January Lunch: Changing the ClimateTech Game

At our first lunch of 2022, Venture Connectors was pleased to feature Louisville-based Climavision’s founder and CEO, Chris Goode, who shared how his weather services and intelligence platform recently raised $100 million in equity funding. He talked about what the process was like, and how the company kept it “under the radar.” He also shared why he […]

At our first lunch of 2022, Venture Connectors was pleased to feature Louisville-based Climavision’s founder and CEO, Chris Goode, who shared how his weather services and intelligence platform recently raised $100 million in equity funding. He talked about what the process was like, and how the company kept it “under the radar.” He also shared why he believes the Louisville region is undervalued by investors, and how his company is providing cutting-edge weather data and forecasting tools that fill in the “observation gaps” to better prepare communities for major weather events. 

For almost 30 years, Goode has pioneered technology that merges big data with meteorology and remote sensing — a lifelong passion culminating in the launch of Climavision, a gamechanger in ClimateTech. After decades in weather tech, Chris knew intimately the value and the limitations of weather data networks. Climavision addresses this problem, expanding access to high-integrity weather information. Through strategic partnerships and a $100 million strategic investment from TPG’s The Rise Fund, his team is alleviating the burden of expensive weather infrastructure and rolling out a proprietary network of radio-occultation satellite and ground-based sensors to help mitigate the risks of increasingly volatile weather.

Before Climavision, Goode leveraged weather data to serve industries such as aviation, energy, media, insurance, defense and international governments. As the CEO for the world’s leading manufacturer of weather sensors and software, and a former vice president at weather heavyweights AirDat, The Weather Channel and WSI (now IBM), Goode helped craft national remote sensing networks for more than 90 countries and led the development of innovative software and data solutions that has changed the way the world sees weather data today. Some of these innovations include smoke detection, commercial dual-polarization, bird-tracking and volcanic ash detection.

A U.S. Air Force veteran, Goode holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Montana.

December Lunch: Why DEI Efforts Are Good for Business

Our December lunch featured a panel discussion on how thoughtful DEI initiatives can generate meaningful change, positively impact your brand, create a more engaged and productive workforce, and earn deeper trust from your team and the community. As Black business owners, they shared how they have been personally affected, efforts they are leading at their […]

Our December lunch featured a panel discussion on how thoughtful DEI initiatives can generate meaningful change, positively impact your brand, create a more engaged and productive workforce, and earn deeper trust from your team and the community. As Black business owners, they shared how they have been personally affected, efforts they are leading at their own companies, the future of DEI and the ongoing need for change. The panelists were:

Jeremiah Chapman, co-founder & CEO of Fresh Fry LLCA Louisville native, he has been recognized by Forbes Magazine’s 30 Under 30 and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Louisville.

Aaron Jordan, CEO and founder of the Black Complex and Recording Arts and Sciences Bootcamp (RASB), as well as an activist and advocate for community empowerment. He is a graduate of the historically Black Tennessee State University, with a bachelor’s degree in integrated marketing communications.

Lecresha Sewell, CEO and founder of Melanated Healthcare LLC. She is a doctorally prepared women’s health nurse practitioner who is passionate about eliminating health disparities and improving health outcomes for all.

The panel was moderated by Kayla Meisner, licensing and new ventures manager for Kentucky Commercialization Ventures (KCV) and Venture Connectors board member. At KCV, she is dedicated to the commercialization of technologies from partner universities and colleges that moves great ideas and research to products on the market for public benefit. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in bioengineering and biomedical engineering from the University of Louisville.

November Lunch: Inside the EdjSports Merger

Venture Connectors’ November lunch featured Sean O’Leary, a prolific Louisville-based entrepreneur and founder of multiple data companies that offer proprietary content to both B2B and consumer markets. He shared an inside look at the merger of EdjSports LLC, an advanced analytics firm for the sports industry that enables smarter decision making and performance, and Champion […]

Venture Connectors’ November lunch featured Sean O’Leary, a prolific Louisville-based entrepreneur and founder of multiple data companies that offer proprietary content to both B2B and consumer markets. He shared an inside look at the merger of EdjSports LLC, an advanced analytics firm for the sports industry that enables smarter decision making and performance, and Champion Gaming Inc., a holding company that will soon become publicly traded on the TSX Venture Exchange.

