On Jan. 7, Venture Connectors will host Graham Baughman, CEO of WhiteBox Learning, a pioneer in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. America is producing fewer STEM-trained graduates than ever before. Baughman will discuss how the innovative, web-based learning platform combines 3D engineering with 3D gaming to help students develop critical thinking skills and inspire more of them to choose STEM-related careers.
At its Wednesday, Dec. 3, luncheon, Venture Connectors will host JK McKnight, founder of The Forecastle Festival and The Forecastle Foundation. A writer, musician, producer, fundraiser and environmental activist, McKnight will discuss how he leveraged his environment, creativity, networking and innovation to grow The Forecastle Festival, which began as a small community event at Tyler Park in 2002, into a major, international attraction.
McKnight will provide a clinic on how to read the physical, cultural and emotional vernacular of your surroundings. He will discuss how to isolate creativity to build the right product that fits your market and solves a problem. He will talk about how to scale your business and network with your customers, stakeholders, early adopters and future purveyors. He’ll also offer insights into how to sustain growth through constant innovation and iteration.
At its Wednesday, Nov. 5, luncheon meeting, Venture Connectors will host Tendai Charasika and Bobby Ferreri, two former economic development executives who have taken what they learned in their roles with Greater Louisville Inc. to now lead successful startup ventures. Charasika and Ferreri are former executive directors of GLI’s EnterpriseCorp, the entrepreneurship arm of the region’s leading economic development organization that is dedicated to fostering high-potential, early-stage companies. Both say their experiences with GLI are what inspired them to “just do it,” and strike out on their own.
Charasika and Ferreri will talk about their work at GLI, why they decided to take the leap toward entrepreneurship and how they continue to apply the knowledge they gained from supporting the Louisville entrepreneurial community to their new roles. There will also be a Q&A session after their presentation.
Venture Connectors is pleased to host film producer Milan Kumar Chakraborty, CPA, at its Oct. 1 luncheon meeting. Chakraborty’s newest film, “Produce” was filmed in and around Louisville, and will be screened at the IdeaFestival film event on Oct. 4 at 8 p.m. at Louisville Slugger Field.
He will discuss why film is a viable investment and business opportunity on par with any other type of investment, as well as the positive economic impact independent films have on the communities where they are produced. Chakraborty will also share tips on leveraging investments for film and how, as a CPA turned film producer, he is able to maximize revenue, economic incentives and shareholder value on his own movies. Chakraborty will be answering audience questions during his talk. Members and guests are invited to submit questions in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet to @vclou using the hashtag #MilanVC.
In anticipation of the Louisville mini Maker Faire held in conjunction with IdeaFestival later in September, Venture Connectors will host a panel of local “makers” at its Sept. 3 luncheon meeting. Panelists will discuss a brief overview of what the local “Maker Economy” looks like, as well as how the movement is positively impacting the city, its business climate and the lifestyles of its citizens.
Venture Connectors has named Amy Higgs as its manager of communications and administration. Under the leadership of the board of directors, Higgs will execute all membership, marketing, public relations and social media functions for the nonprofit business organization. She will also coordinate and manage all Venture Connectors events. Higgs was selected by the board from a pool of outstanding applicants during a thorough RFP process, conducted earlier this year.
Previously, Venture Connectors contracted with multiple entities for its administrative, website and marketing functions. The board voted to combine these roles into one comprehensive management position to better ensure continuity of operations and maximize resources.
Business professionals who want to swim with sharks without worrying about getting devoured by them should plan to attend the July 9 Venture Connectors evening event, “Sharks Revisited.” All five past winners have become viable, thriving companies since they won the Venture Sharks competition. They have all been invited to come share their progress. Past judges and finalists will also be in attendance.
Since 2010, Venture Connectors has hosted its annual Venture Sharks competition, where entrepreneurs seeking funding for their business plans fend for themselves against a panel of savvy investor sharks fishing for the next great deal. The competition gives presenters just five minutes to describe their idea to a panel of judges who then have five minutes to question the presenters. The lucky survivor receives $10,000 in cash and prizes to help them take their idea to market.
At its June 4 luncheon, Venture Connectors will host an interactive panel discussion featuring three, dynamic women entrepreneurs. Panelists include: Terena Bell, CEO of In Every Language; Kimberly Naisef, founder of Measure CP; and Dayna Neumann, founder of Exsellerator. The panel will be moderated by Suzanne Bergmeister, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of Louisville College of Business and chairman of the Venture Connectors board of directors.
Women’s entrepreneurship has become a fundamental economic force in recent years. Women-owned companies represent nearly 37% of all businesses across the globe, according to the Harvard Business Review. Today’s trends indicate that women will be a driving force of entrepreneurial growth in the future. Venture Connectors is pleased to showcase a few influential Louisville businesswomen during an informal Q&A session. Panelists are expected to discuss how they built their successful companies, as well as the challenges they faced along the way.
Congratulations to 2014 Venture Sharks competition winner, Gear Brake, and its founder, Chris Bailey! Gear Brake creates products to help make motorcycle riding safer and more enjoyable. The company’s first product can reduce rear-end collisions by 90%. We are proud to award $10,000 in cash and prizes to Chris and his team so they can take their business to the next level.
Venture Connectors received more than 50 applications from entrepreneurs across the nation for its 5th annual Venture Sharks competition. The Venture Sharks committee chose the top 12 big ideas for the first round of the competition, held April 16 and 17. During those events, the field was narrowed to five finalists. The final “Shark Bait” round was held on May 7 during at the monthly Venture Connectors’ Luncheon Meeting.