Gov. Beshear Announces Statewide Pitch Competitions for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Commonwealth of Kentucky
Cabinet for Economic Development
Steve Beshear
Old Capitol Annex
300 West Broadway
Frankfort, KY 40601
Larry Hayes
May 28th 2014
For Immediate Release
Joe Hall
Terry Sebastian
Gov. Beshear Announces Statewide Pitch Competitions for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
Winners will receive cash prizes to start their businesses, gain access to angel investors

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 28, 2014) – Imagine having 10 minutes to pitch your business idea to a group of investors who could make your dream come true. Sound like a reality show? It is reality, right here in Kentucky.

Governor Steve Beshear today announced the state will host eight regional pitch competitions this summer. Similar to the hit television show “Shark Tank,” these competitions will feature Kentucky entrepreneurs presenting their business ideas to a group of local angel investors, individuals who provide capital for startup companies. Winners will receive cash prizes and the opportunity to present their business plans to the entire Kentucky Angel Investors Network (Kentucky Angels) in Frankfort.

“The next great idea can come from anyone,” said Gov. Beshear. “As a state, we need to support these visionaries and provide them the tools to turn their vision into a reality, including the financial means to get started. I look forward to seeing more small businesses and new jobs come to life as a result of these competitions.”

The events will take place in Ashland, Pikeville, Murray, Elizabethtown, Richmond, Covington, Lexington and Louisville.

“Small businesses are job creators and the backbone of Kentucky’s economy,” said Mandy Lambert, acting commissioner of business development at the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. “This is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to network with potential investors and get their businesses off the ground. We want to expose more people to investment opportunities right here in the Commonwealth.”

The competition is sponsored by the Office of Entrepreneurship within the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, along with the Kentucky Angels Network and the Kentucky Innovation Network.

“These regional events help form the foundation for a statewide network of entrepreneurs and investors working together to create new businesses and jobs across the Commonwealth,” said Dean Harvey, executive director of the Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship in the Gatton College of Business and Economics at the University of Kentucky.

The pitch competitions will make the following appearances:

  • Ashland: June 3, 2014, Ignite Accelerator, 1100 Greenup Ave., 5 p.m.-7 p.m.
  • Pikeville: June 10, 2014, Coleman College of Business, UPIKE, 5 p.m.-7 p.m.
  • Murray: June 17, 2014, Heritage Hall, Murray State University, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
  • Elizabethtown: June 19, 2014, Brown-Pusey House, 128 North Main St., 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
  • Richmond: June 20, 2014, Central Bank Community Room, 350 West Main St., 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
  • Louisville: July 23, 2014, Greater Louisville Inc., 614 West Main St., Suite 6000, 4 p.m.-5:30 p.m.
  • Covington: TBD
  • Lexington: Sept. 24, 2014, Commerce Lexington, 330 East Main St., Suite 100, 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.

For more information on the competition, visit

Last year, the Cabinet successfully launched the Kentucky Angels Network. Kentucky Angels brings new ventures and accredited investors together via monthly online meetings, providing investors access to form deals and partnerships with entrepreneurs statewide. Membership is open to those accredited investors in and outside the state who are passionate about investing in Kentucky companies. To learn more about Kentucky Angels, visit

Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at Fans of the Cabinet for Economic Development can also join the discussion on Facebook at or follow on Twitter Watch the Cabinet’s “This is My Kentucky” video on YouTube.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development is the primary state agency in Kentucky responsible for encouraging new jobs and investment in the state. New capital investment announced in Kentucky in 2013 totaled more than $3.3 billion, spurring more than 14,000 projected new jobs. Information on available industrial properties, workforce development assistance, incentive programs, community profiles, small business development and other economic development resources is available at


Innovation Network promotes angel investment

Originally posted

By: Johnathan Gay

A critical component of an entrepreneurial-economy is investment-capital; specifically, equity financing. Equity financing differs from debt financing in a couple of fundamental ways. Check payday loans uk.

