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(Knoxville, Tenn) – More than 500 of East Tennessee’s leading investors, innovators, entrepreneurs and business leaders convened at the U.S. Cellular Stage at The Bijou Theatre in Downtown Knoxville on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 2015 for the annual Startup Day, now in its third year and the area’s biggest event that recognizes entrepreneurship.

Bryan Crosby, FunLPro Technology LLC, was awarded the $5,000 cash prize from sponsor BOBA (Business Owners Benefits Association). Crosby was one of seven startups in competition for the prize.

Bryan Crosby is the co-founder and CEO of FunLPro Technology LLC, which produces a patented closure system for fluid containers that provides a lengthy, extendible, and directional pouring spout within the closure system itself. FunLPro eliminates the need to purchase, store, and reuse separate pouring devices such as traditional funnels that allow spills and contaminants to be present in the transfer process.

Harvey Abouelata, ARiES Energy founder and Startup Day 2013 alum, received the first ever Traction Award, sponsored by UT Federal Credit Union. The Traction Award was given to a Startup alum who has gained the most momentum in the past three years. ARiES Energy is an alternative energy solutions company launched in 2011.

One of the largest Series A funding investments in the Southeast region was announced during the event by Eric Dobson, Chief Executive Officer of Angel Capital Group. General Graphene, led by serial entrepreneur Vig Sherrill, is the recipient of the investment from Angel Capital Group, a national syndicate of angel groups and funds. General Graphene, introduced by Sherrill during a Startup Day 2014 Power Pitch, makes graphene, one of the most expensive substances on earth, affordable for material innovators throughout the world. At only one atom thick, graphene is harder than a diamond; 200 times stronger than steel; 1,000 times the current carrying capacity and 20 times more thermally conductive than copper; impermeable to all substances known; inert in the human body; anti-microbial; corrosion resistant; flexible and almost transparent.

“What a banner day this was for the Knoxville entrepreneur community,” said Stacey Patterson, University of Tennessee Research Foundation Vice President and Startup Day Steering Committee member.
The University of Tennessee Research Foundation is a presenting sponsor of the event. “This was the largest Startup Day event in our history and shows the power of the entrepreneur and innovator spirit in Knoxville. Congratulations to the winners and to the startup pitchers; all are to be commended for their exemplary work. We’re also fortunate to be the place where such a significant investment announcement was made and look forward to seeing all the good things that General Graphene will do for the world.”

Startup Day 2015 also brought international entrepreneur and Chief Executive Officer of Alchemists Collective, Angel Gambino to Knoxville. Angel Gambino has founded and developed digital media companies that floated on the stock market and sold in high profile trade sales including the $850 million AOL TimeWarner acquisition of bebo. She is a native of Detroit who moved back to her hometown from London to join others committed to reigniting economic growth in her hometown. Her Startup Day message focused on how an entrepreneurial spirit and passion can reignite cities like Knoxville.

Additional activities included fireside chats with some of the area’s most successful investors and entrepreneurs representing Angel Capital Group, Meritus Ventures, The JumpFund, TennEra, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
About Startup Day Several organizations that share in the mission of promoting new ideas and businesses, host Startup Day, an annual event that showcases Knoxville as a destination for startups and entrepreneurs. The event is hosted by: The University of Tennessee Research Foundation, Oak Ridge National Lab, Launch Tennessee, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, Tech 2020, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, and The Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. (article courtesy of