Knoxville and East Tennessee have a rich tradition in entrepreneurship and successful Startup companies that include Pilot Corporation, Regal Cinemas, The Regas Family Restaurants, Scripps; and more recently, Bandit Lites, Radio Systems, CTI and ProVision. The list is much longer and all these companies started and grew right here.
Startup Day is a showcase of the next generation of entrepreneurs in our community. The Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, along with support from Tech 20/20 and LaunchTN, has conducted a series of programs over the year to nurture, encourage and support several young companies. In the meantime, these CEO’s have tested their business models in the real world and are now ready to raise the necessary capital and launch their businesses. Now it’s time to introduce them to the community and let everyone know who they are and what they are up to.
To do that, we have organized an event that brings together local entrepreneurs with local artistic talent in a great new local venue with local food. It’s truly a party to celebrate “growing our own” future.
Michael Strickland will kick us off with his story of how Bandit Lites got started when he was in high school, followed by 5-minute rapid-fire pitches by the CEO’s of 16 new Startups. In between, we have breaks with local musicians sharing their talents and we will end up with great food and a concert by the Coveralls.
And you’ll be home in time for your favorite TV shows.
Startup Day is open to everyone! If you care about the economic growth and future of our community, please come and meet these fine new CEO’s and show your support!
Michael T. Strickland grew up in Kingsport, Tennessee in the late 50’s and 60’s. He was one of three children of Thomas and Marion Strickland. His father was a research chemist at Eastman Kodak and his mother was a teacher in the Kingsport city schools. He shared a great life with his sister Susan and his brother Steven. Along the way Michael played football and basketball, was an Eagle Scout, was twice president of his Junior Achievement companies and was an avid church member. Michael attended city schools in Kingsport and graduated from Dobyns Bennett High School in 1973. In 1968 at age 12 while in junior high school Michael started what would become his life long passion and his company, Bandit Lites. Michael moved the firm to Knoxville when he began to attend college at the University of Tennessee. Michael obtained a Bachelor of Science in Business from the University of Tennessee and then attended the University of Tennessee Law School. The company continued throughout college and has existed ever since under Michael’s guidance and ownership.
In 1999 CNN USA Today named Michael as Entrepreneur of the Year. This came on the heels of Mass Mutual awarding Bandit The Blue Chip Award as one of America’s top companies. Over the years Bandit Lites has won numerous Lighting Company of the Year Awards from the many different organizations that bestow such awards. Through the many years artists such as Garth Brooks, The Monkees, Alice Cooper, WWE, Lord of The Dance, Jimmy Buffett, ZZ Top, Van Halen, Alan Jackson, Pink, Carrie Underwood, Queen, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Neil Young and hundreds of others have worked with Michael and Bandit for all of their lighting needs.
Bandit Lites now has offices globally in Knoxville, Nashville, San Francisco, London, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bandit services the entertainment industry from these locations and is known globally as the Rolls Royce of entertainment lighting. Bandit has over 300 full time employees and 200 part time employees.
Startup Day is a different kind of event.
At Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, we’re looking for the dreamers and the risk takers, the visionaries and the artists, the community connectors and the make-it-happen people. Knoxville needs people like you in order to grow, thrive and be an even better place to live. We want you to succeed.
Knoxville Entrepreneur Center connects people like you with mentors and the resources to start your business.
What is that next business that Knoxville doesn’t even know it needs? You envision it; we will help you achieve it.
The best day of your life is the day you decide to own it.
Recognized as one of the top incubators in the world, Tech 20/20 has strived, for almost two decades, to lead a program that impacts the companies we work with, as well as for our region. Historically Tech 20/20 has assisted more than 214 companies, creating more than 1980 jobs with an average salary of $64,861 and having a payroll impact of $128,424,780. That’s a total economic impact of over $260 million.
Tech 20/20 is an engine for startup companies in the region. We measure our success by the companies we have helped. To celebrate the accomplishments of those companies we created the Million Dollar Club. Each company inducted into the club has reached the milestone of at least one million dollars in capital raised, annual revenue or company exit. Through the assistance of at least one Tech 20/20 program, more than 35 companies have been recognized as achieving this high level of success.
Tech 20/20 is headquartered in Oak Ridge, TN and chartered as a non-profit public benefit corporation in 1995 and has been engaged in educational and entrepreneurial activities to stimulate economic growth throughout Tennessee and the multi-state Appalachian corridor.
“LaunchTN is another piece in our plan to make Tennessee the no. 1 location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs. This initiative will help set Tennessee apart as a state where entrepreneurship and innovation are valued as key economic development tools in our effort to make our state even more business-friendly.” – Governor Bill Haslam
Entrepreneurs and startup companies create over 65 percent of all new jobs, according to the Kauffman Foundation. LaunchTN supports local entrepreneurs by focusing on four key areas: