“Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare." — Angela Duckworth
- A cure for cabin fever?
- Needed: Tech pros for an all-star team
- Pivoting to support healthcare startups
- GE invests $62M in Appliance Park
- Lou Water Co. gets the lead out
- Expanding tasty BBQ in South Louisville
- Cornbread Hemp closing on a round
- Accolades for 1si
July 21, 2020
A hometown solution for COVID cabin fever
Photo courtesy Activate Games
COVID-19 has stranded many of us at home, where we spend long hours attending Zoom meetings, scrolling through our Facebook feeds, and binging on Netflix. Bryce Anderson thinks he has the solution—not to the pandemic but to COVID cabin fever. It’s Activate Games, a business he cofounded last year.
Louisville Future caught up with Anderson recently to learn more about the business and how it’s faring during these strange times.
What is Activate Games?
Anderson: Activate is a live-action gaming experience. You come in with usually 3-5 friends, and there are 10 different micro-arenas in our 12,000-square-foot facility. There are multiple games in each room and multiple levels in each game. It’s almost like you’re put inside a video game.
Are all the games physically challenging?
Anderson: The games are divided into physical, tactile, or mental challenges. We want to engage all people. Some people, even within one group, may be really good at the physical, some people may be really good at hand-eye coordination, and some people may be great at trivia.
Who’s your target market?
Anderson: I’d say it’s 10 to 50 or 55 years old. It would be harder for someone who’s 70 to play these games, but my dad, who’s 67, came up with me and my brothers a few months ago, and he loved it. We have a birthday party package and we also do corporate outings, but those are challenging right now because people aren’t at the office.
How were things before COVID-19?
Anderson: We opened in the first week of December and really had a lot of things going. At the end of February we had a lot of schools that were coming through. We basically built out a whole program based on the physical education requirements for elementary, middle, and high school. So we had a lot of momentum going. And then COVID.
How are things going in the new normal?
Anderson: Right now, we’re allowing 10 people every half-hour to come in to our experience; I think it’s like a quarter of our official capacity. We used to allow people to pay when they got there and also pay with cash; now we’re having everyone pay online. We’re cleaning it often. We’re asking people to wear masks.
We don’t know what the fall is going to look like, but if we can be open and have at least some people experience it, that’s better than being closed completely. The goal is to break even until COVID is over. That’s kind of what most businesses we talk to are saying. No one’s trying to be profitable in this time; we’re all just trying to stay alive.
Why is Activate Games in Louisville?
Anderson: I’m based in Lexington, and with Breakout Games (his other company), we have 38 locations around the U.S. from Dallas to Boston. But Louisville we see as our home test market. As it succeeds in Louisville, we expect to grow and open other locations throughout the country. But success in Louisville is the thing we’re working on now.
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Join Hive Networks’ mission-driven all-star team
Why is it that healthcare is one of the only sectors that doesn’t use some sort of social network to help patients with chronic conditions share data, analytics, and ways of making small incremental improvements in their daily lives?
That was the question successful Cincinnati entrepreneur and CincyTech executive in residence John Bostick asked himself. And that’s how Hive Networks came to be. “Hive Networks is on a mission. To help people get better faster. Very simple.” Bostick said.
The platform leverages data from all sources about a patient and supports a continuous learning process where patients and their families, clinicians and their teams, researchers and their staffs all contribute to the best health outcome for the patient.
According to Scott Roth, CTO of Hive Networks, it “has the potential to rapidly and organically grow into one of the largest healthcare software platforms in the world.”
The company is carefully looking for some 'A players' to add to its team. Bostick said, “We want players who are used to working with other top performers with minimal direction. Players who are truly committed to our mission.”
If you are a Full-Stack Software Engineer with 3-5 years of experience, a DevOps expert who is used to making a difference, or have an interest as a Business Intelligence Engineer, you can find detailed requirements for the jobs here.
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New effort offers support to healthcare startups
Two organizations in Louisville are pitching in to offer support to local healthcare startups and the broader local startup ecosystem. The Louisville Healthcare CEO Council and the University of Louisville’s Office of Research and Innovation have come together to bring two new support efforts to local entrepreneurs: LEAP and Amplify Louisville.
LEAP will offer resources like educational series, networking events, and mentorships specifically catering to healthcare startups. That includes a corporate innovation center, which provides training for healthcare startups and mentorships with top healthcare executives from titans of Louisville’s healthcare industry, including CEOs of companies like Kindred, Humana, Norton Healthcare, Anthem, and Baptist Healthcare. Startups will also gain access to the University of Louisville’s entrepreneurs-in-residence program.
The other effort, Amplify Louisville, will focus on the broader startup ecosystem and provide programming and capital for non-industry-specific startups in Louisville. “I’m excited to continue supporting entrepreneurs, innovators, and founders ranging from napkin sketch to Series A,” said Amplify executive director Larry Horn.
