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! 

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.

BrainSTEM University is the 2020 Venture Sharks Winner!

Venture Connectors is thrilled to share that BrainSTEM University is the winner of our 11th annual Venture Sharks™ business pitch competition! Led by founder Ricky Mason, BrainSTEM is an educational tech startup that provides in-person and virtual learning via a proprietary virtual learning environment and social network that allows students to participate in STEM classes, […]

Venture Sharks 2020 winnerVenture Connectors is thrilled to share that BrainSTEM University is the winner of our 11th annual Venture Sharks™ business pitch competition! Led by founder Ricky Mason, BrainSTEM is an educational tech startup that provides in-person and virtual learning via a proprietary virtual learning environment and social network that allows students to participate in STEM classes, projects and clubs. Congratulations, Ricky! 

The winner was selected during the final round of competition on Oct. 7, where four entrepreneurs seeking funding for their business plans faced off virtually with a panel of savvy investor sharks fishing for the next great deal. BrainSTEM 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 Sharks’ 2020 presenting sponsor is Open i Advisors.

Venture Connectors received more than 30 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 received 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 Open i Advisors, Forecastr, Mightily and Mira.

We also want to thank our wonderful judges: Monique Quarterman, executive director of the newly formed Kentucky Commercialization Ventures; Paul Ehlinger, principal at Allos Ventures, with locations in Indianapolis and Cincinnati; and Ida Khodami, partner at Two Bear Capital based in Whitefish, Montana.

Please join us in congratulating the other finalists, who were brave enough to jump in the water with the Sharks:

  • Borderless, an online bank payment processor enabling affordable and direct digital payments from anywhere in the world without the need for foreign bank accounts.
  • CASPER Security, a company that helps municipalities protect first responders and neighbors from vacant and abandoned property disasters through rapid deployments of a proprietary, solar-powered home security system.
  • Pav*r, an integrated productivity tool that leverages calendar data to help users get more done in less time.

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

Here Are Your 2020 Venture Sharks Finalists!

Venture Connectors is proud to announce the four startups that will compete in the final round of our 11th annual Venture Sharks™ business pitch competition on Wednesday, Oct. 7! Venture Connectors received more than 30 applications from entrepreneurs across the region. The Venture Sharks selection committee chose the top eight ideas for the first round […]

Venture Connectors is proud to announce the four startups that will compete in the final round of our 11th annual Venture Sharks™ business pitch competition on Wednesday, Oct. 7!

Venture Connectors received more than 30 applications from entrepreneurs across the region. The Venture Sharks selection committee chose the top eight ideas for the first round of competition, which was held during a closed pitch session on Sept. 24. The four 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. They are:

  • Borderless, an online bank payment processor enabling affordable and direct digital payments from anywhere in the world without the need for foreign bank accounts.
  • BrainSTEM, an educational tech startup that provides in-person and virtual learning via a proprietary virtual learning environment and social network that allows students to participate in STEM classes, projects and clubs.
  • CASPER Security, a company that helps municipalities protect first responders and neighbors from vacant and abandoned property disasters through rapid deployments of a proprietary, solar-powered home security system.
  • Pav*r, an integrated productivity tool that leverages calendar data to help users get more done in less time.

During the final round, 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, including a $5,000 cash award, one-on-one mentoring from established entrepreneurs and advisors, as well as in-kind services provided by Open i Advisors and other sponsors. Venture Connectors is partnering with Open i Advisors for operational management of the competition.

The package includes startup coaching and one-on-one mentoring in key areas, such as strategic planning, product/market fit, software development, marketing and promotion, financial advising and modeling, capital fundraising and legal structuring.

Thanks to all the semifinalists who presented, and thank you to our prelims judges Zack Pennington, Mary Tapolsky and Raechele Gray!

Our Oct. 7 finals event will be held via Zoom from noon-1 p.m. and is open to the public. It is free to Venture Connectors members and $10 for guests. To jump in the water with the Sharks, register here.

Announcing the 2020 Venture Sharks Semifinalists!

The semifinalists are: Borderless, an online bank payment processor enabling affordable and direct digital payments from anywhere in the world without the need for foreign bank accounts. BrainSTEM, an educational tech startup that provides in-person and virtual learning via a proprietary virtual learning environment and social network that allows students to participate in STEM classes, […]

Venture Connectors is excited to share that we’ve chosen eight semifinalists to compete in the preliminary round of our 111h annual Venture Sharks™ business competition!

