A smart lock with increased security technology won the top prize at this semester’s Vol Court Pitch Competition. Erica Grant, a UT graduate student from Richmond, Virginia, pitched Quantum Lock in the semiannual competition and speaker series hosted by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in UT’s Haslam College of Business.
Grant designed Quantum Lock to increase smart lock security by utilizing a fundamental property of light.
“Many people are upgrading to smart locks because they offer the convenience of unlocking the door with a smartphone app and the illusion of high-tech security. Unfortunately, smart locks can be less secure than traditional locks,” said Grant, a doctoral candidate studying quantum computing in the UT-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education.
Grant’s first-place prize includes $1,500 from Red Stag Fulfillment, office space in the UT Research Foundation Business Incubator, consulting services courtesy of PYA, legal advice from Morehous Legal Group, design services from Innovative Design Inc., and web design services from Make Me Modern.
Second-place winner Camille Dillard pitched Dreams by Dillard Weddings & Events LLC, a Tennessee-based event planning company.
“We aim to ease the stress that comes along with the event planning process and create the event of our clients’ dreams,” said Dillard. “As I expand my business, I plan to offer more services and explore product development.”
Dillard, a senior marketing major from Memphis, received $1,000, office space in the UTRF Business Incubator, legal advice from Morehous Legal Group, and design services from Innovative Design Inc.
Third place was awarded to RentWorx, a business idea by Thomas Jolley. RentWorx plans to simplify equipment leasing by connecting equipment owners with businesses interested in leasing equipment.
“RentWorx takes care of the logistics behind the scenes, so the owner of the equipment can sit back and collect a payment,” said Jolley, a freshman economics major from Kingsport, Tennessee.
“Vol Court gave me the opportunity to test my idea with business leaders in the community,” said Jolley. “The feedback that I received from them was so valuable and will truly help me in my future endeavors.”
Jolley received $500, legal advice from Morehous Legal Group, and design services from Innovative Design Inc.
“I am impressed by the high quality of the pitches this semester,” said Shawn Carson, Vol Court director. “We continue to see participants grow their ideas into real businesses as they advance through the Vol Court series.”
The Vol Court Pitch Competition was the final event of the fall 2018 Vol Court Speaker Series. Leading up to the competition, participants attended five lectures covering entrepreneurship topics like customer discovery and legal structure for businesses.
Vol Court is a free event hosted by the Anderson Center each fall and spring semester. It is open to UT students, faculty, and staff as well as members of the local community. Partners for the fall competition include Red Stag Fulfillment, the UT Research Foundation, PYA, Morehous Legal Group, Three Roots Capital, Innovative Design Inc., and Make Me Modern.
Carrie McCamey (865-974-9964, email@example.com)