Crushed glass furniture wins business plan competition

Knoxville businessman Mark Wassenaar wants to turn broken beer bottles into flooring, countertops and casual furniture.

Wassenaar’s idea may sound unusual but it won this year’s What’s the Big Idea!? Business Plan Competition sponsored by The Development Corporation of Knox County, Knoxville Chamber and Tech 2020.

“We were impressed by all the entrepreneurs who took part in this competition,” Development Corp. Executive Vice President Todd Napier said in a news release. “Virtuous Products shows an enormous amount of promise and the judges indicated they expect big things from the start-up in the years to come.”

Wassenaar’s company, Virtuous Products Inc., has developed a material called Sedonite, which uses crushed glass and “offers the strength and look of resin or cement-based competitors but at a much lower cost,” the announcement says.

The business plan competition started in March and wrapped up Thursday with presentations by three finalists. The other finalists were DineTouch, a start-up that allows restaurant patrons to order food directly from their smartphone; and LineShark, a start-up that provides professional audio input and output to any mobile device.

“I’ve been in manufacturing my whole life. I try to get out but it just keeps coming back because there is so much creativity involved. I literally lie awake at night thinking of new ideas,” Wassenaar said in a statement.

Wassenaar’s winning prize package includes:

– $10,000 grant for start-up costs

– $15,000 potential equity investment by Tech 20/20 Venture Startup Fund

– One-year’s rent at the Fairview Technology Center

– Accounting services provided by Rodefer Moss & Company

– Business coaching provided by CEO Advisors

– IT Hosting and Services by the IT Company and Digital Crossing Networks

– Legal Services by Kathleen Zitzman

– Chamber membership by the Knoxville Chamber

– Business coaching by Tech 20/20