O’Leary co-founded the sports-centric EdjAnalytics spin-out with Frank Frigo, and now serves as president of Champion Gaming, the premier sports intelligence destination for sports teams, bettors, players and fans. Prior to that, he served as co-founder and CEO of Genscape Inc., an organization that offers proprietary data to the global energy markets.

O’Leary has been recognized as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, which honors entrepreneurial excellence in vision, innovation and leadership in building and growing successful businesses. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and economics from the University of Michigan and is a graduate of the University of Louisville’s first MBA in Entrepreneurship class. In 2016, O’Leary was recognized as an Endeavor Entrepreneur.

Venture Connectors announces 2021 Venture Sharks winner

Venture Connectors is excited to announce Athelo Health is the winner of our 12th annual Venture Sharks™ business pitch competition. Led by founder Jessica Thurmond, Athelo Health is a B2B SaaS-based mobile application aimed at improving quality of life outcomes for patients with cancer while decreasing costs of service.  The winner was selected during the […]

Venture Connectors is excited to announce Athelo Health is the winner of our 12th annual Venture Sharks™ business pitch competition.

Led by founder Jessica Thurmond, Athelo Health is a B2B SaaS-based mobile application aimed at improving quality of life outcomes for patients with cancer while decreasing costs of service.

 The winner was selected during the final round of competition on Oct. 6, where three entrepreneurs seeking funding for their business plans faced off virtually with a panel of savvy investor sharks fishing for the next great deal. Athelo was selected based on the viability of its idea, the ability of the competition’s prize to positively impact the business and quality of its presentation.

Venture Connectors received dozens of applications from entrepreneurs across the region. During the finals, 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 winner receives a grand prize package designed to help them take their idea to market, including a $5,000 cash award, one-on-one mentoring from established entrepreneurs and advisors, and other in-kind services provided by sponsors.

Venture Sharks’ presenting sponsor is Amplify Louisville. Cash sponsors are Amplify, the Community Foundation of Louisville and PNC Bank. In-kind sponsors include Amplify, Mightily, Fleur de Lis Communications, Ackerman CPAs and Frost Brown Todd

Judges for the finals event were Dan Beldy, managing director, Airwing Ventures; Paul Ford, managing principal, DS9 Capital; and John Willmoth, founder and managing partner, Poplar Ventures.

The other finalists were:

    • Grouper, founded by Chris Wiedmar, is a social messaging platform that connects users and creators based on their interests, hobbies and passions.
    • HBCU Tour, founded by Nasir Jones, is a subscription-based vendor services platform for current and former students of historically black colleges and universities.

Venture Sharks has awarded more than $100,000 in prizes since it launched in 2010. For more about the competition, click here

Announcing the 2021 Venture Sharks Finalists!

Venture Connectors is very pleased to announce the three early-stage startups who will compete in the final round of our 12th annual Venture Sharks™ business pitch competition on Wednesday, Oct. 6! The Venture Sharks selection committee chose the top ideas for the first round of competition, which was held Sept. 21. The finalists were selected based on the viability of their business, […]

Venture Connectors is very pleased to announce the three early-stage startups who will compete in the final round of our 12th annual Venture Sharks™ business pitch competition on Wednesday, Oct. 6!
 
The Venture Sharks selection committee chose the top ideas for the first round of competition, which was held Sept. 21. The finalists were selected based on the viability of their business, the quality of their presentation and the impact the Venture Sharks prize could have on their company. 
   
The finalists are:

  • Athelo Health, a B2B SaaS-based mobile application aimed at improving quality of life outcomes for patients with cancer while decreasing costs of service. Founder is Jessica Thurmond.
  • Grouper, a social messaging platform that connects users and creators based on their interests, hobbies and passions. Founder is Chris Wiedmar.
  • HBCU Tour, a subscription-based vendor services platform for current and former students of historically black colleges and universities. Founder is Nasir Jones.

During the finals, competitors will face a panel of savvy investor sharks fishing for the next great deal. They will each be allowed five minutes to describe their idea to the judges, who then will fire off questions to the presenters in the style of the television show, “Shark Tank.” One lucky survivor will receive a prize package designed to help them take their idea to market. In addition to a $5,000 cash award, the prize package will include one-on-one mentoring from established entrepreneurs and advisors. Judges are: Dan Beldy, managing director, Airwing Ventures; Paul Ford, managing principal, DS9 Capital; and John Willmoth, founder and managing partner, Poplar Ventures.

