SEEC 2018: Conference Speakers,

Pitch Judges & Networking Professionals


Conference Speakers 

Felicia JacksonFelicia Jackson, a resident of Hixson, Tennessee, is an entrepreneur and the inventor of The CPR LifeWrap. With over 20 years of medical experience in acute inpatient rehab, outpatient care and home health care settings, she holds an A.A.S. Degree from Chattanooga State Technical Community College. She recently moved on from her position as a Physical Therapist Assistant at Memorial Hospital to pursue her new journey of becoming an entrepreneur. Felicia also holds her certification from the American Heart Association as a certified CPR instructor. After the sudden and unforeseen death of a beloved family member and the near death of her 2-year old son, Felicia had a vision of a product that could help save lives. She sought help from the LAUNCH Business Entrepreneurship Academy and CO.LAB Accelerator Program, and after graduating she debuted the CPR LifeWrap. To date, her invention has been featured on Becker's Health IT and CIO Review, hypepotamus, CHI Memorial Magazine, Edge Magazine, and countless other media outlets, while also being a TEDx Talk speaker at Baylor. Felicia is currently working hard to make CPR LifeWrap accessible to everyone, so that performing CPR is less intimidating. "Emergency situations can cause panic and leave people unsure of how to help. I hope the CPR LifeWrap takes away that fear and in turn empowers people to save lives."

Stefanie CroweStefanie Crowe is a wealth advisory and banking veteran, an entrepreneur and an angel investor. She serves as Director of Wealth, Knowledge & Happiness for Stone Bridge Asset Management based in Chattanooga, TN. Additionally, she is co-founder and general partner of The JumpFund, a southeastern angel group investing in female-led start-ups. Stefanie is a frequent presenter on topics related to wealth-building, entrepreneurship, leadership and community-building.

Ryan HennRyan Henn has dedicated his career to helping small business owners turn their dreams into reality. After graduating from Bryan College with a degree in Business Management in 2010, he worked at a community bank in his hometown of Winchester, TN. Once moving to Chattanooga, he taught business owners the keys to succeed as a senior small business counselor with the Tennessee Small Business Development Center. Today, he helps entrepreneurs of all stages find the best loan for their needs at TN Valley Federal Credit Union. When Ryan's not helping members, he can be found networking at community events. And after work, he enjoys playing softball and golf. 

Chris CummingsChris Cummings is the founder and CEO of Pass It Down, an award-winning storytelling company that helps families, businesses, and cities around the world collect and preserve their memories. Pass It Down has been recognized globally as a leading innovator in the field of storytelling. Chris is a six-time collegiate state champion in public speaking and debate, a national champion speaker, and winner of over 100 speaking and debate awards. He volunteers his time to help teach entrepreneurs how to pitch their startups. He received his J.D. from the Paul M. Hebert LSU Law Center and has clerked for numerous judges including the honorable Chief Justice Johnson of the Louisiana Supreme Court. Chris is a panelist for the Federal Public Defender's office. He received a double B.A. in Political Science and International Relations from Louisiana State University.

Bill Pollard has over 40 years of experience in small business finance. He began his career by starting up, purchasing, and exiting or merging eight businesses in the fields of industrial supply, boat sales, manufacturing, transportation, environment remediation and consultation. Since then, he has served as the Organizer of a local community bank and a partner in Deep Springs Capital Partners. Bill currently holds several titles, including the President of Pollard Properties, a small business consulting firm and owner/manager of real estate; President of RMB Entertainment Inc., a company that serves as a music event promoter and contract operator of music venues; and manager at BrightBridge Inc., a non-profit economic development organization that helps lend to businesses who may not be able to get loans or financing from traditional banks and lenders. At BrightBridge, Bill specializes in special projects management, IT management, real property management, New Markets Tax Credits, CDFI operations, and strategic initiatives.

Brian TrautscholdBrian Trautschold is the founder and COO of Ambition, a Chattanooga-based company and Y Combinator graduate that has raised seed capital from SV Angel, Redpoint Ventures, and Google Ventures en route to operating profitability which was attained in 2016. Originally from Memphis, Tennessee and a graduate of the University of Tennessee - Knoxville, Brian worked at HP and US Xpress before starting Ambition in 2013 which now has employees across the country with customers including UPS, Clayton Homes, ADP, Aerotek, and Lyft.

