Startup Funding Awarded to UT Students During the Spring 2024 Vol Court

February 27, 2024

A customized golf putter, a seven-piece brass band and a drone cleaning service were the winners at the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s (ACEI’s) spring 2024 Vol Court.

Vol Court is a four-week entrepreneurial speaker series that culminates in a 90-second business idea pitch competition. The ACEI, part of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Haslam College of Business, hosts the event each semester. Participating students put what they learn in the speaker series into practice by pitching their business ideas to a panel of successful entrepreneurs for a chance to win up to $1,500.

“The concepts and companies that were presented at Vol Court were incredibly diverse and creative. From fintech and mechanical engineering to art, music and food, we heard pitches representing a wide array of ideas, showcasing the breadth of passion and skills of the students at [UT],” says Breanna Hale, executive director of the ACEI. “I was incredibly impressed and proud of our students and can’t wait to see these ventures continue to develop with the support of the Anderson Center and our dedicated community.”

Vol Court Pitch Competition Winners

The team of judges awarded T Squared Putters the first-place prize of $1,500, The Bobby Band the second-place prize of $1,000 and Sky Clean the third-place prize of $500. 

T Squared Putters, founded by Tony Tuber, a senior marketing major and leadership studies minor from Buffalo, New York, was awarded first place at Vol Court. T Squared Putters crafts premium putters with unparalleled precision and customization options, empowering golfers to elevate their game with confidence.

“Winning Vol Court feels great,” says Tuber. “I cannot be more thankful to the university and the Anderson Center for giving us these opportunities to pitch our ideas and see them become a reality.”

Second place was awarded to The Bobby Band, formed by Robert Troutman, a senior music business major and premedical track student from Lenoir City, Tennessee. The Bobby Band is a seven-piece brass band based in Knoxville that aims to bring brass back into modern music. After gaining popularity playing in many local venues, The Bobby Band is looking to grow and secure bigger venues. 

“This Vol Court win means the world to me and The Bobby Band,” Troutman says. “This win provides us funding to record and take our music to the next level.”

Sky Clean, an innovative drone soft washing service that specializes in cleaning commercial surfaces like buildings, roofs and solar panels, was awarded third place. The venture’s founder is Camden Shuman, a junior mechanical engineering major from Asheville, North Carolina.

“What makes Vol Court incredible is that it celebrates the sharing of ideas and the entrepreneurial spirit,” says Shuman. “It is such a pleasure to be involved in this community here at the University of Tennessee!”

Vol Court’s Speaker Series Featured Successful Knoxville Entrepreneurs

Vol Court’s speaker series kicked off the first session with J Retiner (UT, ’03), CEO of BioPet. From difficulties making the first sale to early rejections by other businesses, Retinger had to keep the long-term picture in mind, and it paid off. He helped grow BioPet to a successful business that uses cutting-edge science and education to provide animal DNA testing.

Session two of Vol Court featured Angelique Adams, CEO of Angelique Adams Media Solutions. Students learned about her 25 years of experience in operations, strategy and innovation and how she’s applying this experience to her business that provides leadership coaching and training consultancy for scientists and engineers.

The final speaker in the Vol Court series was Cortney Piper (UT, ’03), president of Piper Communications. Her business provides strategic public relations services for clients in the clean energy and technology sectors. From utilizing professional networks to finding a passion, students learned about Piper’s journey from UT swimmer to political contributor to founder of her own company.

The ACEI thanks the Scott and Dianna Roe Foundation for their continued support of Vol Court and the student participants.

About the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation 

The Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is a university-based resource for entrepreneurship across the region and the state of Tennessee. Its mission is to foster an entrepreneurial culture at UT and across the state by developing student skills, providing experiential learning opportunities, conducting meaningful entrepreneurial research and connecting students with mentors and resources that enable them to successfully start and grow new businesses.



Brennan Hullett,