When QuickSod, Inc., won the $30,000 grand prize during UT Research Foundation’s TN Venture Challenge in 2014, the company’s team lead, Dr. John Sorochan, was overwhelmed at the support shown to new business ventures within East Tennessee.
“Winning the Venture Challenge was a tremendous honor,” he said. “It’s amazing to see the support that is provided from UT Research Foundation (UTRF) and individuals and companies.”
Dr. Sorochan, Distinguished Professor in Turfgrass Science and Co-Director for the Center for Athletic Field Safety at UT, founded QuickSod with the purpose of producing soilless sod that is lightweight and harvestable in a fraction of the time it takes to produce conventional sod.
QuickSod’s method produces sod in a short two to four-month timeframe as compared to conventional methods of 12-18 months.
Through QuickSod, Dr. Sorochan has also shown under outdoor conditions that harvestable sod can be produced in just under six weeks. QuickSod continues with R&D efforts to optimize production, bringing the cost down per acre.
The company is hopeful for large scale demonstration in 2016. Dr. Sorochan has identified and partnered with key entities that can help market his product in bulk quantities to farms across Tennessee.
Although QuickSod’s spent the past two years experiencing success, Dr. Sorochan has some advice for 2016 Venture Challenge pitchers.
“We were fortunate to have the support of UTRF and the business community to help us grow in the beginning because starting a company can be very challenging,” he said. “When you demonstrate a product on a small scale you don’t see all the challenges that can be associated with scaling up to full production. Having the right team is very important; it keeps the company going and enables you to find solutions.”John Sorochan, QuickSod