Ryan RussellA six-year veteran of social media and digital strategy, Ryan Russell has extensive experience crafting powerful digital strategies, growing active online communities with engaging digital content, and implementing targeted digital paid search campaigns. With both agency and brand experience, Ryan has guided B2B and B2C brands through all stages of development, from startup to established brands.

Ryan is currently an Adjunct Professor of Digital Marketing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and also works with both agencies and brands to develop and implement their online and offline strategies as founder and President of Ryan Russell Marketing.

Marcus ShawMarcus Shaw joins CO.LAB as a recent transplant from the Baltimore-D.C. area. Marcus is the former senior director of business development and partnerships for Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), a D.C.-based nonprofit that helps build diversity and leadership pipelines for corporate institutions, nonprofit organizations and government agencies. While there, he significantly grew MLT's partnerships with Fortune 500 partners and led the proposal for an entrepreneurship development program focused on women and minorities. Marcus is also the founder of a boutique consulting company that specializes in working with startups and small to medium-sized businesses. Marcus holds an MBA from Duke University as well as a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from Morehouse College and a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology.

Ted AllingAs students and fraternity brothers at Samford University in Birmingham, Ted Alling, Allan Davis, and Barry Large often talked about starting a company together. After going their separate ways upon graduation, the three reunited in Chattanooga to start Access America Transport. In the following 12 years, Access America became one of the leading third-party logistics providers in America working with 90 Fortune 500 companies, across nine offices totaling 500 employees. After reaching $500 million in annual revenue, Access America merged with Coyote Logistics in 2014, which subsequently sold to UPS in 2015.

As Access America grew and incubated sister companies AAT Carriers, Reliance Partners and Steam Logistics, Alling, Davis and Large formed Lamp Post Group to invest in Chattanooga-based entrepreneurs. Lamp Post helped usher in a new era downtown, establishing Chattanooga as a legitimate place to start and operate a high-growth technology company. Inspired by their own entrepreneurial journey, Alling, Davis and Large have demonstrated a "founders first" investment approach at Lamp Post.

Alling grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and graduated from Vestavia Hills High School. Alling then met Chattanooga natives and McCallie graduates Davis and Large at Samford University. All three have chosen to make their homes in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the greatest mid-sized city in the world.

Kenzie ButeraKenzie Butera is a Junior at UTC majoring in Women's Studies. She has been involved in Chattanooga's start-up scene since stepping foot on campus, serving as a two-year President of the Entrepreneurship Club, as well as working in the Startup District's CO.LAB under Director Marcus Shaw. She also serves on the Student Advisory Board for LaunchTN and the Youth Leadership Council for Healthy and Free Tennessee. Kenzie plans on staying in the entrepreneurship field upon graduation, and looks forward to using her connections in Chattanooga to get a foot up in jumpstarting her career.

Scott LeroyScott Leroy is a first generation college graduate and proud alum of UTC. He graduated with a degree in accounting from UTC in 1979 before receiving a law degree from the University of Tennessee in 1982. Leroy returned back to Chattanooga in 1982 and has served UTC and the community through a variety of roles, helping the university and city grow to where it is today. He is the founder of Leroy Law Firm, and serves the local community through his office just a few miles away from campus.

Leroy's involvement with UTC first started when he served on the Dean's Advisory Board for the College of Business before jumping onto the Alumni Board. His goal for the Alumni Board was to enrich the relationship between UTC and the local community. Leroy notes that a majority of UTC's alumni are within 100 miles of Chattanooga, and it is important to maintain strong relationships with them. Leroy has devoted countless hours to other endeavors, as well, serving as a trustee of the UC Foundation Board, past chair of the Chancellor's Round Table, former president of the UTC Alumni Board, and a former member of the UT Board of Governors. In addition, he has served on the boards of READ Chattanooga, St. Barnabus Nursing Home, Siskin Children's Institute and Midsouth Commercial Law Institute. Due to his dedication to seeing UTC and the community grow, Leroy was given UTC's Outstanding Service Award in 2016. This award honors those who give outstanding service to the university and the community.

