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Jenna Johns pioneers new technology

Jenna Johns is COO of RDI Technologies based in Knoxville.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Each week, WBIR highlights local entrepreneurs and businesses that are “Made for Knoxville” in partnership with the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center.

Jenna Johns’ entrepreneurial spirit started at a young age.

“My sister and I, we used to go make Christmas decorations and we would put them in people’s yards,” said Johns. “Then we’d go up to their doors and charge them for them and say, ‘you know, we’ve already decorated your house for Christmas, this was a great service we provided you, we’ll take $25 for it, thanks.'”

Her business methods have changed since then, but the goal of offering a unique service remains the same she serves as Chief Operating Officer of RDI Technologies in Knoxville.

“RDI Technologies is a company that’s pioneering the camera as a sensor of the future,” said Johns. “So we use cameras to do things that contacting sensors, and you know, equipment used to do on industrial machinery and in plants and manufacturing facilities.”

That technology is used to amplify motion of a machine to see if it’s operating correctly, giving companies the ability to fix small issues before they become big ones.

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Johns has been with RDI from the beginning and is a large part of why the tech company is headquartered in Knoxville.

“There’s so much access to like a large talent pool coming from the university, coming from the lab, and then all the sources around here. That pool of talent is just massive and there’re a lot of people who have subject matter expertise in the industrial market that we were going into. So it made sense to be here,” she said.

That’s the case for different business types, too.

Johns recognizes a lot of perks for starting any new venture in Knoxville, including the spirit of the people here.

“We’ve always been really willing to just kind of jump in and adapt to that change and be a place that fosters that and really pushes for it,” she said.

Johns’ advice to new entrepreneurs is to have a support system. Her parents and husband made all the difference for her.

“Knowing that you have something to fall back on makes it a little bit easier,” she said. “I think that that’s part of the excitement, too. So not knowing how it’s gonna turn out and knowing that success either rests or falls on you.”