This competition would not be possible without our generous sponsors. Venture Sharks’ presenting sponsor is Amplify Louisville. Cash sponsors are Amplify, the Community Foundation of Louisville and PNC Bank. In-kind sponsors include Amplify, MightilyFleur de Lis CommunicationsAckerman CPAs and Frost Brown Todd
 
The final round will be held during Venture Connectors’ regular monthly lunch on Oct. 6 at TEN20 Craft Brewery, 1020 E. Washington St., from noon-1 p.m. The event is free to Venture Connectors members and $40 for guests. Registration is required. 

COME SWIM WITH THE SHARKS ON OCT. 6! 

Venture Sharks’ 2021 Semifinalists Announced!

Venture Connectors is excited to announce the six semifinalists chosen to compete in the preliminary round of our 12th annual Venture Sharks™ business pitch competition! During the prelims on Tuesday, Sept. 21, the field will be narrowed to a few finalists. Those lucky survivors will then compete in front of a panel of savvy investor sharks fishing for the […]

Venture Connectors is excited to announce the six semifinalists chosen to compete in the preliminary round of our 12th annual Venture Sharks™ business pitch competition! During the prelims on Tuesday, Sept. 21, the field will be narrowed to a few finalists. Those lucky survivors will then compete in front of a panel of savvy investor sharks fishing for the next great deal at our regular monthly lunch on Wednesday, Oct. 6. Both events will be held at TEN20 Craft Brewery, 1020 E. Washington St.
  
The brave semifinalists are:

  • Athelo Health, a B2B SaaS-based mobile application aimed at improving quality of life outcomes for patients with cancer while decreasing costs of service. Founder is Jessica Thurmond.
  • GTM Technologies LLC, developer of Bare Trace, a B2B service designed to help companies of any size regain customer and employee confidence after a security breach or significant impact event. Founder is Jay Smith.
  • Grouper, a social messaging platform that connects users and creators based on their interests, hobbies and passions. Founder is Chris Wiedmar.
  • HBCU Tour, a subscription-based vendor services platform for current and former students of historically black colleges and universities. Founder is Nasir Jones.
  • Statcode, maker of solutions designed to bridge the data gap between major companies and medium to small companies by making data science affordable for everyone. Founder is Caryle Blondell.
  • USS Veteran Services Co., developer of world’s first Smart Ladder, built with LED lights and sensors for better safety. Founder is Cliff Johns. 

In both rounds of competition, presenters will be allowed a few minutes to describe their idea to the judges, who then will fire off questions to the presenters in the style of the television show, “Shark Tank.” The winner will receive a prize package designed to help them take their idea to market. In addition to a $5,000 cash award, they will receive one-on-one mentoring from established entrepreneurs and advisors.

Doors open for the Venture Sharks prelims on Sept. 21 at 5 p.m. The event, presented by Amplify Louisville and Ky Innovation, is free and open to the public. 

The Oct. 6 finals will be held from noon-1 p.m. There is no cost for Venture Connectors members and $40 for guests. Registration is required. 
 
This year’s Venture Sharks sponsors are Amplify Louisville, the Community Foundation of Louisville, PNC Bank, Fleur de Lis Communications and Frost Brown Todd

COME SWIM WITH THE SHARKS! 

September Lunch: The AppHarvest Story

Venture Connectors was pleased to welcome Matt Gosnell, Vice President of Development for AppHarvest., as the keynote for our September lunch. He shared how he’s helping to efforts to scale the Morehead, Ky.-based 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 […]

Venture Connectors was pleased to welcome Matt Gosnell, Vice President of Development for AppHarvest., as the keynote for our September lunch. He shared how he’s helping to efforts to scale the Morehead, Ky.-based 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. Matt talked about some of the challenges the company has faced in its early days as a publicly traded company. He also shared other milestones in the past year, including the acquisition of robotics company Root AI and the groundbreakings on its fourth and fifth facilities.

Prior to joining AppHarvest, Matt worked in municipal finance in Chicago, management training and conflict resolution in South America, and most recently as Project Developer for a U.S. Department of Defense office responsible for reducing costs through renewable energy programs. Matt oversaw projects with investments exceeding $250 million and covering more than 1,000 acres. Matt received his bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Kentucky and holds a master’s degree in international relations from Columbia University.