Shelley D. Rucker has served as a United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee since 2010. Judge Rucker practiced bankruptcy law with the firm of Miller & Martin PLLC for twenty-seven years prior to taking the bench. She previously served as chairperson of the firm's Commercial Department and practice group leader of the Bankruptcy Creditor Rights Group. She was a board member and President of the Mid-South Commercial Law Institute. In 2000, she served on the Joint Committee of the Tennessee Bar Association and the Tennessee Bankers Association that worked on the enactment of Revised Article 9 in Tennessee. She has been a member of both the Tennessee and Georgia Bars since 1982. She is a frequent lecturer on the subject of bankruptcy. She is a fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy. She currently serves as the editor-in-chief of the Conference News, the newsletter for the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges.

Alexander Jamal Davis, or A.J. as he is known by many, is originally from Nashville, TN. Upon graduating from Nashville School of the Arts, A.J. attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where he earned a degree in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. While attending UTC, he served as President of the UTC Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization, working to establish the UTC Elevator Pitch Competition. He also sought to connect students with various resources in the Chattanooga community to further the entrepreneurial spirit on campus. In addition, he served as Resident Assistant to the inaugural class of the Business LLC (Living Learning Community). During his studies, he was active in multiple student organizations: CRU (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ), Collegiate 100, Scholarly Men in Action, and Campus Flood Ministries. Upon completion of his Bachelor's, A.J. decided to further his education by pursuing a Master's of Divinity from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. As a current student at SBTS, he has sought to implement his undergraduate degree by serving the local church in various capacities as well as co-founding a student organization focused on racial reconciliation. After A.J. completes his Master's, he hopes to return to the business arena to work with start-ups and eventually transition into full-time vocational ministry as a pastor.

Stephen VlahosStephen Vlahos is the founder and original CEO of Bellhops, a Chattanooga-based company that has raised $27.2M from leading Venture firms to disrupt the $25B moving industry. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama and a graduate of Auburn University, Stephen started Bellhops in 2013 and grew the company to 110 employees before passing the reigns to an Uber executive so that he can build his next company which is currently in stealth mode.

 Conference Networkers



Dan LevanDan LeVan has been a CEO and CFO with four top global companies, including AIG Central Europe, AEGON Asia, and GE Capital. He has most recently acted as Managing Director and Chairman of TD Bank in the Caribbean. Dan received his MBA with emphasis in International Finance from DePaul University in Chicago, graduating with distinction. He is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), maintaining ten other financial certifications and has a B.S. in Accounting and Business. Dan brings a global perspective to project financing, having worked on six continents and operating at the highest level.

Sheldon GrizzleBorn and raised in Boca Raton, FL, Sheldon Grizzle moved to Chattanooga to attend Covenant College where he studied psychology and was a two-time All-American soccer player. He's co-founded several companies across multiple industries, including Very, Chattanooga Football Club, Blank Slate Ventures, CO.LAB, Tennessee Aquarium, and the Chattanooga Visitors Bureau.

At Very, Sheldon spends most of his time on Very Ventures and its portfolio of companies, which includes investments in diverse industries such as HR tech and real estate. Over the last decade, he has worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs and, through that experience, has realized there are recognizable patterns for successful early stage companies. Sheldon is passionate about creating communities that apply entrepreneurial principles to all aspects of business and civic life. Because he has played an important role in Chattanooga's meteoric rise as an internationally recognized entrepreneurial community, he has had the opportunity to write for the Wall Street Journal as a "Startup Guru" and his work has been featured in media outlets including New York Times, Washington Post, CBS News, PBS News Hour, CNBC, Forbes, FastCompany, TechCrunch, Inc, Fox Sports, and NBC Sports.

Marco PerezMarco Perez is Vice President of Operations for LAUNCH Chattanooga, a microbusiness training and coaching organization that focuses on minority-owned and women-owned businesses as well as those born in communities that are underrepresented in entrepreneurship. A native Costa Rican, Marco moved to Austin, TX in 2010 where he became fascinated by the entrepreneurial energy surrounding the city. In 2011 he moved with his family to Chattanooga and took a job as the Director of Finance and Operations for an international development organization.

He came to work at LAUNCH due to his belief that the sustainable economic growth of a city needs to be inclusive of the entire population especially microbusiness startups. His role, in addition to overseeing the operations and finances at LAUNCH, is to mentor and train business owners in areas of financial management and growth strategies.