First, it’s not a loan repaid per a rigorous schedule. With equity funding, investors buy a percentage of the company. In most instances, they expect to be repaid when the company’s value increases and their shares are sold.

Another difference is the lack of traditional collateral. Go to the bank and request a loan and you’ll expect to pledge collateral- your home, real-property, other tangible assets… With equity financing, an investor is taking a chance on the entrepreneur’s ability to execute and other intangible “assets”, such as a patent or a company’s good name.

A third difference is in the nature of the investors. To borrow money, you typically go to a bank. If you want equity investment, you’ll probably start your search with a fairly wealthy individual- usually someone who is a successful entrepreneur. Ask most folks where you get equity financing and Venture Capital firms would be a frequent answer. A more likely source would be so-called “Angel Investors.” Wikipedia defines an angel investor as “an affluent individual who provides capital for a business start-up, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity.”

Equity investment allows entrepreneurs several advantages over traditional debt. Many entrepreneurs would struggle to borrow capital through traditional means. Oftentimes, they lack collateral and even after the investment would struggle to pay a monthly loan. Another plus for equity financing is that it can bring needed experience to the table: investors often seek a seat on the company’s board and lend their experience and connections to making a venture a success.

In the Bluegrass state, no organization has worked to promote “Angel Investing” like the Kentucky Innovation Network. Its staff has been the critical catalyst for investor networks in Lexington, Louisville and Northern Kentucky. More recently, the network has been focused on extending this investment statewide, including to East Kentucky. In November, Governor Beshear launched the Kentucky Angel Investors Network. KAIN is an online network connecting Kentucky entrepreneurs to potential investors via web based meetings held monthly.

In Ashland, the network has been working to create East Kentucky’s first Angel Investment fund. Mick Fosson, our Director there, was recently recognized for his work by the Appalachian Regional Commission. Once this network is formed, it will provide a forum for entrepreneurs to pitch to area investors.

In June, our network will be working to promote Angel Investing across the region. Starting in Ashland and continuing with events in Richmond, London and Pikeville, we’ll be hosting what we’re calling “The Kentucky Angel Investors Regional Pitch Competition.” These events will allow local entrepreneurs a chance to hone their presentation skills in front of actual “qualified investors.” Winners receive cash prizes and- hopefully- position themselves for future investment.

An entrepreneurial-economy requires an entrepreneurial-ecosystem. Equity financing is a key component. It’s exciting to be a part of the network that’s leading the way in creating this ecosystem in Kentucky.

Johnathan Gay is the Director of the Kentucky Innovation Network at Morehead. He provides free business assistance to area entrepreneurs. To learn more, visit or contact Johnathan at 606-783-9536.

GearBrake: Add Intelligence to Your Brake Lights



A client of the Louisville Innovation Network office,  GearBrake provides a new level of safety to motorcyclist on the road.  Riders already know that motorcycles are able to rapidly slow down without using brakes by downshifting and engine braking – but the rest of us are left in the dark since this action doesn’t light up a bike’s brake lights.

That’s where GearBrake comes into play. Their patent pending module can sense deceleration and will automatically flash the brake lights.

A winner for everyone on the road.

Founder & CEO Chris Bailey and COO Jason Harrington already have GearBrake in two retail locations in Kentucky and Indiana.  Look for this and other riding-related products from GearBrake as they expand their company and try to meet the needs of bikers across the US.

Team-Shipping    Product Pic

Ignite set to build small businesses


Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)
May 21, 2014

Ignite set to build small businesses
Tim Preston
The Independent

ASHLAND — Marty Myers reaped the rewards of hard work as a young boy, helping his grandparents pick and sell loads of Silver Queen corn each summer, and says those lessons continue to inspire him to help others build businesses and be their own boss.

“The story starts when I was much younger,” Myers said, sitting in the massive second floor space where he has opened Ignite Ashland KY, to serve as an entrepreneurial community, business incubator and shared workspace for small business owners and operators.