OLD COMPANIES, NEW ADVANCES
GE’s Appliance Park has major expansion plans
GE Appliances has announced that it will invest $62 million in the expansion of its 750-acre complex in Louisville. Three of its big manufacturing plants will be adding 260 jobs and beefing up assembly lines to produce washers, dryers, dishwashers, and refrigerators. The expansion is expected to be finished by Q1 2021.
The goal is to add jobs, develop new models, and enable long-term growth, especially as consumers—who are staying at home more during the pandemic and relying on their appliances more as a result—look for features such as sanitation cycles on washers and dishwashers and high-end four-door refrigerators.
The company is investing $19 million in upgrading the dishwasher facility and $43 million in the refrigeration plant.
Louisville marks lead-removal milestone
The Louisville Water Company has completed a 50-year, $50 million project to remove lead water pipes from the city. The utility has removed approximately 74,000 lead service lines in the project, which began in the 1970s.
Lead was long prized for its use in plumbing because it is malleable and cheap. But in the 1930s people began to understand that lead posed serious health risks, and communities began to ban the use of lead in plumbing. Unfortunately, millions of service lines already installed still remain in communities all over the US. According to the Louisville Water Company, only a few water utilities in the country have removed all their lead service lines.
With the project complete, the company is now setting its sights on the small percentage of customers who have lead water lines going from the street to their homes. The water company has identified about 800 customers who own a private lead service line and will split the cost to have it removed by a licensed plumber. The company also offers free lead test kits that customers can request.
Back Deck BBQ to open restaurant in South Louisville
After five years of operating his Back Deck BBQ food truck, teacher-turned-barbecue-maestro Chan Nelson will be opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant in the South End. The truck has become so popular it has trouble keeping up with demand. The current smoker capacity—54 slabs of pork ribs, 150 pounds of brisket, 900 wings, eight slabs of beef ribs, two cases of rib tips, and 40 pounds of pulled pork—sells out within five hours. Sometimes less.
The new restaurant will be located across from Colonial Gardens and Iroquois Park. And because the building requires some renovation and new equipment purchases, Nelson launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund those expenses. It hit its first goal of $25,000 in two weeks, and Nelson is now shooting for $50,000 so he can operate the business without debt.
The plan is to open the restaurant next April, with indoor seating for around 40 people and an outdoor space for 70. “Given that we have the name Back Deck BBQ, I wanted to make sure that our outside dining was the main attraction," he said.
Checking in with Cornbread Hemp
You could say that Jim Higdon literally wrote the book on marijuana. In 2013, he published Cornbread Mafia, a narrative nonfiction book about a group of Kentucky men who created the largest domestic marijuana production operation in United States history.
The success of the book led to Jim's covering cannabis policy for POLITICO, the Washington Post, and other outlets. His reputation as a cannabis journalist led him to the opportunity to launch Cornbread Hemp, which sells CBD oil for use in easing symptoms of many common health issues, including anxiety, depression, acne, and heart disease.
He and business partner Eric Zipperle are closing out a funding round this August. They’re already raised $261,116 and are giving potential investors the opportunity to get in on their company, which is selling products that were the first ones to be made to the standards of the USDA certified organic program in the state.
You can check out their WeFunder page here.
One Southern Indiana receives Chamber of the Year award
The Indiana Chamber Executives Association (ICEA) has recognized One Southern Indiana (1si) with its 2020 Chamber of the Year award. 1si received this honor based on an impressive track record of accomplishments. Last year, the organization reached 80 percent of its goal of $50 million in capital investment, saw 584 jobs created, with new job wages of $32.26 per hour, and relaunched an insurance program for its members, among other things.
When COVID-19 hit, 1si launched 1si Cares, which comprises three programs to help local companies survive the business impacts of the pandemic.
Wendy Dant Chesser, president and CEO of 1si, praised the team, saying, "Being recognized by ICEA as the Chamber of the Year is a great honor which is entirely due to the professionalism, dedication, and enthusiasm of the entire staff. Appreciation for their hard work, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, is well deserved and I want to thank them for all they do."
Photo courtesy UofL Digital Archives, Caufield & Shook Collection
Most locals recognize the building at the northeast corner of Third and Market as the home of The Old Spaghetti Factory. But do you know that the building itself is one of the most important examples of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture in Louisville?
Designed by Charles J. Clarke and Arthur Loomis, the building was featured in the American Architect and Building News of October 21, 1893. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Initially, it was used to accommodate Levy’s (owned by Moses and Henry Levy), which became one of the most popular department stores in the city. Levy’s occupied the space for almost 90 years. In addition to its architectural importance, it was also known as one of the first structures in Louisville to be fitted with electricity.
The building was renovated in 1984. The first two floors became a restaurant, while the floors above became residential apartments.