The semifinalists will meet in a virtual, closed session with a panel of judges to present their ideas during the week of Sept. 21. During that event, the field will be narrowed to four finalists, who will compete in front of a panel of savvy investor sharks fishing for the next great deal at Venture Connectors’ virtual lunch on Wednesday, Oct. 7.

The semifinalists are:

  • Borderless, an online bank payment processor enabling affordable and direct digital payments from anywhere in the world without the need for foreign bank accounts.
  • BrainSTEM, an educational tech startup that provides in-person and virtual learning via a proprietary virtual learning environment and social network that allows students to participate in STEM classes, projects and clubs.
  • CASPER Security, a company that helps municipalities protect first responders and neighbors from vacant & abandoned property disasters through rapid deployments of a proprietary, solar-powered home security system.
  • FreshEyes Solutions, a business to business technology company. Its debut product is a self-service fragrance kiosk where consumers can learn about fragrances, sample them, and complete the purchase.
  • Pav*r, a Google Calendar integrated productivity tool that assists users in aggregating microdata about the meetings and events on their calendar then using that data to create usable documents like time reports, invoices, mileage reports, project reports, and more.
  • Seats, an investment instrument for small business and start-up funding, in which companies identify $1,000 bands of future revenue and sell these bands at a discount to investors with a Seat contract.
  • Synaptek, a mobile and HIPAA compliant SaaS product that simplifies and optimizes concussion testing, data management and data reporting.
  • Tethyr, a technology product that harnesses content from different sources and gathers them together in one convenient program, letting otherwise conflicting codes play nicely in a singular interface.

One lucky survivor will receive a 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, as well as in-kind services provided by Open i Advisors and other sponsors.

Venture Connectors received more than 30 applications from entrepreneurs across the region. The Venture Sharks selection committee chose the top ideas for the first round of competition. Please join us in congratulating all the brave entrepreneurs who were brave enough to jump in the water with our Sharks!

Our Oct. 7 finals event will be held via Zoom from noon-1 p.m. and is open to the public. It is free to Venture Connectors members and $10 for guests. Register here.

Sponsorship opportunities for the 2020 Venture Sharks competition still are available. For information, contact Stacey Servo at stacey@openiadvisors.com.

Venture Sharks Goes Virtual! Apply Now

Venture Connectors is pleased to announce that applications for its 11th annual Venture Sharks business pitch competition are now open! The competition was postponed earlier this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and has been relaunched as an all-virtual event. Early-stage companies and entrepreneurs are invited to compete for a $5,000 cash prize and thousands […]

Venture Connectors is pleased to announce that applications for its 11th annual Venture Sharks business pitch competition are now open! The competition was postponed earlier this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and has been relaunched as an all-virtual event. 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 Friday, Sept. 4. The Venture Sharks committee will choose eight startups to compete during a preliminary round of the competition, which will be held in mid-September. The field then will be narrowed to four finalists. The final round of competition will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 7, during Venture Connectors’ virtual lunch meeting.

Eight semifinalists will meet virtually with a panel of judges to present their ideas, and four finalists will be selected to compete during the virtual finals event Oct. 7. Competitors will be given a few minutes to present, then the judges will fire off questions to them in the style of the popular television show, “Shark Tank.”  One lucky survivor will receive a 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, as well as in-kind services provided by Open i Advisors and other sponsors. Venture Connectors is partnering with Open i Advisors for operational management of the competition.

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 2020 Venture Sharks competition still are available. For information, contact Stacey Servo at stacey@openiadvisors.com.

The Oct. 7 finals event will be held via Zoom from noon-1 p.m. and is open to the public. It is free to Venture Connectors members and $10 for guests. Click here to register.

Wicked Sheets CEO Pivots to Make Protective Masks During COVID-19 Crisis

We’re so proud of Venture Connectors Board President and 2012 Venture Sharks pitch competition winner, Alli Truttmann! The Wicked Sheets CEO has begun making protective masks to fill a critical need for personal protective equipment (PPE). With all available PPE going to healthcare workers on the front lines (and rightfully so), others who may be […]

We’re so proud of Venture Connectors Board President and 2012 Venture Sharks pitch competition winner, Alli Truttmann! The Wicked Sheets CEO has begun making protective masks to fill a critical need for personal protective equipment (PPE).

With all available PPE going to healthcare workers on the front lines (and rightfully so), others who may be at risk are having to get creative to protect themselves. Alli recognized that her company’s materials and expertise could be put to a new use during the COVID-19 crisis.