Myers said he and his grandparents sold their corn door to door in Flatwoods, and used the proceeds to pay for an annual vacation trip visiting Kentucky’s state parks in an RV.

“It instilled values that carried over,” he said. “A make-your-own-way kind of mentality.”

A 1997 graduate of Greenup High School, Myers and his wife, Erica, are co-owners of the Orange Leaf frozen yogurt shop at Ashland Center, where they recently earned the 2014 Northeast Kentucky Small Business Award for New Business of the Year. Myers said the basic concept for Ignite Ashland KY was the direct result of his research while working to open Orange Leaf.

“There were a lot of questions and roadblocks that I kept running into without a person to ask,” he said, explaining he began thinking of a place where startup businesses and entrepreneurs could turn to for answers and resources. Working with Mick Fosson at ACTC and Jonathan Gay at the Morehead State as part of the state’s Innovation Center network, Ignite Ashland KY opened on the second floor of the building at 1100 Greenup Ave. that houses Hope’s Place, where his church formerly met.

“It fit perfectly with what we’re trying to do,” he said, pointing out the space has been furnished to provide an “eco-system for entrepreneurs and startups.”

With absolutely nothing else in the area to compare it to, Myers said “I get a lot of blank stares when I explain the concept.”

According to the business’ Facebook page, “Ignite is a cooperative working space and startup incubator in downtown Ashland. Cooperative working spaces allow potential business owners and innovative entrepreneurs to jumpstart their business by offering benefits that you can’t get at any other location. By eliminating the up-front cost and monthly expenses of maintaining a single occupant office and being located in the “one stop” for anyone wanting to start a business, we promise to provide the tools unique to success in business.

“Our partners, the Ashland Community & Technical College Innovation Center, the Small Business Development Center and other local professionals representing various industries pertinent to creating a new business (banking, accounting, investors and attorneys) are coming together to provide the business services you need all under one roof.”

With numerous desks, file cabinets and other resources, Ignite Ashland KY will serve as an office away from home for some small business operators, he said, while the conference room and other spaces will provide additional options, including training programs, to benefit small businesses. The center hopes to launch a program for local young people, he notes, providing basic video game development and programming skills for area middle school and high school students.

The center will also host a “pitch contest” starting in June, he said, with professional judges evaluating business concepts, or “pitches,” and rewarding the top two with a $1,000 and $500 prize. The top winner will advance to statewide competition, with judges including Gov. Steve Beshear and a $10,000 grand prize.

Beyond basic training and essential business resources, Myers said he hopes Inspire Ashland KY will serve a higher purpose and teach young people in the area they have options they may not have considered.

“A problem in this area is young people grow up and ask ‘What big company am I going to go work for?’ I want to break that mold a little bit. I want them to ask, ‘What kind of company or product can I create to create jobs?’”

For more information about Ignite Ashland KY, visit, email or call (606) 923-8342.

Ignite FB logo


FedEx and Space Tango collaborate on FedEx Space Solutions


20 May 2014

FedEx and Space Tango collaborate on FedEx Space Solutions

From FedEx Media Advisory…Today, FedEx launched the FedEx® Space Desk, a one-stop shop for space industry customers seeking information about shipping everything from satellites and related subsystems to biomedical materials bound for testing or use in space. Read More.

Space Tango Contact: Kris Kimel, or 859.229.6161.


Space Tango Announces Selected Companies for Space Business Accelerator


16 May 2014

Space Tango Announces Selected Companies for Space Business Accelerator

Space Tango (, which is implementing the nation’s first space business accelerator specifically for space enterprises and entrepreneurs, today announced the three companies selected for the inaugural program slated to begin in July 2014.

The Space Tango Accelerator is designed for space-driven startups with a goal of helping new and growing businesses to innovate and develop novel applications for diverse markets.

