Last week, Kent Oyler, president and CEO of Greater Louisville Inc., announced Terry Gill as the new leader of EnterpriseCorp, the division of the organization that works with startup and fast-growth — or “gazelle” — companies. The position had been vacant since Tendai Charasika’s departure in April.
Originally from Chicago, Gill moved to Louisville when he was a kid. (Of course we asked: He went to Ballard High.) He attended the University of Kentucky and has a bachelor’s degree in marketing with a minor in economics.
Gill served as the entrepreneur-in-residence and managing director for Access Ventures Capital, a venture capital philanthropy group, in the years before moving to GLI. Prior to that, he served as president and CEO of FetterGroup, a company he purchased and eventually sold in 2013.
Several months ago, Gill reached out to Oyler to discuss alternative forms of funding. Oyler is a big crowdfunding proponent, and one of Access Ventures’ undertakings has been to bring Kiva, a crowd-loaning platform, to Louisville. It was a couple months later that Oyler realized Gill would be a good fit for EnterpriseCorp.
Why is Gill a good fit? He’s owned and run a business here, and he “understands the needs of entrepreneurs.”
Gill told us that since 2010, the number of startups with one to 10 employees has gone up 50 percent, but later-stage startups have remained static. And, he said, “They have the same fundamental problems as small companies.” Problems like finding talent and accessing capital.
At Access Ventures, his job was to identify companies in the region that needed an equity infusion and help keep them local. Gill stressed the importance of matching companies to the right source of capital, not just any funding. “Capital sources can make you better.”
When we asked Gill how familiar he was with EnterpriseCorp’s work, he said he didn’t realize how many services they offered. He’d never really thought to reach out to EnterpriseCorp. Even though his company was a member of GLI, he said, “It’s hard to be concrete about how GLI contributes” and that both GLI and EnterpriseCorp were “underutilized assets.”
As a former business owner, Gill feels like he comes from a different perspective than his two most recent predecessors, Charasika and Bobby Ferreri. When an entrepreneur comes to him with problems, he says he can tell them, “I know exactly how you feel,” because he’s probably encountered the same issues in the past.
He praised his EnterpriseCorp team’s collaborative efforts and called Assistant Director Nicole Eovino and Director Lisa Bajorinas the organization’s “institutional knowledge.”
The day Insider talked to Gill was also the day of his first board meeting. He said he was only being asked to introduce himself, not give his master plan for the future of EnterpriseCorp. But he intends to charge forward with the Advantage Louisville strategic plan’s focus on entrepreneurism and innovation as key economic development elements.
We also managed to tease these goals out of him:
- Promoting and marketing entrepreneurship in Louisville
- Attracting young, smart people to Louisville
- Identifying and increasing access to capital
- Matching people with the right capital
- Working on the “vibe” — more and different co-working spaces, for example
- Delivering “measurable and meaningful” results
- Continuing EnterpriseCorp’s efforts with corporate engagement and intrapreneurship
He said that with this position, as with being in a startup, sometimes you’ll get something wrong. And that’s OK, but you have to learn to recognize it quickly and pivot. He understands he has a bit of a learning curve.
“Parachuting in, guns blazing, was just not going to work,” he said. “But things have to happen quickly … you can hold me to that statement.”
And we will. We promised to check back in with him in 90 days to hear about his progress.