The washable, hypoallergenic protective face masks have doubled layers of Wicked Sheets’ fabric, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. Just like the company’s bedding, the masks are certified asthma and allergy friendly as well as moisture-wicking, giving wearers added protection, while still allowing them to breathe comfortably and easily.

Alli quickly pivoted to adapt her Louisville-based manufacturing operations and began sewing masks less than 10 days ago. Wicked Sheets has already filled orders for thousands of masks, with more orders pouring in every day.

Masks are $10 each and can be ordered online here. Please be patient with shipping. Wicked Sheets is experiencing incredible demand and is putting healthcare workers and vulnerable populations first as it ramps up production.

“Just like most people I know, I’m doing everything I can to keep myself, my friends, family and our community safe,” says Alli. “I just happen to be able to do a little more than most. Wicked Sheets’ operations are set up to sew fabric for our sleep products. Now, we’re simply turning some of our attention toward filling a gap in the supply chain and doing our part to flatten the curve. It’s what any entrepreneur in my position would do.”

Founded in 2008, Wicked Sheets has grown from operating out of a one-bedroom apartment to an international sleep brand. The company was recently featured on QVC and participated in the Global Startup Grind in 2019.

"We are a small, female-owned Kentucky company that was able to transform itself in order to help during a national crisis. We feel very fortunate that we're able to make such an impact during this unprecedented time in history,” Alli adds. “We are welcoming remote makers and volunteers to help cut and sew to supplement our own manufacturing. Many recently unemployed folks have already stepped up to cut, sew and help us, help others. It's unreal." 

If you’d like to get involved, contact Alli at alli@wickedsheets.com.

Thank you, Alli, for your creativity and hard work to keep our community safe during these challenging times!

Applications for 11th annual Venture Sharks business pitch competition now open

Applications for the 11th 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 Connectors has partnered with Open i Advisors for operational management of the competition this year. Venture Sharks has awarded more than […]

Applications for the 11th 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 Connectors has partnered with Open i Advisors for operational management of the competition this year. 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 Friday, March 20. The Venture Sharks committee will choose the top ideas to compete during the preliminary round of the competition, held April 14, where the field then will be narrowed to four finalists. The final round will be held on May 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, as well as in-kind services provided by Open i Advisors and other sponsors.

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 2019 Venture Sharks competition still are available. For information, contact Ellie Puckett at ellie@openiadvisors.com.

Details and location for the April 14 preliminary event will be announced soon. The May 6 finals event will be held at the Muhammad Ali Center, 144 N. Sixth St. Doors open at 11:45 a.m., and the meeting runs from noon-1 p.m. Register here.

Prodigy Biosciences wins 10th annual Venture Sharks competition

Venture Connectors has named Prodigy Biosciences the winner of our 10th annual Venture Sharks™ business competition. Prodigy is developing a rapid tableside food testing device that will specifically detect traces of peanuts in food samples. The final round of competition was held May 1, where four entrepreneurs seeking funding for their business plans faced off […]

Venture Connectors President Elect John Williamson and Amanda Cannady of Prodigy Biosciences

Venture Connectors has named Prodigy Biosciences the winner of our 10th annual Venture Sharks™ business competition. Prodigy is developing a rapid tableside food testing device that will specifically detect traces of peanuts in food samples. The final round of competition was held May 1, where four entrepreneurs seeking funding for their business plans faced off with a panel of savvy investor sharks fishing for the next great deal. The company was selected based on the viability of its idea, the ability of the competition’s prize to positively impact the business and the quality of their presentation.

Congrats also to Brandon Young and Pascal Tags for winning crowd favorite during audience text voting. He will receive a complimentary Venture Connectors membership for two people for one year.

Venture Connectors received more than 30 applications from entrepreneurs across the region 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 received a $5,000 cash prize, one year of startup coaching and thousands of dollars of in-kind services to help them take their idea to market. Startup coaching will include one-on-one mentoring from established entrepreneurs and advisors on: strategic planning, product/market fit, software development, marketing and promotion, financial advising and modeling, capital fundraising and legal structuring.

The others finalists were:

  • Gluconfidence, a convenient source of fast-acting, concentrated glucose for people with diabetes
  • Pascal Tags LLC, the first completely passive inventory tag allowing for identification without a chip or battery
  • The Read Read, the first device that allows children and adults with visual impairments and blindness to independently learn and practice phonics and braille

This year’s Venture Sharks title sponsor is the Vogt Invention & Innovation Fund. Thanks to many generous sponsors over the years, Venture Sharks has awarded more than $100,000 in prizes since it launched in 2010.