Historic photo of former Venture Connectors Presidents and Chairs at the 20th anniversary celebration

Historic photo of former Venture Connectors Presidents and Chairs at the 20th anniversary celebration

Venture Connectors celebrated our 20th Anniversary on Oct. 7. The organization was founded as Venture Club of Louisville in 1995, and we invited back all of our founders to commemorate 20 years of connecting entrepreneurs, investors, service providers, inventors, academics, practitioners, technologists, students and business experts to increase the number and quality of new ventures launched from the Louisville region.

The Venture Club, as it was known before being rebranded as Venture Connectors in 2010, attracted more than 200 members from 18 states during its first three years, according to Robert L. Ogden, a co-founder and chairman emeritus who is still actively involved in the organization. Since 1995, the membership-based business association has hosted more than 1,000 companies and entrepreneurs from 25 states, seeking millions of dollars in funding, said Ogden. The panelists discussed what the venture capital landscape was like in 1995, and how it has changed in the past 20 years.

Venture Connectors founders and panelists were:

Doug Cobb, a three-time Inc. 500 CEO and a three-time Kentucky Entrepreneur of the Year. From 2000 to 2010, he served as CEO of Appriss Inc., which uses information technology to help governments keep people safe. From 1997 until 2000, Cobb served as the founding president and CEO of Greater Louisville Inc., Louisville‚Äôs leading economic development organization. Before that, he was a founder and managing director of Chrysalis Ventures Inc., a venture capital firm he co-founded in 1993. Prior to founding Chrysalis, he was the founder and CEO of The Cobb Group, then the world’s leading publisher of newsletters for personal computer users. He has served as a director for a number of successful growth companies including Appriss, Summit Energy Services, Genscape, and Golden State Overnight.

Robert L. Ogden, a commercial finance specialist and 1999 Entrepreneur of the Year. Ogden spent the first 20 years of his career at Walter E. Heller & Co., where he specialized in financing the leveraged buyouts of the 1960s and 1970s and shepherded company turn-arounds. He came to Louisville in 1980 when he was recruited by First National Bank of Louisville. He founded Ogden Associates Inc. in 1984, an investment banking and financial advisory company that has served over 100 clients from more than 30 different industries. Ogden is also co-founder and chairman of a factoring company, First Financial Inc.

Jerry Parham, president of Jerome Parham Consulting, which offers strategic and financial planning, capital formation, management and corporate board governance and other services to large and small businesses, closely-held and minority-owned companies. He previously worked for PNC Bank as a commercial lender and served as president and CEO for the African-American Venture Capital Fund LLC. As a venture capitalist, he sat on the board of six portfolio companies and assisted in strategic and financial planning, debt restructuring and asset acquisition.

Mark Pulliam, a leading real estate consulting, leasing and sales professional with Triumph Development Co. Pulliam has closed over $200 million in real estate financing during past 10 years. He has also facilitated the extension and re-structuring of $85 million in real estate loans and negotiated real estate transactions exceeding $5.5 million during the past five years. Notable achievements include: a build-to-suit agreement for 90,000-square-foot Insight Communications office/technical facility; financing and construction for the tenant improvements for 28,000-square-foot medical office facility; and planning commission approval for 300-unit multifamily development project in Georgetown, Ky.

Tonya York Dees, president of York Management Inc., which specializes in business and economic development related conference, project and event planning. She has worked with IdeaFestival since 2006, helping to raise its profile to become one of Louisville’s best-known events. She is project manager for the Louisville Innovation Summit and the Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame event and led the effort to land the Inc. 500 conference in Louisville. She serves on the University of Louisville Board of Overseers and co-founded the Unbridled Charitable Foundation and the Unbridled Eve Derby Gala.