Venture Connectors is very pleased to announce the three early-stage startups who will compete in the final round of our 12th annual Venture Sharks™ business pitch competition on Wednesday, Oct. 6!
The Venture Sharks selection committee chose the top ideas for the first round of competition, which was held Sept. 21. The finalists were selected based on the viability of their business, the quality of their presentation and the impact the Venture Sharks prize could have on their company. 
The finalists are:

  • Athelo Health, a B2B SaaS-based mobile application aimed at improving quality of life outcomes for patients with cancer while decreasing costs of service. Founder is Jessica Thurmond.
  • Grouper, a social messaging platform that connects users and creators based on their interests, hobbies and passions. Founder is Chris Wiedmar.
  • HBCU Tour, a subscription-based vendor services platform for current and former students of historically black colleges and universities. Founder is Nasir Jones.

During the finals, competitors will face a panel of savvy investor sharks fishing for the next great deal. They will each be allowed five minutes to describe their idea to the judges, who then will fire off questions to the presenters in the style of the television show, “Shark Tank.” One lucky survivor will receive a prize package designed to help them take their idea to market. In addition to a $5,000 cash award, the prize package will include one-on-one mentoring from established entrepreneurs and advisors. Judges are: Dan Beldy, managing director, Airwing Ventures; Paul Ford, managing principal, DS9 Capital; and John Willmoth, founder and managing partner, Poplar Ventures.

This competition would not be possible without our generous sponsors. Venture Sharks’ presenting sponsor is Amplify Louisville. Cash sponsors are Amplify, the Community Foundation of Louisville and PNC Bank. In-kind sponsors include Amplify, MightilyFleur de Lis CommunicationsAckerman CPAs and Frost Brown Todd
The final round will be held during Venture Connectors’ regular monthly lunch on Oct. 6 at TEN20 Craft Brewery, 1020 E. Washington St., from noon-1 p.m. The event is free to Venture Connectors members and $40 for guests. Registration is required.