Wedding bells ring in idea for new business [The Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn. :: ]
(Knoxville News-Sentinel (TN) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) May 06--The thought of a summer of wedding bells set off a light bulb in the mind of University of Tennessee senior Dave Seeman, and a business idea was born.
Seeman, along with Maryville software developer David Furman, are founders of Willow List, an online wedding gift registry business that allows family and friends of engaged couples to use crowd-funding to buy items for the couple.
Their company was picked in April as the first-place winner in the Vol Court pitch competition, administered by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at UT's College of Business Administration.
This comes with a $1,000 prize, space in the UT Research Foundation's business incubator, consulting services from Pershing Yoakley and Associates, legal services from Morehous Legal Group PLLC and mentoring from the Anderson Center.
The second-place winner was Christopher Saah, UT junior in mechanical engineering, who founded MyPTshop.com, a web application that allows users to start and manage an e-commerce fitness shop.
Saah received $500, plus the same assistance and mentoring as the owners of Willow List.
Willow List started months ago when Seeman, a senior in mechanical engineering, was visiting some friends and the talk turned to all the weddings that were pending.
"I've gotten engaged and lots of my friends happen to be engaged right now. We are going to a total of seven weddings in the next six weeks," Seeman said recently.
His friends, one of the couples planning to marry, had signed up for a wedding registry and found it to be a bit overwhelming.
"They are really big coffee fans, so they wanted to get an espresso machine, but the espresso machine is about $600," Seeman said.
The couple nixed the idea of putting something that expensive on their list, but it got Seeman thinking. He had been reading about Kickstarter, the website that allows people to crowd-fund creative projects.
"So that was the light bulb moment where I thought wouldn't it be cool if your registry was its own little Kickstarter campaign," he said.
So, Seeman developed Willow List, which allows people to set up wedding registries and their friends and family to make contributions to the items on that list.
He launched the website April 28.
The Vol Court program is open to UT students and faculty plus the general public, said Tom Graves, faculty member with the Anderson Center. It consists of a series of seminars culminating in a competition in which participants can pitch business ideas.
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