Applications Open for 10th Annual Venture Sharks

Applications for the 10th annual Venture Sharks business competition are now open. Early-stage companies and entrepreneurs are invited to compete for a $5,000 cash prize, one year of startup coaching and thousands of dollars of in-kind services, provided by the competition’s sponsors. Vogt Invention & Innovation Fund returns this year at the competition’s title sponsor. […]

Applications for the 10th annual Venture Sharks business competition are now open. Early-stage companies and entrepreneurs are invited to compete for a $5,000 cash prize, one year of startup coaching and thousands of dollars of in-kind services, provided by the competition’s sponsors. Vogt Invention & Innovation Fund returns this year at the competition’s title sponsor. Venture Sharks has awarded more than $100,000 in prizes since it launched in 2010.

Applications are available at ventureconnectors.org/venturesharks and are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, March 29. The Venture Sharks committee will choose the top ideas to compete during the preliminary round of the competition, held April 18, where the field then will be narrowed to four finalists. The final round will be held on May 1 during the monthly Venture Connectors’ luncheon meeting. Visit Events to register.

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.

New to the prize package this year, 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 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 John Williamson at (502) 498-9607 or johndwilliamson@gmail.com.

February Lunch: Apellis Success Story

At our February lunch, President and CEO Cedric Francois, MD, PhD, shared the inspiring success story of Crestwood, Ky.-based Apellis Pharmaceuticals Inc. He talked about his experiences with taking the pharmaceutical company public, as well as finding/attracting talent and securing funding. Apellis is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of novel therapeutic compounds […]

At our February lunch, President and CEO Cedric Francois, MD, PhD, shared the inspiring success story of Crestwood, Ky.-based Apellis Pharmaceuticals Inc. He talked about his experiences with taking the pharmaceutical company public, as well as finding/attracting talent and securing funding.

Apellis is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of novel therapeutic compounds for the treatment of a broad range of life-threatening or debilitating autoimmune diseases. Dr. Francois co-founded the company in September 2009, and it now has clinical and manufacturing operations all over the world. He also co-founded Potentia Pharmaceuticals Inc., a private biotechnology company that operates as a subsidiary of Apellis, and has served as its President and CEO since 2001.

Dr. Francois earned his medical degree from the University of Leuven in Belgium and his PhD in physiology from the University of Louisville. Following postgraduate training in pediatric and transplant surgery, Dr. Francois served on the research team that performed the first successful hand transplant, of the Louisville Face Transplant Team, whose work supported hand transplantation in Lyon, France in 2005.