UT’s Vol Court Speaker Series and Pitch Competition Kicks Off Sept. 2

August 25, 2020

UT students, faculty and staff, as well as members of the local community, are encouraged to pitch their business ideas at Vol Court, beginning September 2. The semi-annual pitch competition and speaker series is presented by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Winners may receive up to $1,500 in prize money and space in the UT Research Foundation Business Incubator along with legal and accounting services and other prizes.

This fall, the workshop sessions will be held virtually via Zoom. The pitch competition is scheduled to be held in Room 169 of the UT Student Union for a limited number of people, and will be broadcast on a Zoom webinar open to the public. Anyone interested in entrepreneurship is invited to watch online.

Designed to introduce participants to entrepreneurship, series topics provide a starting point to help advance business ideas into reality. Here is the list of topics and speakers:

  • September 2, Opportunities in a Time of Crisis (Bailey Foster, founder of Real Good Kitchen)

  • September 9, Growing Your Startup – What Happens When Chaos Ensues (Tommy Nguyen, CEO of Storage Pug)

  • September 16, Company Culture in a Startup (Chris McAdoo, local entrepreneur)

  • September 23, Making the Pitch, 9 in 90 (Shawn Carson, lecturer, Haslam College of Business, UT)

  • September 30, Vol Court pitch night

“Recent events have given us the opportunity to embrace new ways of sharing ideas and telling stories,” Vol Court Director Shawn Carson said. “Vol Court will be a bit different this fall, and I believe it will be just as exciting, innovative and entertaining as ever.”

The program culminates on September 30 in a pitch competition where attendees put what they’ve learned into practice. All pitch competition participants are eligible for cash prizes awarded to first-, second- and third-place winners. This year will introduce a new aspect to the pitch format. Modeling the popular Pecha Kucha public speaking events, Vol Court will follow a “9 in 90” format where participants have 9 slides and 90 seconds to tell their stories.

Vol Court will meet from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. every Wednesday from September 2 through September 30. All sessions will be held on Zoom.

“We have one more exciting bit of news regarding Vol Court,” Carson said. “We have been blessed with generous financial support from the Scott and Di Roe Foundation, which will sustain Vol Court into the future. We are truly grateful to them and we are excited to tell more of that story in the near future.”

Vol Court offers many thanks for the continuing support of its in-kind partners: the UT Research FoundationPYAMorehous Legal Group3 Roots Capital and Innovative Design, Inc.


Laura Rust, acei@utk.edu, 865-974-5126