NOT just another list (updated): You really should know Louisville’s insider tech innovators, visionaries and financiers
(Editor’s note: This post was most recently updated with additional names at 8:45 a.m. on May 30.)
If it weren’t a holiday, this is where you’d usually be reading the Monday Business Briefing.
In lieu of real news, we’re finally posting something we’ve been planning for months, but only got the spark to complete last Wednesday.
The event was jammed, with more than 100 people attending. But it was more than that – unlike the Business First/GLI networking events, the Forge event drew Louisville’s A-list entrepreneurs and financiers including Forge founder Adam Fish, Impulcity creators Hunter Hammonds and Austin Cameron, deal maker Bill Strench, investors Kent Oyler, Dale Boden and David Jones, Jr. and Michael Bott from The Brandery, the seed stage startup accelerator up in Cincinnati.
Before that, IL published a post on Impulcity that got thousands of pageviews and 117 Facebook likes, which means somewhere on the order of 12,000 people saw at least a synopsis of the post.
What struck us is:
• this may be the most exciting time in Louisville for creative types, entrepreneurs and financiers. For whatever reasons, there seem to be so many people with workable ideas at precisely the time investors are looking at next-gen business.
• there is insufficient cross pollination between Forge and other groups Insider Louisville has covered including Louisville Digital Association and LVL1, the huge builders/engineers collective on Broadway.
Everyone needs each other. But can they find each other?
In a town this small, everyone should know each player, if not personally, through interlocking networks. But do they? As Shawn O’Leary noted during a March meeting of the Louisville Digital Association, Louisville needs groups that bring together investors and entrepreneurs because “they don’t do the same things. They live different lifestyles. They don’t get together other than at events.”
So, we decided to create a guide to Louisville’s increasingly robust scene and include a broad spectrum of people – the apps designers, social networkers, esoteric tekkies, the money people, the management gurus, government leaders and people with the big vision of the future. And really, if not IL, then who? We want to be cheerleaders for the people and organizations that can change Louisville from a past its prime factory town to a city with roving bands of PhDs, management gurus, entrepreneurs, technical talent and dealmakers.
This is the beta version of that list because we don’t yet have the resources to corral everyone and make them give us their secret list of players. But think of this list as the anti-Forty-Under-Forty list – stripped of all the conventional thinkers; the hospital accountants, real estate agents and junior executives at Horseshoe casino.
What? We left off someone important?
Well, help us. We want to hear from you because this is the Internet. We can change, update and alter with a couple of keystrokes.
Give us your feedback on this:
Dale Boden: B.F. Capital/Yearling Fund CEO Boden is becoming a fixture wherever groups of entrepreneurs are pitching. Can he connect the new generation of Young Guns to Establishment that has been heavily medical/health-care focused?
Vik Chadha: Chadha is cofounder of Backupify with Rob May. Before that, Chadha started GlowTouch Technologies. Concurrent with that, he was Enterprise Corp managing director and direcrtor Louisville Innovation and Commercialization Center. Everyone knows him. Everyone we talked to put Chadha on the list of most accomplished Doers, not talkers. Virginia Polytechnic Institute grad.
Tendai Charasika, Director of the Innovation & Commercialization Center at EnterpriseCorp. A great guy to bounce ideas off of. A Summit Energy alum. Got both his chemical engineering degree and MBA at U of L.
Doug Cobb: Doug Cobb is probably the first person we viewed as “an entrepreneur” so many years ago, we didn’t quite know what it meant. Cobb started with The Cobb Group, which published guides to using the (pre-Apple/graphical based user interface) daunting personal computers, and sold to Ziff-Davis. His next big hit was VINE, a victim notification system, now Appriss. Right now, he’s the guy quietly shaping what comes next at GLI.
Chris Cprek, president of LVL1. Cprek and friends have brought together PhDs, engineering grads and top technical talent gathering regularly at one place, casually kicking around ideas that could lead to breakthrough innovations. LVL1 (pronounced “Level One”) is Louisville’s lone open-to-the-public tech cooperative, part of the hacker space phenomenon spreading around the world as micro-technologies get embedded into everyday mundane life.
