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.

Call for Proposals: The Recther Fellowships in Positive Leadership

The Project on Positive Leadership at the University of Louisville College of Business is now considering proposals for the 2021 Sam and Bonnie Recther Fellowships in Positive Leadership. Fellowship recipients will receive $5,000 grants to create instr…

The Project on Positive Leadership at the University of Louisville College of Business is now considering proposals for the 2021 Sam and Bonnie Recther Fellowships in Positive Leadership. Fellowship recipients will receive $5,000 grants to create instructional tools or conduct research that advance the mission of The Project on Positive Leadership — to increase positive...

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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.

September Virtual Lunch: Inside Lou City FC

A Louisville native, Brad Estes has served multi-billion-dollar corporations and closely held family businesses with a finance and operating background before leading his hometown’s top professional sports franchise. As president of Soccer Holdings LLC, Estes oversees both the USL Championship club Louisville City FC and Racing Louisville FC, a 2021 newcomer to the top-tier National […]

At our September event, Louisville City Football Club President Brad Estes shared an inside look at the journey of a pro sports startup in a college town. He talked about the emergence of professional soccer in the United States, the planning and effort behind bringing a club to Louisville, the logistics of building a stadium, and the latest news about Lou City.

A Louisville native, Brad Estes has served multi-billion-dollar corporations and closely held family businesses with a finance and operating background before leading his hometown’s top professional sports franchise. As president of Soccer Holdings LLC, Estes oversees both the USL Championship club Louisville City FC and Racing Louisville FC, a 2021 newcomer to the top-tier National Women’s Soccer League.

Estes’ career includes stops as Chief Financial Officer of Smoothstone IP Communications, Vice President of Finance for Trilogy Health Services and President of Neace Ventures. After assisting the club as a consultant for a year, Estes signed on with Soccer Holdings full time in 2017. The St. Xavier High School graduate received his accounting degree from Marshall University while playing football for the Thundering Herd. Estes completed his education in 2002 with an MBA from the University of Louisville.

Fall 2020 Dean’s Message

The Pivot to the Fall 2020 semester is in full swing. I think everyone is happy to see some semblance of normalcy returning — imperfect as that “normalcy” is today — and returning to more familiar patterns of life. Personally, I am very  grateful …

The Pivot to the Fall 2020 semester is in full swing. I think everyone is happy to see some semblance of normalcy returning — imperfect as that “normalcy” is today — and returning to more familiar patterns of life. Personally, I am very  grateful for the condition we’re in, knowing full-well that the College of...

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Vibrant Entrepreneurship Hub

Daniel L. Bennett, PhD, has joined the College of Business as assistant professor of entrepreneurship, affiliated with the Center for Free Enterprise (CFE). In his new role, Dr. Bennett teaches undergraduate and graduate classes, continues his research…

Daniel L. Bennett, PhD, has joined the College of Business as assistant professor of entrepreneurship, affiliated with the Center for Free Enterprise (CFE). In his new role, Dr. Bennett teaches undergraduate and graduate classes, continues his research related to entrepreneurship, and works closely with the Center for Free Enterprise on entrepreneurship-themed programming and events for...

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Net-work Support

“Net Tango is a Louisville story,” says founder, President, CEO, and UofL MBA alum Susan Weiss. Founded in 1996, the company builds web solutions for enterprise level organizations. Net Tango specializes in web software development, enterprise website …

“Net Tango is a Louisville story,” says founder, President, CEO, and UofL MBA alum Susan Weiss. Founded in 1996, the company builds web solutions for enterprise level organizations. Net Tango specializes in web software development, enterprise website development, and digital strategy consulting. It was recently ranked sixth on Louisville’s Largest Software Developers by Business First...

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