A look at some innovative tech companies in Knoxville

Some of East Tennessee’s biggest stakeholders, from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, have a lot riding on the tech industry. 

We all do. Tech occupations are projected to grow 13% from 2020 to 2030, which is the fastest average among all other occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Techstars’ Industries of the Future accelerator brought some innovative technology companies to Knoxville, but many growing tech companies already call Knoxville and East Tennessee home. Here are a few you should know. 

More:From smartphone skin care to hacker trackers, the Techstars startups could change our world

More:Has the Techstars startup accelerator impacted Knoxville’s economy as investors hoped?


Heath Wilson, a University of Tennessee at Knoxville alumnus from Johnson City, is an entrepreneur, father and mentor to young entrepreneurs. That also means he’s on his phone like green on grass. 

Wanting to spend less time with his phone and more time with his family, while also setting an example for his middle school-aged children, he began working on a solution.

He cut a hole in a shoe box, stuck some charging cables inside and designated it as the place phones go when they weren’t being used. After years of designing and planning, Aro was born. 

Aro was founded by Johnson City native and University of Tennessee at Knoxville alumnus Heath Wilson. The device automatically tracks time away from your phone while charging it.

Aro is a box for families to place their devices in while not using them. As soon as the devices are in, their time spent inside is tracked and logged. The box also charges the devices. 

Wilson said he played around with ideas for an app to track time away from a device, but ultimately decided that “you can’t put the solution to this problem inside of the problem.” He also didn’t want a heavy-handed solution that forced you to lock up your phone all day. 

Nicole Lewis

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