Variable, Inc., the Chattanooga-based creator of the NODE wireless sensor for iPhones, was named Most Innovative Startup Sunday at the first annual Southland conference here, winning a $10,000 award from presenting sponsor Nissan. A Launch Tennessee event, the Southland conference attracted a capacity crowd of more than 650 entrepreneurs and investors on June 12-13 to share ideas and opportunities.
Also awarded was Fuelzee, creator of an iPhone app that helps drivers find cheap gasoline and earn points for free merchandise at gas stations. The Orlando-based company won $5,000 and was named the top startup in Southland Village, the trade show portion of the conference.
“Variable, Inc. most impressed the investors who heard pitches from some of the Southeast’s most innovative startups over the last two days, and Fuelzee was one of two companies that garnered the highest ratings from attendees at Southland Village,” said Launch Tennessee CEO Charlie Brock. “We hope the inaugural Southland conference was a success for all of the companies that attended as they got to network and hear from some of the most influential investors and tech thought leaders throughout the country.”
George Yu, CEO of Variable, Inc. and inventor of the NODE, said he got the idea for the device while creating a chemical gas sensor for NASA several years ago. He credits CO.LAB, Chattanooga’s startup accelerator, for helping him envision commercial applications for his invention. Today the iPhone-based sensor has apps that allow it to measure temperature, color, pressure, humidity and other variables. Eight apps are on the market today and Yu expects more to be developed by outside developers. He has received interest in NODE from Apple, Intel, Google and Nokia.
Other finalists for Southland’s “Most Innovative Startup” were:
Yellow Jacket, a Baton Rouge, La., company that has created an iPhone case that contains a 650,000-volt stun gun.
VIPAAR from Birmingham, Ala., which has created technology that allows experts to interactively guide or train others from thousands of miles away.
World Housing Solution from Orlando, Fla., which has developed modular housing that can be easily and economically set up and taken down.
Launch Tennessee is a public-private partnership focused on supporting the development of high-growth companies in the state of Tennessee with the ultimate goal of fostering job creation and economic growth. It focuses on four key areas: entrepreneurship, commercialization, capital and outreach. Launch Tennessee is in part funded by a grant from the State of Tennessee. Find Launch Tennessee on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/LaunchTN), Twitter (www.Twitter.com/LaunchTN), YouTube (www.YouTube.com/LaunchTN) and Flickr (www.Flickr.com/LaunchTN).
For more information on Southland, please visit www.southlandse.com