Mark Crane: Crane was once head of GLI’s Enterprise Corp. Now he’s at University of Louisville Forcht Center for Entrepreneurship. We have a feeling it won’t be too long until he returns to GLI considering he’s the leading expert on angel investing, entrepreneurship and economic development. Good guy to know and Crane has powerful friends.
Dave Durand: Makes the list easily with Keepio, his on-line passion-sharing, merchandise exchange site, which made it through The Brandery in Cincinnati. Durand also runs Forest Giant digital marketing/advertising agency. Lives deep in the integrated development environments of Xcode and other stuff way, way above our pay grades.
Todd Earwood: Founder and CEO at Try It Local, a Louisville-based daily deal site that has a unique take on the popular niche. One of the many men and women who’ve been entrepreneurs since they were in diapers.
Jonathan Erwin and Patrick Goodman, RedeApp. Like most people deeply into tech, Erwin and Goodman see smartphones, not iPads or desktops, as the digital future. So far, they’re building a company on being right.
Jason Falls: The Godfather of social media put Louisville on the social media map starting with his gig at Doe Anderson as “social media explorer.” After about a year there, Falls took the SME moniker and went solo, wrote a book titled “No Shit Social Media,” made Fortune Magazine’s and everyone else’s lists of top national influences, then merged with Baltimore-based Full Frontal Media. Kind of fascinating just to see what he’ll do next ….
Jeff Fedor and Terry Geotz, cofounders and co-CEOs of Parkview/Monstro. Fedor and Geotz are that close to coming up with the right music formula. Monstro, which debuted at SXSW, aggregates data as people share music via social media. They figured out they can monetize this data because record labels are anxious to see how fans are engaging. Or something like that. But the Monstro site is cool as you can see real time how Carly Rae Jepsen is trending with music sharers. (Hint: Very well!!!)
Bobby Ferreri: Executive director of Louisville EnterpriseCorp., part of Greater Louisville Inc. Ferreri is a very polished operator who’s connected to everyone, knows who’s doing what and always makes it to events big and small. On the list despite the fact he’s tied to our retro friends at GLI, who are obsessed with finding the next Signature Health Care.
Mayor Greg Fischer: Fischer shows up for entrepreneur events and geek gatherings, talking with everyone, demonstrating a level of knowledge and vision far beyond the Jerry Abramsons and the Bruce Traughbers. We want to believe it’s a brand new day, but can Fischer execute?
Alex Frommeyer: Frommeyer, along with Dan Dykes and Alex Curry, founded Inven LLC when they were all 12 years old. Okay, they were in their early 20s, but still in J.B. Speed Engineering School. Their first invention, a dental tool designed to lower risk in root canals, won them a $10,000 prize from Business Innovation & Growth Center last year. Now, Frommeyer is CEO of Beam Technologies, which mates Bluetooth technology and an app to a toothbrush. We’re not kidding. See more here.
Jay Garmon: The Louisville-based marketing director at Boston-based Backupify, Garmon is a stalwart community technology advocate via his role as president of Louisville Digital Association. One of the few busy people who’s never too busy to stop and email or take a call. The host with the most at LDA events.
Steve Gailar: President and CEO of the MetaCyte Business Accelerator at the University of Louisville, advising numerous life science companies
Hunter Hammonds and Austin Cameron, Impulcity. Out of nowhere, these two 20-somethings come up with a smartphone application designed to make an evening out a seamless event, from buying tickets to hooking up with friends to sharing iPhone photos of My Morning Jacket at Forecastle Festival. AND, they get to tweak the idea this summer at The Brandery before hitting the market. They were instant stars last week at the Forge meeting. Stand back … this could be huge.
Jason Hiner, editor and chief at Tech Republic. Through Tech Republic, Hiner has national influence comparable to or greater than, Jason Falls. We know him as a visionary. Check out this post we did with Hiner’s tech predictions back in 2011. On the money.
Gill Holland: Entertainment impressario/developer Holland is not known for forays into tech or angel investing. But he is known for never passing up a promising investment opportunity. We’ll just say this – we met the Impulcity crew at The Green Building. What does that tell you?
David Jones, Jr., chairman of Chrysalis Ventures. Jones and his group have been tracking, finding and nurturing start-ups for decades. Major Louisville investments include Genscape, Appriss and Tech Republic. What is Jones looking for now? JD from Yale.