Dan GilmoreDan Gilmore is a graduate from Baylor University's Baylor Law School, and has extensive experience in the law field. After graduating from Baylor, Gilmore served as a judge advocate in the U.S. Marine Corps where he earned the Navy Commendation Medal for his meritorious legal service. He has over 20 years of experience in private practice at Miller & Martin and Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel primarily dealing in equal employment opportunity matters, employee and management training, alternative dispute resolution, and traditional labor law, including representation elections, arbitrations, and contract negotiation and administration. He also is an active volunteer with the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, an instructor at the Tennessee Small Business Development Center, and an adjunct professor for UTC.

Just as a squire once protected the knight, Dan formed Squire Strategies in 2013 to protect companies from costly lawsuits, lost productivity, and lower employee morale. Dan is dedicated to developing and implementing proactive strategies tailored to fit the unique needs of each of his clients.

Emma MorrisEmma Morris has dedicated her working career to business, marketing, and entrepreneurship. A partner of The Morris Group (Atlanta, GA) for the past 26 years, she has hands-on experience working with small startups to Fortune 500 companies in the areas of business strategy, growth, and execution. Morris has taught business courses in some capacity at four universities, including UTC, Belhaven, Point, and Tennessee Temple. Her working career has taken stops at IBM, Cambar Business Systems, Ernst & Whinney, and Dun & Bradstreet. Additionally, she has served as the CEO of Synchrologic, ShipPoint, VistaScape Technology, and Technology Association of Georgia. 

Morris is a serial entrepreneur. She is a co-founder of ShipPoint, a last-mile solution for residential deliveries; founder of VistaScape, a high-resolution imaging and delivery technology (sold to Siemens); founder of Synchrologic, a developer of mobile and wireless infrastructure technologies (sold to Intellisync); and co-founder of Cambar Business Systems, a vertically integrated manufacturing/logistics software solution. She has used this experience to help leverage her consulting and education careers. Emma Morris is a graduate of Emory University with a B.A. in French. She later earned her MBA in International Marketing from the University of South Carolina.

Kurt SchaefferKurt Schaffer began his career as a Project Management Consultant with NASA for 8 years after graduating from the University of Alabama in Huntsville with a degree in Electrical Engineering. After finding himself unemployed after the tragedy of 9/11, he discovered a demand for his services from the client base that his former employer had developed. Out of that demand he created Episode49.

Episode49 serves its clients by providing strategy, solutions, and results within the digital marketing space specifically in web development and search engines. The company's goal is to operate with the highest character and integrity while maximizing ROI (return on internet) for their clients. Episode49 has made many transitions over the past 15 years, including major shifts in ownership, but has persisted through the recession and is growing daily. Today, they operate in a virtual working environment and serve clients across the U.S. and Europe.

Matt JannerboMatt Jannerbo, Vice Chair of Miller & Martin's Corporate Department and Chair of Miller & Martin's Emerging Business Group, focuses his practice on start-up and emerging companies, venture capital, mergers and acquisitions and general business representation. He advises companies raising capital by way of private securities offerings and venture capital financings. He has assisted companies in a number of industries which include: software services, gaming, social media, banking, furniture, restaurants, biodiesel technology, environmental clean-up technology, information technology and real estate. He has also assisted a number of private equity funds, hedge funds and investment partnerships with respect to their private capital raising efforts. 

D'Anna FarrarD'Anna Farrar is an MBA student at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Assistant Marketing Manager at Chattem, Inc. where she markets the company's Skin Care brands including GOLD BOND® and Cortizone 10®. Originally from Buffalo, NY, D'Anna graduated from Canisius College with a B.A. in Economics and began her marketing career at The Mentholatum Company where she managed and launched several new Skin Care products. D'Anna is also an aspiring entrepreneur and recent winner of the 2016 CEO Elevator Pitch Competition at UTC. She also enjoys being an active participant in Chattanooga's Junior League and Toastmasters International.

Diane HalsteadDr. Diane Halstead is the Mary Harris Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship at UTC. In this role, she provides marketing consulting to small business start-ups at the Chattanooga/Hamilton County Business Development Center. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in marketing strategy, services marketing, promotion, brand management, small business and entrepreneurship, and more. Prior to joining UTC in 1996, she taught at the University of Kentucky and Western Michigan University. Dr. Halstead earned a Ph.D. in marketing from Michigan State University and has undergraduate and MBA degrees in marketing from Western Michigan University.

