Thanks to generous sponsors, Venture Connectors has increased the prize for our eighth annual Venture Sharks™ business competition to more than $37,000 in cash and services, topping last year’s prize of $23,000. In addition, a new Audience Participation Crowdfunding Campaign will award a separate prize to a company chosen by the audience via a text message vote during the Venture Sharks finals. You can donate online or in person at upcoming Venture Connectors events. Early-stage startups and entrepreneurs in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee are invited to submit applications before midnight on March 22. Donate here or apply here.
Ever wanted to go behind the scenes of Louisville restaurants? Venture Connectors did just that at our March 8 luncheon with an exciting panel of local restaurateurs. Moderated by food writer Steve Coomes, the panel featured prominent restaurant owners Fernando Martinez, Susan Hershberg and Chad Coulter, who discussed the restaurant landscape both in Louisville and nationally. They shared successes in the marketplace as well as challenges in a competitive culinary city and what the future holds for independent restaurants. The panelists also offered thoughts on current threats facing restaurant operators and insights into what makes them and their restaurants tick.
Applications for our eighth annual Venture Sharks business competition will open Monday, Feb. 6! Early-stage companies and entrepreneurs are invited to compete for a $15,000 prize — roughly $5,000 in cash and $10,000 in professional services — provided by the competition’s sponsors. Sponsorship commitments received to date include Commonwealth Seed Capital, University of Louisville College of Business, Mightily and Nucleus. The prize package may increase as additional sponsors commit.
At the Venture Connectors Feb. 1 lunch, Laurie Daugherty, executive director of the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs (GSE), discussed how her organization prepares Kentucky high school students to be successful entrepreneurs by exposing them to the tools and skills necessary to start a company. She shared how the accelerator-style program offers teens opportunities to gain high school credit, scholarships and build a company from the ground up.
During our first lunch of the new year, Jackson Andrews, managing director of Endeavor Louisville, spoke about the Endeavor network and how the organization supports and grows entrepreneurial communities worldwide.
Founded in 1997, Endeavor works to fuel long-term economic growth in cities across the globe by selecting, mentoring and accelerating the best high-impact entrepreneurs. In 2015, Endeavor entrepreneur-led companies collectively generated $8.2 billion in revenue and have created over 600,000 jobs.
On Wednesday, Dec. 7, Venture Connectors featured an exciting panel of City Collaborative board members, who discussed the importance of community engagement and innovation. They provided a brief history of its ReSurfaced program and shared future plans for the initiative.
Panelists included Dave Durand, co-founder of City Collaborative and CEO of Forest Giant; Rebecca Matheny, executive director of the Louisville Downtown Partnership; and Patrick Piuma, co-founder and director of City Collaborative, director of the Urban Design Studio at the University of Louisville, and planning director for Louisville Downtown Partnership.
At our November lunch, Colleen Clines, co-founder and CEO of Anchal Project, shared how the organization addresses the exploitation of women around the world by using design thinking to create employment opportunities, products and services that support economic empowerment.
Design thinking is a method for practical, creative problem-solving that starts with an end goal, unlike the scientific method, which begins by thoroughly defining the parameters of a problem to create a solution.
Are you building your business today as if you plan to sell it tomorrow? At Venture Connectors' Oct. 5 luncheon, Chuck Patton, co-founder of Louisville-based Traffic Builders Inc., shared how he successfully positioned his communications firm for acquisition by Houston-based direct marketing company GS Marketing Inc. in August 2015.
Patton discussed how he boosted the value of Traffic Builders’ intellectual property, despite declining sales, to make it an attractive acquisition. GS Marketing is a single resource for high-impact lead generation campaigns, one-to-one communications and results-driven loyalty/retention programs. As a preferred vendor for Toyota Motor Sales, GS Marketing specializes in marketing solutions for Toyota and Scion dealerships across the country.
On Wednesday, Sept. 7, Venture Connectors featured Theo Edmonds, co-founder of the Louisville-based innovation company and cultural think tank IDEAS xLab, who shared how he and his team use a cultural production framework to impact the health and economic vitality of communities both locally and on a global scale.
Years of experience and research have led the team at IDEAS xLab to spearhead national and international investments in health equity and other innovative programming right here in Louisville. The financial impact of health equity is profound, from the cost of health care to the opportunities that abound in creating businesses to support it.
On Aug. 3 Venture Connectors hosted Ned Schwartz, partner in Columbus, Ohio-based Drive Capital, a private investment firm that partners with Midwest entrepreneurs in building long-term, sustainable businesses. He discussed why Drive Capital believes the Midwest region is the best place in the world to build a business and how entrepreneurs can launch a great company right here.