Skip to main content

KNOXVILLE—The lack of a favorite comfort food found only in their hometown spurred the launch of a new product idea by two University of Tennessee, Knoxville, sophomores that took top honors at this semester’s Vol Court pitch competition.

Jake Rheude and Cedric Brown won $1,000 to invest in SummerSett Foods, a company that is creating and packaging a buffalo chicken dip for distribution nationwide. A $500 second-place prize was awarded to Christopher Bowland, a senior majoring in materials science engineering, who is developing a convenient way for students living off-campus to recycle their plastics, metals, and paper.

“Our business idea came as a result of our background with food products unique to our hometown in Ohio and our seeing a need for similar products while living in Knoxville,” Rheude said. “Since June, we have been working with several other companies and people within the culinary industry to put a product on shelves. The money raised at the Vol Court competition will help us cover the costs of setting up our business.”

Bowland, who took second place, said Vol Court helped him take his business idea to the next step.

“It is one thing to have an idea for a business, but figuring out how to make it a reality is the hard part,” he said. “Vol Court’s series of presentations and networking opportunities were invaluable. The program gave me the encouragement and push forward that I needed to finally present my idea.”

Vol Court is a speaker series and pitch competition presented by UT’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and is sponsored by UT Federal Credit Union. The program’s goal is to help people develop new business ideas, and it provides a forum for people with different skill sets to connect and potentially form new businesses.

Speakers include entrepreneurs and investors who address how they overcame entrepreneurial challenges, what they would have done differently, how to identify a customer need, how to make money, and how to pitch the idea to potential investors.

The next series begins January 31, 2012. More information is available at

C O N T A C T S:

Joy Fisher (865-974-0520,

Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,