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KNOXVILLE — Faculty, staff and students who have dreamed of starting their own businesses are invited to attend Vol Court 2010, a series of free how-to seminars led by experts from across the state. Teams that form during the course of the event will compete for a prize package worth more than $20,000 at the last session.

The one-hour seminars will be held on Tuesdays, beginning on Feb. 9. Some of the sessions will be held at the University of Tennessee Research Foundation Technology Business Center, 2450 E.J. Chapman Dr. SW. Others will be held in the Stokely Management Center.

Vol Court is a joint effort of the University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF), the College of Business Administration’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) and the Center for Entrepreneurial Growth (CEG).

“Our goal is to create an entrepreneurial culture on the UT Knoxville campus,” said Tom Graves, CEI director of operations. “Participation in Vol Court is an exceptional opportunity to network and develop skills that also can be applied in competing for the additional $20,000 in prizes to be awarded to winners of the Annual Undergraduate Business Plan Competition this April. I strongly encourage interested competitors to attend.”

Joy Fisher, UTRF director of marketing and business development, said those interested in attending the seminar should include people who’ve got great ideas, but no business know-how, as well as people who have business know-how, but are looking for great ideas.

“This is a perfect way to bring people together to see if they can merge their talents and turn them into businesses,” she said.

The $20,000 prize package for the winning team includes a year’s worth of space and professional mentoring at the business incubator, along with $1,000 in cash and 10 hours of free legal advice, courtesy of Miller & Martin PLLC.

All sessions begin at 5 p.m. Here are the topics of the seminars, presenters and locations:

Feb. 9 — Going Pro (Starting Your Own Business). Identifying your team and committing to the process. Presented by Chuck Witkowski, Will Overstreet and Andrew Dougherty. UTRF Technology Business Center.

Feb. 16 — Generating Product Ideas. Developing and protecting your idea. Presented by Mike Carroll. UTRF Technology Business Center.

Feb. 23 — Knowing Your Fans. Identifying and reaching your customers. Presented by Shawn Carson. UTRF Technology Business Center.

March 2 — What Is Your Game Plan? Developing a business plan. Presented by Lynn Youngs. Stokely Management Center, seventh floor.

March 16 — Building Your Team. Setting up a board of directors or advisory board and finding mentors. Presented by John Morris. Stokely Management Center, seventh floor.

March 23 — Practice the Throw. Learning how to network and pitch your idea. Presented by Dan Ryan. Stokely Management Center, seventh floor.

March 30 — Collecting the Gate. Finding capital and dealing with investors. Presented by Chris Miller. Stokely Management Center, seventh floor.

April 6 — Getting in the Game. Understanding the life of an entrepreneur. Presented by John Jansheski. Stokely Management Center, seventh floor.

April 13 — The Vol Court. The pitch competition. Judged by Roddy Bailey, Grady Vanderhoofven, Doug Speight and Chris Van Beke. Stokely Management Center, seventh floor.

Please check for updates on speakers and locations at

The CEI facilitates entrepreneurial knowledge creation and dissemination through research, teaching and practice in the area of entrepreneurship. It strives to develop entrepreneurial talent who will start businesses or contribute to the success of existing technology-driven businesses. The center provides experiential learning activities that enhance classroom instruction in entrepreneurship and innovation, offers links between the regional entrepreneurial community and the university, and acts as a hub for cross-campus initiatives that foster the growth of entrepreneurial research and commercially viable enterprises. For more information, go to

The Center for Entrepreneurial Growth (CEG), a division of Technology 2020, manages the technology business incubator at UT, as well as other local business incubator facilities. For more information, go to

UTRF helps inventors at UT turn their ideas and discoveries into products and services that benefit society. Its services include evaluation of inventions, funding and managing the patent process, marketing, negotiating license agreements, managing licensee and government compliance issues, registering copyrights or trademarks, Materials Transfer Agreements (MTAs), consulting on intellectual property (IP) provisions in research agreements, collecting and distributing royalties, supporting start-up companies based on UT technology, confidentiality Agreements (CDAs) and presenting educational seminars on intellectual property and start-up issues. UTRF serves all seven of the UT campuses and institutes across the state. For more information, visit

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,