Venture Sharks 2020

Congratulations to Ricky Mason and the team at BrainSTEM University! For more, click here.


2020 Virtual Pitch Competition

Venture Connectors # 1 priority is to keep our community safe. That’s why we’ve decided to take our 2020 Venture Sharks pitch competition virtual! Eight semifinalists were selected to present their ideas to a panel of judges in a virtual format. Four finalists were chosen to compete during Venture Connectors regular monthly (virtual) lunch in October. The winner was selected based on the viability of their idea, the ability of the competition’s prize to positively impact the business and quality of their presentation. For more about the application process click here.

2020 Presenting Sponsor



Applications open: Monday, Aug. 17

Applications due: Friday, Sept. 4, by 5PM

Semifinalists selected: Week of Sept. 14

Semifinalists present virtually to judges: Week of Sept. 21

Finalists announced: Week of Sept. 28

Virtual Finals (Winner Selected): Wednesday, Oct. 7

Prize Package:

  • $5,000 Cash Prize
  • 1 Year Startup Coaching
  • $10,000 Free Startup Services

Startup Coaching

Hundreds of years of experience from peer entrepreneurs across: 

  • Strategic Planning
  • Product Market Fit
  • Software Development
  • Marketing and Promotion
  • Financial Planning
  • Startup Fundraising
  • Legal Structuring

Guidelines for applying to Venture Sharks:

The goal of Venture Sharks is to support early-stage companies and/or entrepreneurs. Here are the criteria for competitors:

Location, Industry: The competition is open to businesses or entrepreneurs from any industry in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee, but presentations for the preliminary and final rounds of competition must be made in person, in Louisville, KY.

Business Establishment: A dedicated LLC or corporation need not have been created, but the idea and business being pitched must not be a direct spinout from a larger parent company. (We expect the parent company to fund this, not Venture Sharks.)

 Age: No restriction on age of the business.

Revenue: The business must have less than $75,000 of lifetime revenue.

Capitalization: The business cannot have raised, or had invested in it, more than $50,000 in equity-based funding. Grant funding is excluded from this amount.

Use of Proceeds: The winner agrees to use both the cash award and the in-kind services to directly pursue the business opportunity presented in the competition.

Judging Criteria: At both the preliminary and final competitions, winners will be selected based on the viability of their idea as a business, the ability of the final award to positively impact the business, and the quality of their presentation.

Details of competing:

Both the preliminary Venture Sharks round and the final Venture Sharks round will follow the same basic format.

  • Presenters will be allowed about 5 minutes to pitch your idea to the judges. Time limits are strictly enforced.
  • Business partners may present together if you wish.
  • You may use props or a product demonstration if you choose to, but no PowerPoint slides can be used.
  • After your presentation, you’ll have a short 5-minute question and answer period with the Sharks judges panel.