Applications open for 12th Annual Venture Sharks Pitch Competition

Venture Connectors today announced that applications for our 12th annual Venture Sharks business pitch competition are now open! Early-stage companies and entrepreneurs are invited to compete for a $5,000 cash prize and thousands of dollars of in-kind services. Venture Sharks has awarded more than $100,000 in prizes since it launched in 2010. Applications are available […]

Venture Connectors today announced that applications for our 12th annual Venture Sharks business pitch competition are now open! Early-stage companies and entrepreneurs are invited to compete for a $5,000 cash prize and thousands of dollars of in-kind services. Venture Sharks has awarded more than $100,000 in prizes since it launched in 2010.

Applications are available here and are due by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 8. The Venture Sharks committee will choose the top ideas to compete during the preliminary round of the competition, held Sept. 21, where the field then will be narrowed to four finalists. The final round will be held on Oct. 6 during the regular monthly Venture Connectors’ luncheon meeting.

In both rounds of competition, presenters will be allowed a few minutes to describe their idea to the judges, who then will fire off questions to the presenters in the style of the television show, “Shark Tank.” One lucky survivor will receive a prize package designed to help them take their idea to market. In addition to a $5,000 cash award, the prize package will include one-on-one mentoring from established entrepreneurs and advisors.

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. A dedicated LLC or corporation need not have been created, but the idea and business being pitched must not be a direct spinout of a larger parent company. There is no restriction on age of the business, but it must have less than $75,000 of lifetime revenue. The business also cannot have raised, or had invested in it, more than $50,000 from any source at the time of application.

The Venture Sharks winner must agree to use their prize to directly pursue the business opportunity presented in the competition. The winner will be 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. Sponsorship opportunities for the 2021 Venture Sharks competition still are available. For information, contact Venture Connectors Chairman Larry Horn at lwhorn@outlook.com

Location and details for the preliminary and finals events will be announced soon.

August Lunch: The Entrepreneur’s Canvas

We were excited to welcome Paul Ford as the keynote for our August lunch. Founder and CEO of Traffk, and Managing Principal of DS9 Capital, Paul generously shared his journey and insights into the advantages and disadvantages of building businesses in Kentucky. Traffk is an innovative insurance underwriting and distribution platform designed to build and launch modern insurance products and […]

We were excited to welcome Paul Ford as the keynote for our August lunch. Founder and CEO of Traffk, and Managing Principal of DS9 Capital, Paul generously shared his journey and insights into the advantages and disadvantages of building businesses in Kentucky.

Traffk is an innovative insurance underwriting and distribution platform designed to build and launch modern insurance products and brands that scale. DS9 Capital is a privately held business development company (BDC) focused on commercializing/warehousing IP and launching a portfolio of founder-friendly companies closely tied to insurance and financial services. Paul has successfully launched several companies out of his BDC, with more on the way.

Paul is a Northern California native, born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He moved to Kentucky four years ago to improve quality of life and build in the region after surveying several destinations in the United States for his headquarters. Paul’s technology, insurance and economics background helps him carve out opportunities and build incredible networks that enable job creation and economic opportunities in the communities where he operates.

June Virtual Lunch: Louisville Startups Capitalizing on CBD Growth

According to the most recent research, the global cannabidiol market was valued at $2.8 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at an annual rate of 21.2% from 2021 to 2028. The healing properties of CBD-infused products, and the increasing acceptance of their use in mainstream society, are major factors driving that growth.  At […]

According to the most recent research, the global cannabidiol market was valued at $2.8 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at an annual rate of 21.2% from 2021 to 2028. The healing properties of CBD-infused products, and the increasing acceptance of their use in mainstream society, are major factors driving that growth.  At our June lunch, Venture Connectors was pleased to host a panel of Louisville entrepreneurs who are riding the CBD wave with great success.

The panelists were: Matt Arnold, co-founder and president of Bluegrass Best CBDJeff Stum, co-founder and chief products officer for Hectare’s CBD Innovations; and Dee Dee Taylor, owner of 502 Hemp Wellness Center. Taylor also moderated the discussion.

They shared how they got started in the industry, the ongoing challenges of educating the public about their products, navigating industry regulations and the “2nd wave of CBD,” how their businesses have weathered the pandemic, as well as what’s next for them and other CBD retailers in the Louisville region.