The companies were selected following an extensive review process based on the nature of their ideas, business model, management and execution team. Each company will receive a modest equity investment and work with an experienced and diverse team of advisors to successfully build out their enterprise.

The companies participating in the program are:

Vinvell, based out of Austin, Texas, is an international technology development and services company specializing in the space industry. The company’s work includes developing the next generation STEM based educational material for colleges, high schools and middle schools utilizing space and space experimentation as the basis for advanced project design and access to space for their customers.

ConsiNet, headquartered in Morehead, Kentucky, is a ground station service provider for the rapidly growing global small satellite marketplace. ConsiNet is developing a unique network of ground stations to assist missions in achieving robust space to ground communications.

Aeolus AeroTech Pvt Ltd (AAT), based in Bangalore, India, is a research to product company that provides turnkey technical solutions and products in the field of advanced laboratory equipment, avionics and space sectors. It the first Indian private company to develop COTS products for CubeSat and related microsatellite missions.
About Space Tango LLC
Space Tango ( is a for-profit enterprise headquartered in Kentucky, focused primarily on the entrepreneurial space marketplace. The company’s capabilities include CubeSat class and other micro-satellite and subsystems, satellite ground operations, spacecraft design and testing and the development of novel technology and experiments for the International Space Station (ISS).

Commuted to a highly collaborative business strategy, Space Tango works closely with a number of other dynamic companies, universities and organizations. These collaborators include Kentucky Space LLC (, the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.

For additional information contact Kris W. Kimel at or 859-229-6161.


Tech-Startup Announces The Wallet of The Future


Lexington, KY, April 22, 2014 − Skipping Stone Technologies (“SST”) has announced the launch of its new smartphone case and accessory line. The product line, called kit-case, is a unique platform of integrated and modular accessories for smartphones. Each kit-case is custom-made to order using Shapeways 3D print technology. 



Unlike existing smartphone accessories on the market, kit-case accessories are ‘green’ and compatible with different handsets and brands — including future models — thereby reducing accessory obsolescence. Christopher Manzo, AIA, and CEO of SST, said, “kit-case changes the way we use and interact with smart technology. By allowing you to seamlessly carry a group of frequently needed lifestyle and device accessories, kit-case is the only wallet you will need! The kit-case accessory possibilities are endless and you don’t have to throw your accessories away when you upgrade your smartphone. We’re initially offering kit-case with the most popular accessories and building out our product line from there.”

kit-case products are made-to-order via 3D printing and come in four color choices and multiple combinations. As SST expands the kit-case brand, additional accessories will be developed, facilitating ongoing technology adoption and customization. SST is the first smartphone case and accessory company to exclusively use 3D print technology – for a demonstration of 3D print manufacturing:

kit-case is available for the following smartphones:

  • iPhone 5S
  • Samsung Galaxy S4
  • Samsung NOTE and NOTE 3
  • Nexus 5
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (in development)
  • HTC M8 (in development)

 Accessories available for kit-case include:

  • Slim Wallet – holds 4 plastic, 2 bills, 6 biz cards, and a house key
  • Ultra Slim Wallet – holds 4 plastic, 2 bills, 2 biz cards
  • Clip – for hands free driving, belt, purse, or money clip
  • Lego Adaptor – for stands, mounts, and robots
  • Earbud Holder (in development)
  • Mobile Arduino Case (in development)
  • Photography Mount (in development)
  • Stands and a multi-tool (in development)
  • Back-up battery/ USB cord (in development)

Formed in April 2012, Skipping Stone Technologies, LLC, is a Missouri-registered and Lexington, Kentucky-based company. SST designs innovative products addressing opportunities in the smartphone accessory market. For more information about kit-case, as well as design images of the products, visit the company’s store:  For more information regarding SST, contact Christopher Manzo at (314) 954-1648, or Media contact: Harris Consulting Services,

kit2           kit3

Bucks for Bright Ideas 2014 Competition

The 2014 Bucks for Bright Ideas competition, a program of the Bowling Green, Elizabethtown and Owensboro offices of the Kentucky Innovation Network, is funded by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. The Cabinet, along with the Kentucky Innovation Network, works to cultivate an entrepreneurial and small business support system through an array of programs, initiatives and partnerships benefiting entrepreneurs, small business owners and knowledge-based start-up entities. The Bucks for Bright Ideas program encourages entrepreneurs to move their “bright ideas” forward toward commercialization.

