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EECS Students Win Boyd Venture Challenge

Three students from the Min H. Kao Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department were winners of the annual Boyd Venture Challenge, hosted by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI) in the Haslam College of Business.

Logan O’Neal, a senior computer science and machine learning major, Braden Hechmer, a junior computer science and machine learning major, and Cody Blankenship, a senior computer science major, received cash prizes for their startup companies.

The Boyd Venture Challenge

The Boyd Venture Challenge offers student entrepreneurs the opportunity to launch successful businesses through mentorship, business development, and seed funding. By presenting their companies in front of a panel of judges, students receive valuable feedback, experience pitching, and the opportunity to win non-dilutive funding for their companies.

Boyd Venture Challenge winners

Laborup, a staffing platform for the industrial sector created by O’Neal and Hechmer, was awarded $15,000. The company aims to better connect skilled trade professionals with more opportunity by managing and automating the entire recruitment process from application to job offer.

“Winning the Boyd Venture Challenge is empowering and will propel us forward on our mission to revolutionize industrial hiring,” O’Neal said. “We are incredibly grateful to know that local business leaders support and believe in Laborup’s vision.”

Flock Analytics, a cloud-based, comprehensive software solution tailored for church analytics founded by Blankenship, was awarded $5,000.

“Winning the Boyd Venture Competition is an exciting culmination of my journey at the University of Tennessee,” says Blankenship. “It signals not just recognition, but also an exciting opportunity to advance our vision for revolutionizing church analytics.”


Rhiannon Potkey (865-974-0683,