Skip to main content
Shawn Carson, Vol Court director.
Shawn Carson, Vol Court director.

Bring an idea and start a business with the help of Vol Court, a semiannual pitch competition and speaker series hosted by UT’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Vol Court kicks off October 12 with a six-week entrepreneurial speaker series. The series culminates November 16 in a pitch competition where attendees put what they’ve learned into practice. Local entrepreneurs and UT faculty will cover topics including legal structure for businesses and unconventional funding sources.

Now in its eighth year, Vol Court invites UT students, faculty, staff, and members of the local community to pitch their business ideas. Winners receive up to $1,500 in prize money, space in the UT Research Foundation Business Incubator, and legal and accounting services.

Shawn Carson, Vol Court director, will share his expertise from 15 years in entrepreneurship.

“Having been involved with Vol Court as a contributor over the years, I am excited about helping run the program,” said Carson. “It is a great opportunity for students across campus to get their first exposure to the world of entrepreneurship. The fact that there’s a cash prize doesn’t hurt, either.”

Vol Court has grown in recent years to include more speakers, sponsors, participants, and prizes. All pitch competition participants are eligible for cash prizes awarded to first-, second-, and third-place winners.

Vol Court meets every Wednesday beginning October 12 from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. in Room 104 of Haslam Business Building, 1000 Volunteer Blvd. The speaker series and pitch competition are open to the public. There is no charge to participate in the event, and anyone interested in starting a company is encouraged to attend.

Anyone who participates in the November 16 pitch competition must have attended four of the following five series meetings.

October 12: Business Model Canvas

October 19: Legal Structure for Your Business

October: An Entrepreneur’s Journey

November 2: Unconventional Funding Sources

November 9: Pitching the Concept

November 16: Pitch Competition

Vol Court is made possible by donated funds and services from sponsors, which include Cirrus Insight, PYA, Morehous Legal Group, Hard Knox Pizzeria, the IT Company, Funding Sage, 3 Roots Capital, and the UT Research Foundation.


Carrie McCamey (865-974-5126,

Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,