The annual EnterpriseCorp Signature Event on Wednesday celebrated achievements in the entrepreneurial community over the past year. For the second year in a row, Greater Louisville Inc. CEO Kent Oyler had to give the “state of entrepreneurship” address in lieu of the head of EnterpriseCorp, the division of GLI focused on startups.
Just before last year’s event, Tendai Charasika stepped down as director of EnterpriseCorp to become CEO of SuperFanU; and earlier this month, Charasika’s successor, Terry Gill, stepped down to join the private sector in Cincinnati.
“Sorry, ladies,” said Oyler, apologizing for Gill’s absence.
After taking a selfie with the crowd and introducing the EnterpriseCorp team, Oyler immediately hit on the highlights of the past year:
- $4.8 million has been put into the Enterprise Angels Community Fund.
- Louisville became the ninth Kiva City in the country.
- We became the third Endeavor Investor Network city in the country. (A fund that is backed by “certified rich guys,” said Oyler.)
- Interapt became a Google Glass company.
- Fantasy Hub and GearBrake were both accepted at Tech Stars accelerators.
- Five local companies had major exits: Stonestreet One, Deyta, OPM Financial, NicView and Indatus.
- GLI launched Advantage Louisville 2020, a five-year strategic plan.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” said Oyler, before concluding with this call to action: “We need to shake shit up.”
Kentucky Innovation Network Lisa Bajorinas presented mentor and investor Greg Langdon with the annual Signature Award. Despite being “a man without a job,” said Bajorinas, Langdon has been involved with Velocity, Startup Weekend, XLerateHealth and Nucleus LaunchIt, and is a board member of EnterpriseCorp and Venture Connectors.
Langdon said, “I just show up wherever there is free coffee.” He thanked EnterpriseCorp, fellow mentors and the “courageous” local startup founders.
Ross Baird, who developed Village Capital in 2009, was the keynote speaker. He reminded Oyler that while Louisville was the ninth Kiva City and third Endeavor city, it was the first for the Village Capital agriculture accelerator.
Baird is a huge cheerleader for the city and is convinced that we can be “the next great startup city” as long as we jump on “the Triple Crown” of trends: the democratization of entrepreneurship (building upon your location, assets and people), the rise of impact investing, and inclusive entrepreneurship (i.e., entrepreneurship as a “team sport”).
According to Baird, Velocity 2.0 should have a sector focus. He also said Louisville is behind the curve when it comes to corporate and institution support of entrepreneurs.
“We’re in the age of talentism not capitalism,” said Baird. Talent no longer follows money, but the other way around. Baird said it is important to have ample housing and workspace for entrepreneurs and talent.
The GLI Signature Event was held at the Mercury Ballroom. It previously had been scheduled for July 13 but was postponed due to predictions of dangerous weather that never materialized.