Lou Kelmanson: Kelmanson, who runs Kelmanson Holdings, is an active investor and angel investor. Invests in early stage companies currently generating revenue in the $500,000 – $15 million range, as well as in seed-stage enterprises requiring $100,000 to $1 million. Harvard grad.
Sterling Lapinski: Cofounder of Genscape with Sean (not Shawn) O’Leary, Lapinski remains Genscape president. But he’s also an angel investor.
Bill Lomicka: A partner with Dale Boden and Ty Wilburn at B.F. Capital/Yearling Fund.
Rob May, founder of Backupify. May is both an inspiration to Louisville’s tech community and a cautionary tale of how quickly a promising entrepreneur ran out of gas here, using up all Louisville had to offer in capital and talent before pulling up stakes and moving to Boston. May still goes out of his way to stay in contact with Louisville’s startups via LDA events.
Pat Mattingly: Per Doug Cobb – “If you’re including lawyers, you have to include Pat Mattingly of Wyatt Tarrant & Combs. Great deal lawyer and strongly connected to many great companies in Louisville.” Check out Mattingly’s Wyatt bio here.
Tom McMahan: Per Kent Oyler – An entrepreneurial CEO who founded and runs Louisville Angel Investor Network.
Sean O’Leary: Founder and former CEO of Genscape, the energy analysis business, Sean O’Leary now is crunching retail numbers with newBrand Analytics. Another guy who is a connector between the entrepreneurial side and the financial side.
Shawn O’Leary: Confusing, we know, but this a different O’Leary, senior director of Venture Finance, Kentucky Science & Technology Corp. O’Leary, based in Lexington, is a crucial link between this nonprofit corporation involved in assisting science, technology and innovative economic development and the new breed of entrepreneurs.
Kent Oyler, OPM Services: Oyler hit it big years ago with High Speed Access, a hugely successful Chrysalis exit. Since then, he’s never quit being an entrepreneur. A guy who always has time to listen to your idea. Oyler may not give you any money, but he’ll give you dead-on appraisal of your concept and your chances for success. Oyler is a sponsor of Forge events.
Bob Saunders: Saunders is retired from Chrysalis Ventures. But Saunders still makes it to the important gatherings of promising people. And when you read his resume, you realize the friendly, talkative Sauders probably has more investment cred than any other person in Louisville. Recruited to Bain and Co. by Mitt Romney. Senior VP of the Accumulation and Investment Group at the old Capital Holding Corp., which became Providian Capital Management. One of the deal makers in the sale of Providian to Aegon. Wow.
Stacy Servo and Amador Delatorre III, who created New2Lou, the social site/networking group that brings together new arrivals to our fair city. What’s brilliant about this is it can be expanded to every city that’s attracting new talent. Way cooool power couple and serious networkers.
Grace Simrall: Founder and CEO of iGlass Analytics and a Stored Values Systems alumnus. iGlass sifts through data, making sense of it for retailers, supply chain management and health care companies. We love her Twitter profile: big data wrangler, analytics alchemist, design nerd, maker, hacker, epicurean, gardener. “I ask *& answer* the questions that make peoples’ brains hurt.” Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy.
Ted Smith: Director, Department of Economic Growth and Innovation, Smith is the yin to departed GLI CEO Joe Reagan’s yang. Unlike Reagan, Smith comes from the entrepreneurial side, a former TechRepublic exec and founder of MediTrackAlert LLC, an interactive media company that provided health and prescription drug informational e-mails to subscribers. Like The Mayor, Smith shows up at big events and connects to the right people. But we’re still waiting to see something tangible come out of this.
Bill Strench: Strench is chairman of Frost Brown Todd’s Emerging Businesses and Venture Capital Group. But he’s more than that … he’s a guy with a reputation for earnest negotiation and a talent for showing competing parties the best path to the pot of gold at the end of a deal. Math degree from Vandy, JD from Yale.
Joe Wheeler, formerly with igNew Software Development and Consulting, Wheeler now is a consultant to companies building software for B2B and B2BC web and mobile applications. He has a decade of software product management experience with companies ranging from start-up to Fortune 50.
Phoebe Wood: Honestly, we’ve never met Wood, former Brown-Forman CFO, but we hear her name everywhere. She now has CompaniesWood, a consulting firm that specializes in early-stage angel investments. An MBA from UCLA.