The annual competition concluded on May 7, 2014, with an awards dinner held at the WKU Center for Research and Development in Bowling Green. The event was attended by approximately 150 contest entrants and guests. Over $40,000 in donated services from 18 regional sponsors was presented to 23 award winners, which included three high school and six university applicants. All applicants, not just award winners, were encouraged to work with the Kentucky Innovation Network in an effort to turn their “bright idea” into a business reality.



Carity brings resources and hope to caregiver community


Casey Pruden is no stranger to the emotional strains that developmental disabilities can bring upon families. As the brother of a special needs individual, Casey continually encountered issues with efficiency in terms of quality care and the ability for families and caregivers to share information in an accessible manner. Emboldened by a desire to help these families, Casey founded Carity in 2013. Carity is an application business that provides a full-service platform to better monitor and evaluate the daily lives of individuals with disabilities.  Carity’s service methodology allows a family member, doctor, or caregiver to input information efficiently about the behavior of disabled individuals. Focusing on care for patients has provided Carity with a competitive advantage by allowing for all types of disabilities to be monitored at the point of incidence while detailed personal information is stored securely.

At its inception, Carity was conceived to allow users to input information efficiently within a centralized platform. Following consultation and coaching with Emerging Ventures, the company has gained access to service providers, application development, and was a winner of the 2013 “Bucks for Bright Ideas” Contest.

“Working with Owensboro Innovation Office provides valuable information regarding my startup process, advice, leads for potential clients, and encouragement throughout my journey to bring the enrichment and benefits of Carity to not only caregivers, but those which they serve,” said Mr. Pruden.

Carity will soon release its mobile application to congregate behavioral information. The ultimate goal for the business is to leverage mobile applications to further enhance in-home clinical experiences and to drive behavioral analytics. The company has begun an aggressive capital raise to enhance its market share.

Look for the launch of their app later this year.


Idea State U: Helping Startups From Head to Toe


Originally posted by Awesome Inc., May 7, 2014

Over the past half decade Idea State U has helped over 100 startups get off the ground.  Some have gone on to thrive thanks to the guidance and funding provided by the contest.  This article features the success story of Kyle O’Donnell, a graduate of Western Kentucky University’s MBA program and a winner of Idea State U’s 2013 competition. After deciding against the idea for an ‘underwear-renting’ business, he went on to start an organic clothing line, won his division at Idea State U, and subsequently became one of Idea State U’s greatest success stories.  In this interview, he shares his new idea, his story, what life is like as an entrepreneur, and how he decided to make undergarments instead of rent them.


Only Footprints sells socks.  What makes your product stand out  and what’s the bigger idea behind it?

Well, the major difference is organic and eco-friendly.  For example, this past week you may have gone to the grocery store and noticed that they have organic certified food.  Well, you can also certify other crops organic, like cotton.  So I buy organic cotton wholesale and then try to communicate to people buying organic foods…that I also have this product that meets your values and preferences.

As far as the feel goes, it’s very similar, but since it’s a premium product…I pay for processing steps like ring spinning the yarn and combing the yarn to make it exceptionally soft, that someone like Fruit of the Loom or Hanes will not.  They’ll use a cheaper process called open-end spinning.  So, in addition to being eco-friendly, I also try to pay for the premium processing so that it has the best softness.

But when I’m at the farmers market I don’t try to explain to people the difference between ring spinning and open-end spinning, I just say “Would you like to feel this?” and then they touch it and their eyes light up and they say “Wow!  That’s a really soft sock!”

