Our January virtual lunch featured from Anthony (Tony) Ellis, Acting Executive Director of KY Innovation with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. He shared how KY Innovation is leveraging the Commonwealth’s regional advantages and statewide collaboration to support Kentucky’s growing startup environment.
Our February virtual lunch featured a panel of podcast experts, who shared their experience with the medium, how it can be effective marketing for startups and many other businesses, as well as tips on how to launch your own podcast. Panelists were Jacob Bozarth, cofounder and CEO of Resonate Recordings; Bradley Davis, co-founder and CEO of Podchaser; Laura Ellis, Senior Producer & Podcast Editor at Louisville Public Media; Logan Jones, co-host and producer for the Middle Tech podcast in Lexington; and Chase Minnifield, President of EZ Turn and cohost of CTC (Cut the Check) podcast in Lexington. The panel was moderated by Jason Falls, head of digital strategy at Cornett, and host of two marketing podcasts, Digging Deeper and Winfluence.
When our regularly scheduled speaker had a last-minute scheduling conflict, Demetrius Gray, Co-founder & CEO of WeatherCheck, stepped up to share his incredible entrepreneurial journey, including his approach to acquiring funding, obstacles and successes along the way. A third-generation entrepreneur and Kentucky native, Gray started WeatherCheck after experience in the finance, roofing and disaster restoration industries helped him realize that key processes were ripe for disruption and automation. Today, WeatherCheck monitors over 4 million properties for hail damage for some of the biggest names in insurance around the world.
Our April lunch featured leading marketing strategist and entrepreneurial visionary Tawana Bain, who shared how she has pivoted in recent years to cultivate and streamline a diverse portfolio of partnerships and services. She is CEO at TBAIN & Co. and founder of the Global Economic Diversity Development Initiative, a Black-founded and predominantly Black-led nonprofit focused on building economic wealth for the Black community. She is also owner of Today’s Woman Magazine, and The Black Jockey’s Lounge.
Our May lunch featured Alex Reed, co-founder of Truman’s, a direct-to-consumer cleaning products company, and former executive of Lexington, Ky.-based Big Ass Fans. He shared a look behind the scenes on both companies’ exits, and talked about what he learned from those experiences.
Our June lunch featured a panel of entrepreneur who are capitalizing on the growth of the CBD industry. The panelists were: Matt Arnold, co-founder and president of Bluegrass Best CBD; Jeff Stum, co-founder and chief products officer for Hectare’s CBD Innovations; and Dee Dee Taylor, owner of 502 Hemp Wellness Center.
Our August lunch featured Paul Ford, Founder and CEO of Traffk, and Managing Principal of DS9 Capital, who shared his journey and insights into the advantages and disadvantages of building businesses in Kentucky.
Our September lunch featured Matt Gosnell, Vice President of Development for AppHarvest, who shared how he is leading in efforts to scale the controlled-environment-agriculture company to 12 indoor farms by the end of 2025. AppHarvest went public in February 2020 via a merger with Novus Capital Corp., special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), for $475 million.