Our December lunch featured an exciting panel of City Collaborative board members, who discussed the importance of community engagement and innovation. 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 her organization addresses the exploitation of women around the world by using design thinking to create employment opportunities, products and services that support economic empowerment. Clines discussed how the Anchal Project has created successful outcomes for a large number of disparate groups — training women in India to sew as they leave the sex trade, then helping them navigate the global fashion market and sell accessories in retail stores.
Are you building your business today as if you plan to sell it tomorrow? At our October lunch, 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.
At Venture Connectors' September lunch, Theo Edmonds, co-founder of the Louisville-based innovation company and cultural think tank IDEAS xLab, 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. Edmonds shared how IDEAS xLab’s initiatives are transforming the way people think about growing healthy cities and healthy citizens.
What does it take to be a regional force in investing? At Venture Connectors' August lunch, we featured Ned Schwartz, partner in Columbus, Ohio-based Drive Capital, a private investment firm that partners with Midwest entrepreneurs in building long-term, sustainable businesses. Schwartz 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. He shared what Drive Capital looks for in a company, examples of businesses that make Louisville and the Midwest region a major hub for entrepreneurial growth, and how communities like Louisville can encourage the creation of venture capital firms like Drive Capital.
Ever wonder what it’s like to be part of a major acquisition? At Venture Connectors’ June luncheon, Tim Reilly, founder and former president of Stonestreet One, shared his experiences when his technology firm was acquired by Qualcomm Inc. in September 2014. The deal represented a strong national endorsement for the Louisville tech sector and a boon for the local investors involved with Stonestreet One.
On May 4, Venture Connectors held the final round of our 7th annual Venture Sharks competition. Switcher Studio was named the winner! Switcher Studio develops easy-to-use and affordable live video streaming tools that allows users to create TV-style productions for the web. Presenters were allowed a few minutes to describe their idea to the judges, who then fired off questions to the presenters in the style of the popular television show, “Shark Tank.” The lucky survivor received $23,000 in cash and prizes to help them take their idea to market. Switcher Studio was selected based on the viability of their idea, the ability of the final award to positively impact the business and the quality of their presentation.
On Wednesday, April 6, Venture Connectors hosted a panel of immigrant business owners who have risen above a variety of challenges to reach unparalleled success in the Louisville area and beyond. Panelists Sundeep “Sunny” Dronawat, Cedric Francois, M.D., and Van Tran shared how they capitalized on their diverse backgrounds, education and skills to establish thriving companies. They also shared how they overcame cultural and linguistic challenges to create jobs and achieve lasting financial viability in the Louisville business climate.
On Wednesday, March 2, Venture Connectors hosted Marty Meyer, president of political campaigns and corporate outreach, and Greg Mosley, director of sales and training, for Louisville-based El Toro. They shared what it takes to move from a startup to a thriving technology firm serving customers across the globe. They also discussed how El Toro is actively shaping the city’s tech landscape and its plans to expand operations both in Louisville and worldwide.
Tech talent in Louisville is a perennial conversation. Are we a tech city? What is holding us back? On Feb. 3, Venture Connectors hosted leaders at Code Louisville and The Software Guild who are working to answer these questions and encourage business leaders in Louisville to help make the city a top destination for tech talent. Panelists Becky Steele, Rachel McGalliard and Rider Rodriguez shared the state of affairs concerning tech talent in Louisville.
Our January lunch featured developer Gill Holland, who gave an update on the progress of Louisville’s Portland Investment Initiative. He discussed what is working and what isn’t, as well as what the community can expect in the coming years from Portland, a low-income neighborhood in Louisville’s West End. Holland also shared insights into opportunities for the entrepreneurial community to get involved in revitalization efforts. Holland began to implement his vision for Portland in 2013, which includes restoring homes, converting empty warehouses into mixed-use developments and reviving the area’s business district.