Louisville’s entrepreneurship community is hosting its first Techstars Startup Week, in which local entrepreneurs or those interested in entrepreneurship and startups can come to learn about the local startup community.

The event overlaps with Global Entrepreneurship Week, which Louisville has been participating in for years, said Ellie Puckett of EnterpriseCorpStartup Week is a week of startup business activities branded by Techstars, a national organization. Each city’s Startup Week is on a different week, but Louisville’s overlaps the two.

“They’re really not that different,” said Puckett, the Commercialization Director for Customer Engagement for EnterpriseCorp. “It’s just a different brand, and we are getting recognized as a Techstars city.”

Big event canceled

Originally, the week was scheduled to begin with Startup Weekend, an event in which people spend one weekend or 54 hours coming up with business ideas, hashing them out and pitching them on Sunday night. In Louisville, it’s held twice a year. The most recent winner of Startup Weekend was a six-person team that created a tracking device called Pascal that worked without battery power.

This fall, Startup Weekend was supposed to specialize in health care companies, but there just weren’t enough entries to make it work, said lead organizer Austin Lopesilvero.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t get the turnout we needed to put on the extraordinary event we typically offer,” he said. “We’ll be back in the spring.”

Ellie Puckett, commercialization director at EnterpriseCorp, and Greg Landon, chair of the Vogt Awards selection committee, discussed the accelerated program in which the award winners participate, in 2017’s Vogt Awards Demo Day.| Photo by Lisa Hornung

A full week of events

Despite the setback, Startup Week continues with several opportunities to get involved, Puckett said, and most of them are free. There are workshops, which help entrepreneurs learn about sales and using Google to help your business, as well as pitch contests and networking opportunities.

The Vogt Awards Demo Day on Tuesday is probably the biggest event of the week, Puckett said, “But it depends on who you are. Demo Day is free, and it’s a great event that is a showcase. But some startups are really needing assistance, and that’s where the workshops come in. And some people just have an interest in the community, which would be better for Open Coffee. ‘What is the startup community?’ ‘Well, come have coffee and find out.’”

Puckett said the week is exciting because it brings more awareness about the thriving Louisville startup community.

“We get some interest from outside groups and people who may not normally get involved or even know that there is a startup community,” she said.

“There’s probably tons of people in Louisville that are interested in startups or even have an idea and they don’t know where to begin,” Puckett added. “By putting tons of events together in one week, it brings an energy that allows for more people to hear and know what we’re doing and get involved. Not everyone might need a sales workshop, but they might be interested in learning what early-stage investing is, and so they might go to the Vogt Awards to see what early stage companies look like. So it touches everyone in the startup community.”

Schedule of events

The events are listed below and on the StartupLouisville website.

Schedule Nov. 9-16. Events are free unless indicated.

  • 5-8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9 — Open Beer, Against the Grain Brewery and Smokehouse, 401 E. Main St. Local entrepreneurs are invited for an evening of conversation.
  • 12:15 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10 — Ballard Morton New Venture Competition, University of Louisville College of Business, Horn Auditorium. U of L MBA teams will pitch their business concepts for the chance at a $15,000 prize.
  • 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13 — Open Coffee at iHub, 204 S. Floyd St.
  • 8:30 a.m. – Noon Tuesday, Nov. 13 — Google’s Get Your Business Online workshop, Park Community Credit Union, 2515 Blankenbaker Parkway.
  • 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Tuesday — Vogt Awards Demo Day, Ice House, 226 E. Washington St. Six local startups pitch their concepts.
  • Noon-2 p.m. Wednesday — EnterpriseCorp’s Startup Sales workshop, 1804 Entrepreneur Center, 744 E. Market St. A workshop providing a high-level overview of sales processes, strategies and tools presented by Tim O’Connor. It’s intended for tech-enabled startups that are about to or have just started selling products and services. $5, includes lunch.
  • 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14. — Persistence — My Secret Weapon for Success. Signarama, 909 E. Market St. Presented by the Network of Entrepreneurial Women. $10, includes appetizers and wine. Speaker is Maggie Harlow, owner of Signarama.
  • 5-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14 — Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame, Griffin Gate Marriott, Lexington. An event to honor the stories of Kentucky’s most successful entrepreneurs. $125, $50 for students, includes dinner and a cash bar.
  • 5-7 pp.m. Thursday, Nov. 15 —Core KPIs for Saas Businesses, at 1804. Presented by Greg Langdon, angel investor and startup mentor.

Lisa Hornung a native of Louisville and has worked in local media for more than 15 years as a writer and editor. Before that she worked as a writer, editor and photographer for community newspapers in Kansas, Ohio and Kentucky. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Georgia, and after a 20-year career in journalism, she obtained a master’s degree in history from Eastern Kentucky University in 2016.


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