portfolio company mentors

The Fund recognizes the critical role mentors play in the success of entrepreneurs and young companies. The partners prioritize mentorship as one of the ways TennesSeed adds value to portfolio companies. The following individuals are TennesSeed Fund portfolio company mentors:

Brandon Bruce

Brandon is Co-founder and CEO of Uncat – a web app used by accountants and bookkeepers to fix pesky uncategorized transactions with their clients and sync with QuickBooks Online. Brandon was previously Co-founder and COO of Cirrus Insight which was #41 on the Inc. 500 in 2016. He is the chair of the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, entrepreneur in residence at Webb School, co-founder of the Knoxville Technology Council, chair of Junior Achievement of East Tennessee, chair of Muse Knoxville, co-founder of Startup Knox, founder of 100Knoxville, and board member at UT Research Park, American Museum of Science and Energy, and Leadership Knoxville.

Bill Malkes

Bill Malkes is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO of NellOne Therapeutics.  Bill has founded multiple companies across diverse product lines, successfully building and leading multiple engineering, sales, marketing, finance, and operations teams from concept to scale.  Malkes created and led companies that have generated four successful exists, including the sale of GRIDSMART Technologies, Inc., where Malkes was the CEO to Cubic Corporation. Other exits from Malkes led start-up included mergers with Flextronics and Sirit Technologies. Malkes’ companies have raised over $150 million in risk capital.

Bill graduated Summa cum laude from the University of Detroit-Mercy and advises a variety of companies at different levels.

Behind being a Christian father and husband, Bill is most satisfied in creating over 1,000 full-time fair paying jobs in his career through founding companies and deploying risk capital in non-traditional regions for venture capital.

Chad Seaver

Chad Seaver is a medtech executive and entrepreneur with over twenty years' experience commercializing medical device and biotech breakthroughs. He was most recently co-founder and CEO of Arkis BioSciences, a neurosurgical device company. Dr. Seaver led commercialization of the company's groundbreaking Endexo(r) catheter technology and minimally invasive guidewire instrumentation advancing hydrocephalus shunt treatments. Arkis BioSciences was acquired by Integra LifeSciences in July, 2019.

Dr. Seaver previously held various senior management positions over the course of eight years with Siemens Healthcare. He most prominently led development and commercialization of the company's first time-of-flight positron emission tomography (PET) scanner, introduced as the Biograph mCT at the 2008 EANM. He further garnered corporate funding to create and lead a new R&D department developing mixed-signal integrated circuits forming the foundation for the world's now fastest time-of-flight PET scanner, marketed as the Biograph Vision.

Dr. Seaver is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, where he earned a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering and a Master's and Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering. He is a licensed Professional Engineer, an elected Senior Member of the IEEE, and an inducted member of Phi Kappa Phi and Tau Beta Pi.

vig sherrill

James Vig Sherrill, a long-time Knoxville-Oak Ridge entrepreneur, has led a number of successful technology companies in East Tennessee over the past 35 years. Most recently, he is serving as President and CEO of General Graphene, his sixth start-up. He also co-founded GridSmart, which was recently acquired by Cubic Corporation; ASIC International, which was acquired by Flextronics; Trade Winds, which was acquired by Sirit and Audio Animation which went public. 

Vig has raised more than $50 million in venture capital for his startups, which produced more than $150 million in direct revenue in East Tennessee. 

Vig earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Rutgers University, with a focus on silicon design and digital signal processing.