Knoxville’s T&T Scientific Continues Its Growth One Year After Startup Day Win

Innov865 Week is a week-long series of events, taking place September 18–21, 2017, to celebrate and showcase Knoxville as a great place for entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses.

We have partnered with the Innov865 Alliance to bring you stories of innovation born in East Tennessee.

It’s been nearly a year since T&T Scientific won $5,000 at the Startup Day pitch competition at the Bijou Theater in Knoxville, Tennessee. At the time of their win, the company itself had only existed for about a year. And until May 2016, the two founders, Graham Taylor and Nima Tamaddoni, were still students finishing up their doctorate work at UT-Knoxville while picking up wins at student pitch competitions.

So, what’s the product that’s been getting these wins in East Tennessee? Liposome technology. “Here at T&T we make cutting edge tools and devices that are used to make new-age nanomedicines and nanoparticles. Our products and solutions bring a breath of fresh air: a modernization of outdated, decades old technology that has been holding back scientists and researchers in our field,” says Dr. Graham Taylor, president and Chief Technology Officer. “Our customers use our products to save time and money, and to be able to focus on their own life-changing work.”

The technology may not necessarily be familiar to all, but for those who are, they are signing up to use it. Their customer list now spans across 35 countries, and the staff has expanded through the hiring of technicians and assembly personnel from the Knoxville area. T&T Scientific has also doubled its facility space for scaling up the production capability, and through a partnership with DeRoyal Industries, T&T Scientific has launched the world’s first fully assembled, sterilized extrusion systems. “We’ve seen tremendous growth and are selling in more countries around the world. Our number of customers has tripled, and recently launched line of automated machines has us on the edge of another sharp climb in annual revenue,” says Taylor.

And according to Taylor, the Startup Day competition win mattered for these milestones to have taken place in the following months. “Aside from the cash prize we benefited greatly from the exposure to investors and experienced entrepreneurs,” says Taylor, a Chatanooga native. “The money was used to help bolster both ongoing production of devices for sale as well as some R&D and patent applications for new products in the pipeline.”

While T&T Scientific is making their way to expanding to other industries by developing and selling more applications, Taylor is thankful that he and Tamaddoni started their entrepreneurial journey while they were students in Knoxville. ”The best decision we made as students was to just go for it! We created the company, pooled what money we could to get started, and soon found pitch competitions as a means of securing additional funding and feedback,” recalls Taylor, who got his Ph.D in biomedical engineering. “UTK is a great place to startup a company due to the wealth of pitch competitions and the entrepreneurial community on campus and in Knoxville.”

For the teams that’ll be pitching at this year’s Startup Day, Taylor provides this advice: “Be confident, have a conversation instead of giving a pitch, and make sure to deliver your message in a way that everyone can appreciate your technology and its impacts.”