In industry, Dr. Halstead served as Director of Marketing and Media Services and as Account Executive at several advertising and public relations agencies. She has also provided consulting and corporate training services for the Tennessee Valley Authority, UNUM Corporation, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Tennessee, DuPont, Ace Hardware, the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, the American Red Cross, and others.

Philip RoundyDr. Philip T. Roundy (the other "Dr. Phil") is the UC Foundation Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). Prior to coming to UTC, he was a Postdoctoral Scholar in the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his Ph.D. in Corporate Strategy from the University of Texas at Austin. His research focuses on understanding how entrepreneurship can be used as a tool for economic and community development. Through his research and consulting he has interviewed and worked with over 200 entrepreneurs and investors across North America. He has published over a dozen articles on entrepreneurship, strategic management, and organization theory and serves on the editorial boards of multiple journals.

Andrew ByrumAndrew Byrum is the Founder and CEO of Get Seated, a mobile app that tells restaurant wait times. He graduated in Spring of 2015 from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in Entrepreneurship and Marketing. Andrew resides in Chattanooga and actively participates in the city's startup scene.

Liza SoydanFollowing several years in management consulting, Liza Soydan launched Visionario, a boutique business research firm, in 2015 to provide clients with insights to inform strategic-decision making and action. Her work at Visionario draws upon her professional experience across industries and sectors, which includes leadership of partnership development efforts at a nanotechnology start-up that facilitated the transfer of promising technologies from university labs to the commercial marketplace. Before joining a Birmingham-based management consulting firm that focused on change management, Liza also informed strategy development at The Foundation for AIDS Research by leading a first-of-its-kind study of the domestic nonprofit response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

As an adjunct professor, Liza teaches undergraduate and MBA students at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga how to identify, understand, and evaluate opportunities in the marketplace and guides the students' application of this new knowledge in their consultative work to meet the business research needs of small businesses in a nine-county area surrounding Chattanooga, TN. Liza holds a Bachelor's degree in Marketing and an MBA, both from the University of West Georgia.

Joe ThrashJoe Thrash earned a Bachelor's Degree in Management from Georgia Tech and his MBA from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is currently the National Retail Relations Manager at McKee Foods, makers of the country's number one snack cake brand, Little Debbie. Prior to this role, Joe served as the Category and Shopper Development Manager with McKee. In his career, Joe has held roles in management, operations, marketing, and analytics with several national brands and companies in the financial services, retail and restaurant industries. Joe has also owned and operated a number of small businesses throughout his career, and has served as an adjunct professor at UTC.

Emily WarrEmily Warr moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee where she obtained her Bachelor's degree in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2013, with a dream to one day start her own candle company. Previous experience in the candle industry came from a privately owned store called the Yucatan Trading Company. This store specialized in Mexican imported rustic exterior and interior design. For five years, Emily gained experience in the home design industry and started college at a local community college in interior design studies. In 2008, the owners switched gears and decided to sell smaller gift items including hand poured candles. Through this, Emily learned alongside experienced small business owners. Not only did she learn the trade of candle making, but also the ups and downs of a startup. This path led her to new aspirations of starting her own business in luxury soy candles, with bigger dreams to expand the brand nationwide.

Collin YoungCollin Young serves as the Client Services Manager for the Bridge Innovate team over the last two years with a primary focus on understanding client's needs and proactively managing communications and coordinating logistics to ensure all projects stay on target. Beyond client services, Collin also supports the Bridge team with process facilitation, knowledge capture, project management, and as a design thinking coach. Collin received a bachelor's degree in business administration with a dual concentration in management and marketing from Berry College. With his background in business, Collin hopes to hone his talents through the integration of design thinking and develop effective management skills for the future. Collin has completed a design thinking certification through ExperiencePoint and IDEO, certification in the "Sprint" methodology by former Google Ventures Jake Knapp and is in the process of finalizing his Project Mnaagement Professional (PMP) certification.