How did you get the idea and did it go through any changes?

My seed idea was to model a company called Interface Carpet.  They don’t sell you the carpet, they lease you the carpet.  So, interface owns the carpet, but it’s in carpet squares, so if anything ever breaks or if you spill on it, they’ll just replace that carpet square instead of replacing the whole carpet.  And so I thought what if we were to take this same leasing model and apply it to utilitarian garments like your undershirt, your underwear, or your socks.  But as I was telling my friends about it they said, “That’s stupid.  I would never do that. I would never buy those.”  So I changed my idea and branched out into organics and my friends that buy organic food were like “Yeah, I would totally buy some organic clothes.”  So it changed my initial idea but that change was important because it came from feedback from my initial customers.


How did you end up building your business in Kentucky?

My undergraduate degree was in textile technology at NCSU, but  I came to Kentucky because of Western Kentucky University.  When I was looking at MBA programs I liked the sustainability electives at WKU…And then, because of Idea State U, I decided to stay here.

How did Idea State U help launch your business?

I submitted the business plan to the competition at the graduate level here at our school.  By working at the school level with the faculty I was able to refine the idea and take it from an idea to something real.  So Idea State U really helped me put the legs on the idea, really made the idea come alive, as opposed to just thinking about it intellectually and not really implementing it.

Where do you feel you’d be without Idea State U?

If I didn’t win the prize money for Idea State U I wouldn’t have started my business because the capital cost was too high.  I did have some savings, but not enough savings to buy this big industrial knitting machine.

Idea State U changed my life.  If I didn’t win, I would have just been applying for jobs like everyone else and I would just be in some office somewhere doing excel or data analysis.  And I still do work with excel and data analysis but it’s my own work and work for organic causes and I’m really passionate about it.


What’s the best part of being an entrepreneur?

This is my sole source of income and I live and breathe by doing this.  It’s very exciting. Every time you get an online order it’s just like your first online order (my first was on December 5, 2013).  And I hope always that I can make it and ship it out on the same day.  It’s very exciting.

I think the best thing about being an entrepreneur is the freedom to set your own schedule.  So, for instance, in school you just have to deal with whatever you’ve been given but here at work, the post office doesn’t pick up until 7pm, so I often work late into the evenings, but then I don’t come into work until 10am, because it doesn’t matter if I make an order at 8am or at 2pm.

A lot of people see you winning all this money and making it as an entrepreneur and think “Oh, he’s got success!  I could never do that.”  But we both know that even really successful entrepreneurs make mistakes and things don’t always go perfectly.  What has been your biggest mistake or failure thus far?

I think my biggest mistake or failure was relying too heavily on Amazon to drive my sales.  Over half of my purchases come from Amazon, so I thought “I’ll just get an Amazon seller account, put my stuff up on Amazon, and the orders will be rolling in.  And that did NOT happen at all.  And so I really had to reposition myself to both sell through other online channels like ebay, Etsy, and my stand-alone store and sell at the farmers markets.  When I presented at Idea State U I just talked about online orders, but it turns out that selling at farmers markets and festivals here in Kentucky have accounted for about 40% of my sales.

What advice would you say to college students that were going through the same process, thinking about applying to Idea State U, etc.?

I think the biggest piece of advice I could offer to someone thinking to do this is to really think about how you’re going to get consumers to think about your product and evaluate your product when they are making a buying decision.  Like, I’m right next to a Big Lots.  There are customers that go in there and just buy Big Lots things, and my products will never get in front of them.  So, how can you find these customers when they have a willingness to buy and can they choose your product over substitute products.

Also, I think to overcome these difficulties, don’t look at what you’re doing now, look at month to month.  What did I improve?  How can I continue to improve?  So look at that first derivative and say “how much am I improving?” and “how can I keep improving?”

By: Luke Murray, Awesome Inc.