Return Trajectory

The Equine Industry Program welcomed two alumni back for Fall 2020 to teach as adjuncts in the program. Amy Lawyer, PhD (2006), works at the University of Kentucky in their Lexington Equine Extension office, lectures in UK’s Animal Science and Equine S…

The Equine Industry Program welcomed two alumni back for Fall 2020 to teach as adjuncts in the program. Amy Lawyer, PhD (2006), works at the University of Kentucky in their Lexington Equine Extension office, lectures in UK’s Animal Science and Equine Studies programs, and is teaching an Equine Leadership class. P.J. Anthony (2008) is an...

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Destiny Rising

In 2014, Scoppechio established the Rise Above Scholarship at the University of Louisville to be awarded annually to a student in the College of Business in memory of Debbie Scoppechio, our founder, former CEO and chairperson. An outgoing community and…

In 2014, Scoppechio established the Rise Above Scholarship at the University of Louisville to be awarded annually to a student in the College of Business in memory of Debbie Scoppechio, our founder, former CEO and chairperson. An outgoing community and business leader, Debbie inspired a countless number of young women in Louisville and beyond to...

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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.

College of Business Professor Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Manju Ahuja, PhD, Frazier Family Professor of Computer Information Systems in the University of Louisville College of Business, has received the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Management’s Organizational Communication and Informati…

Manju Ahuja, PhD, Frazier Family Professor of Computer Information Systems in the University of Louisville College of Business, has received the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Management’s Organizational Communication and Information Systems (OCIS) division. This honor recognizes an individual’s sustained contribution to the AoM/OCIS community through significant leadership roles, as well as...

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August Virtual Lunch: Unlocking Productivity with AI & Machine Learning

Venture Connectors’ August virtual lunch featured digital transformation leader Mike Nettles, who gave a fantastic presentation on how some major players in the quick-service restaurant industry have used artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to drive higher levels of guest engagement and team productivity, which helped them increase sales and meet rising labor costs as a result. […]

Venture Connectors' August virtual lunch featured digital transformation leader Mike Nettles, who gave a fantastic presentation on how some major players in the quick-service restaurant industry have used artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to drive higher levels of guest engagement and team productivity, which helped them increase sales and meet rising labor costs as a result.

Mike has delivered technology and business solutions for some of the biggest and most respected names in the restaurant industry. He is passionate about the restaurant business, having spent almost 30 years of his career becoming a self-described “gearhead foodie.” He spearheaded efforts at Papa John’s International and Panera Bread that moved the customer experience outside traditional technology into world-class consumer-facing mobile and digital solutions.

Most recently, Mike was served as Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Growth Officer for Papa John’s, helping to successfully lead the organization through a difficult series of competitive challenges. Prior to this role, Mike was Papa John’s first Chief Information and Digital Officer, tasked with making the brand digitally relevant and transforming its aging technology solutions into a sales-driving powerhouse.

Mike came to Papa John’s from Panera, where he worked as Vice President of Architecture and IT, leading technology efforts for many of the industry-defining “Panera 2.0” transformative digital solutions. Prior to that, Mike was the Co-Founder for Savista (formerly eMac Digital), the provider of global store solutions to McDonald’s Corp., as well as provider of complete outsourced accounting and payroll services to more than 5,000 restaurants in the United States. Mike has also led technology strategy and design efforts for other Top 50 hospitality brands including Brinker International, Subway, Wendy’s, Domino’s and Pizza Hut.

Three Louisville area startups named to XLerateHealth cohort

XLerateHealth, an early-stage health care accelerator that helps companies build out their commercialization strategies, has unveiled the seven startup companies selected for its latest Louisville cohort.

XLerateHealth, an early-stage health care accelerator that helps companies build out their commercialization strategies, has unveiled the seven startup companies selected for its latest Louisville cohort.

Laying Tracks

It’s approximately 384 miles from Blacksburg, Virginia to Louisville, Kentucky, traveling on I-64. Alum Peter Gerstle is very familiar with that distance—he used to hitchhike his way from his hometown of Louisville to Virginia Tech as an undergrad. “My…

It’s approximately 384 miles from Blacksburg, Virginia to Louisville, Kentucky, traveling on I-64. Alum Peter Gerstle is very familiar with that distance—he used to hitchhike his way from his hometown of Louisville to Virginia Tech as an undergrad. “My mom would let me out by the off-ramp, and I’d hitchhike all the way to Blacksburg,”...

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Building Confidence

“I started at the College of Business in the Fall of 2018, which was as unexpected as my pregnancy,” says recent grad Tiffany Fitzpatrick. While to some, the fall semester is the start of a journey, for Tiffany, it was a continuation of years full of e…

“I started at the College of Business in the Fall of 2018, which was as unexpected as my pregnancy,” says recent grad Tiffany Fitzpatrick. While to some, the fall semester is the start of a journey, for Tiffany, it was a continuation of years full of early mornings, late nights, and sacrifice. The goal was...

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