Jonathan BragdonJonathan Bragdon is a Partner at Very and enjoys being a catalyst, coach, problem solver, advisor, investor and connector for early stage entrepreneurs and growth companies. Active in the fast-growing Southeast startup community for more than a decade, Jonathan founded or co-founded six companies in multiple industries and two non-profit organizations. His work has been recognized by CNN, Business Week, Governor of Tennessee, Smithsonian Institution, British Parliament and the Prince of Denmark. However, he claims his best advice originates directly from his "unintentional non-profits". 

To help create and connect business talent regionally, he has served on the boards of the Southeast AeA, CreateHere, the Chattanooga Technology Council, and the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce. He also engages with other local impact organizations including CO.LAB, GigTank, UTC Entrepreneur Forum, Seed Project, Chattanooga Renaissance Fund, LAUNCH Chattanooga and Chattanooga 2.0.

Jonathan holds an MBA from Vanderbilt University and also attended Georgia Tech and Covenant College.

Ryan RussellA six-year veteran of social media and digital strategy, Ryan Russell has extensive experience crafting powerful digital strategies, growing active online communities with engaging digital content, and implementing targeted digital paid search campaigns. With both agency and brand experience, Ryan has guided B2B and B2C brand through all stages of development, from startup to established brands.

Ryan is currently an Adjunct Professor of Digital Marketing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and also works with both agencies and brands to develop and implement their online and offline strategies as founder and President of Ryan Russell Marketing.

Rick HitchcockRick Hitchcock has broad litigation experience, representing clients in a variety of industries on a wide range of issues. He advises and represents clients in environmental matters, business planning, technology issues, transactions, and trial and appellate litigation. He regularly works with startup businesses on formation, governance and financing issues.

Rick has represented clients in significant environmental matters before administrative agencies, regional EPA offices, and state and federal courts. He has successfully handled a number of appellate cases, including a leading case on the lender exception to liability under the federal Superfund law. He has served as special counsel to local governments on contract, franchise, and constitutional issues and represents electric and telecommunications utilities in strategic business planning and operational issues. As counsel to the charter study commission of the City of Chattanooga, he served as a principal drafter of a charter framework that was implemented in 1990. Rick regularly counsels public agencies on public records act issues and has represented clients in key cases defining the scope of the Tennessee Public Records Act.

David PaschallDavid Paschall joined MediTract in 2004 as an entry-level contract specialist. He has since earned numerous promotions over the years, and in late 2015 was named COO/General Manager of MediTract. David has a history of developing people and building high-performing teams, simplifying and solving complex issues, and transforming operations into an organization that truly supports the vision and mission of MediTract. He holds an MBA from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he was inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma National Honor Society. He received a BA in economics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He serves on several boards, including the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, the Creative Discovery Museum (Finance Committee), and the Tennessee Business Roundtable.

John HuismanJohn is a native of Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain. He graduated from Covenant College with a BA in English and History in 1998, and further graduated from UTK in 2004 with a JD. John returned to Chattanooga after graduation in 2004, and practiced law in a wide variety of civil litigation and transactional matters from 2004 to 2014. In 2014, John opened his own law practice, Huisman Law Firm, where he focused on corporate law, transactions, and intellectual property until 2017 when he joined The Bed Boss, a locally owned mattress importer and distributor, as General Counsel and Vice President.



Conference Pitch Judges


Lynn ChesnuttLynn Chesnutt is the Managing Director of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center in Chattanooga covering nine counties in Southern Tennessee. Their mission is to contribute to the growth of the area's economy through consultation, education, referral and support services. Lynn is a native of Cleveland, TN and worked in the banking industry for 32 years. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga as well as an honor graduate of the Southeastern School of Banking  at Vanderbilt University. Lynn has served as a board member of the United Way of Franklin County, Franklin County Chamber of Commerce and South Central Home Builders Association. He also served as an Area Community Advocate for the American Cancer Society. Lynn is a current board member of the Ooltewah/Collegedale Chamber.

Alex LavidgeAlex Lavidge has been guiding and working with startups from prototype to their first $1 million in sales over the past ten years. Currently, Lavidge helps clients mostly across the southern US with design thinking, market research, and business development before matching with investment capital through his agency The Startup Experts. After studying Entrepreneurial Studies at The University of Iowa, he left for Silicon Valley in 2005 to continue developing PayRent LLC, a web-based platform he founded where tenants could pay their rent online and simultaneously increase their FICO score. After returning to East Tennessee in 2008, Fast Company recognized him as a leading example of social innovation in Tennessee for his work with Knoxville Overground, the city's first entrepreneurial community hub and CO.LAB where in 2015 he was the Director of Accelerator Programs for which he was recognized as a Startup Community Leader of the Year during the Chattanooga Startup Awards in 2015. He moved to Chattanooga in 2012 to work with Variable, Inc. as VP Business Development which in 2014 was called by Manufacturing Global as "One of the Top 10 Manufacturing Startups in the World."

