources to further de-risk our investment and allow our portfolio companies to scale faster than their competitors.' - Derren Burrell, founder and president of Veteran Ventures Capital"This year I am particularly proud of how the RDI team handled a rapidly changing and unpredictable business environment. The best laid plans can get derailed in an instant and our team did a wonderful job of adapting product release plans to deal with supply chain issues, navigating sales and marketing during cycles of plant shutdowns, and running a growing, profitable business during an ever-changing financial environment.
Next year we are looking forward to acquiring companies that grow our portfolio of products and reach new markets. We are excited about rapidly expanding a global business based in Knoxville." -Jenna Johns, COO, RDI Technologies'In 2022, I finally put myself out there in the entrepreneurial world and took my first ever business class at KEC. I went in not knowing how much I didn't know, went through the varying stages of "Oh my God" and "What am I doing" and "I'll never grasp this" to "Okay, okay - we can do this! In 2023 I hope to implement the things I learned in CO.STARTERS, to continue to show up in the Knoxville community and deepen the relationships I developed over the past year.' - Kelsey Dillow, founder of Kelsey Tiara Photo'For me, 2022 was a year of incredible opportunities in entrepreneurship.
From participating in the Innov865 Startup Day Pitch Competition to building diverse relationships with my 100Knoxville cohort, it's been a wonderful year of growth, collaboration, and development. Moving into 2023, I'm dedicated to expanding ThinkUp's outreach and providing services to 40 more local organizations who are ready to help their teams grow. We've hit the ground running in 2022, so I feel optimistic about what the new year will bring!' - Douglas Mapp, founder of ThinkUp'While we're incredibly proud to do so much work that impacts our community here in Knoxville and the surrounding area, expanding our footprint is something we're always striving for.
2022 saw us produce content in 20 different states and Mexico, all while constantly raising the bar in terms of the production value we provide our clients. In addition to some aggressive growth strategies for our video production department, our biggest goal for 2023 is to expand our marketing team, and add 2-3 new team members by the end of the year. We've been extremely fortunate to land some amazing clients for this department right out of the gate, and it's time to bolster our team to continue to reach our full potential.' - Andy Feliu, co-founder, Loch & Key Productions'I am really proud of how the team has grown this year, not just in terms of size and revenue, but personal growth.
We have had new senior management, new executives, and new managers that have come up through the ranks and are now responsible for a large chunk of service delivery. In 2023, we are looking forward to getting more streamlined for client service, and also looking into starting a new service line that we consider "managed services light" for local governments across the country.' - AV Verekar, founder of Avero AdvisorsIf you're interested in learning more about our entrepreneurial community, visit knoxec.com, and remember that Knoxville is made for ALL Entrepreneurs. Join the community and tell us your #MadeForKnoxville story at madeforknoxville.com.Chris McAdoo, chief of strategy and engagement for Knoxville Entrepreneur Center and host of the Big Ideas Welcome podcast, artist and entrepreneurial evangelist.
He has spent over 20 years building businesses, forging a successful art career, and speaking all over the country on the power of creativity and challenging assumptions. Connect with Chris at EMAIL