Jennifer HarperJennifer Harper is the Founder and Director of Bridge Financial Planning, LLC. She began her career in financial services in 2000. Ms. Harper is a 2001 graduate of the MBA program at UTC and in 2006 earned the Certified Financial Planner designation. She was an adjunct instructor for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga College of Business, teaching Small Business Finance from 2014 through the spring of 2017. Additionally, Ms. Harper is the Founding Director of Common Cents Financial Literacy, Inc., a nonprofit organization founded in 2005. The mission of Common Cents is to promote and encourage financial education.

Jeremy ParvinJeremy Parvin is a graduate of UTC. After getting his degree in Accounting in 1995, he went on to pursue his Master of Accountancy the following year. A CPA and CMA, Parvin has had extensive experience in the finance and accounting world, serving as a Corporate Accountant and Financial Analyst at IBM for 7 years, the Director of Finance at Covista Communications for 1 year, and the Director of IT Vendor Management at Unum Group for 9 years. 

Currently, Parvin owns or manages 25 residential and two commercial properties through Chattanooga Lease Option and Bridge City Properties. He is also a partner and manager at Greater Chattanooga Orthodontics, where he bought two adjoining commercial buildings and proceeded to build the business into one of the largest practices in the area. Greater Chattanooga Orthodontics employs 28 people, including three doctors, and sees over 100 patients a day. By focusing his attention on wise business practices, he has decreased no-show percentage from high-teens to single digits and wait times from over 20 minutes to under 5. He also implements technologies such as auto draft, google docs, and finerprint sign in to keep his practice in the 21st century. Greater Chattanooga Orthodontics has made its impact on the local community, and it was named the best orthodontist in Chattanooga by Times Free Press in September 2017. 

Sharyn MorelandNow retired, Sharyn Moreland was the former Managing Director for the Tennessee Small Business Development Center. She helped provide business counseling and training for new and existing businesses in the 9-county region that the TSBDC covers. Prior to her position at the TSBDC, she served as the Director of Corporate Training for Tech Data Corporations in Clearwater, FL and the First Coast Service Operations in Jacksonville, FL. She holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Education.

Carl ScottCarl Scott is a 2013 graduate of UTC's MBA program. He has worked at Chattem Inc. for 8 years as a Project Engineer. During his stint at Chattem, Carl worked closely with many small businesses and contractors in the local small business scene. He has extensive experience in the way small businesses operate and function, and has dedicated his career to helping them succeed. Carl has also worked for UTC as a Co-Starters (CO.LAB) facilitator during Spring of 2014.

George BrownGeorge Brown is a serial entrepreneur who started his career in 1984 by opening a retail surf shop. He later went on to open a chain of stores pertaining to the outdoor industry. George furthered his experience by joining Adidas America, where he managed sales for the New York Yankees and Dick's Sporting Goods. In 2004, George joined the then startup MediTract, where he became President and retired after a successful recapitalization in 2014. Currently, George lives in Chattanooga with his wife Lisa and is working on his latest startup, Aegle Gear. Aegle Gear focuses on building performance clothing products for healthcare professionals. George has a BS degree in Marketing from Jacksonville University and currently serves on the Executive Board of CO.LAB, Chattanooga's acclaimed accelerator program.

Kathryn MenchettiKathryn Menchetti is a downtown Chattanooga Property Manager with The Simpson Organization, an Atlanta-based company with holdings in 7 southeastern states. Previously she directed the INCubator on the Northshore which is the largest Incubator in the State and 3rd largest in the Nation. In her role as INCubator Director, she helped launch over 260 start ups in the Chattanooga region. Last year businesses housed in the incubator generated over $17.2 million in revenues. Kathryn graduated from Catawba College with a degree in Business Administration and Economics. Kathryn continues to support entrepreneurship and economic development in Chattanooga and Southeast TN.