Featured Speakers 2017

December 2017

Venture Connectors‘ December lunch featured Grace Simrall, Chief of Civic Innovation and Technology for Louisville Metro Government, who talked about the city‚Äôs Smart Louisville initiative. She shared how this initiative is transforming the experience of digital city services for Louisville residents, and co-creating and implementing breakthrough civic innovations.

November 2017

Greater Louisville Inc. (GLI) wants to win the war on talent for our region.¬†A data-driven approach, aligned with state-of-the-art attraction programs and tools, will allow us to succeed in the talent attraction game.¬†At our November lunch, Lisa Bajorinas, VP Entrepreneurship and Talent with GLI,¬† provided an overview of the market research and strategy that supports GLI’s community talent attraction initiative.

October 2017

With the older population growing at an unprecedented rate, innovation in senior care has become an urgent need in today‚Äôs health care landscape. Venture Connectors’ October lunch featured¬† Sheri Rose, executive director of Thrive Center Inc., a nonprofit technology innovation and education center that is working to enhance quality of life for those age 50 and older. Rose provided an overview of the Thrive Center and its partners, and shared how the local entrepreneur and investor community can get involved.

September 2017

At Venture Connectors’ September lunch, visionary entrepreneur and co-founder of Mighty Small Homes, Cyndi Masters, discussed the economic drivers of the tiny home movement and the long-term impact of this real estate revolution. She shared why tiny homes are here to stay, as well as their impact on homeownership for first-time buyers, seniors, immigrants and refugees. She also discussed opportunities the small home market presents for investors.

August 2017

Scott Koloms

Ben Reno-Weber

At Venture Connectors’ August lunch, two leading social entrepreneurs shared the ins and outs of B Corporations and the benefits of legally recognizing them in Kentucky. B Corps¬†are for-profit businesses that include a social component to their mission, and becoming a B Corp requires a rigorous certification process coordinated through the nonprofit B Lab. Speakers Scott Koloms, president and CEO of Facilities Management Services Inc. (FMS) and Ben Reno Weber, chief storyteller for MobileServe, talked about how and why both their companies decided to become B Corps.

June 2017

Venture Connectors was pleased to host the team at Beyond Zero, who shared the manufacturing firm’s journey from startup to success, and how they found the perfect partner in Winston Industries to manufacture their patented machines that turn alcohol into ice. The team includes Jason Sherman, inventor and founder of Beyond Zero; Tim Couch, vice president of marketing & sales; Bob Mandel, chief financial officer; and Paolo Pincente, director of operations.

April 2017

In a lively Q&A with Venture Connectors board member Zack Pennington, founder of  C.I.Agent Solutions,  Dan Parker, shared how he grew his environmental cleanup company into an industry leader that got the attention of Mattoon, Ill.-based Justrite Manufacturing Co., a provider of products for the safe management of flammable liquids. Justrite purchased C.I.Agent Solutions in November.


March 2017

Chad and Lauren Coulter

Susan Hershberg

Fernando and Yaniel Martinez

Steve Coomes





Moderated by food writer Steve Coomes, Venture Connectors featured a panel of prominent restaurant owners. Fernando Martinez, Susan Hershberg and Chad Coulter, discussed the restaurant landscape both in Louisville and nationally. They shared successes in the marketplace as well as challenges in a competitive culinary city and what the future holds for independent restaurants. The panelists also offered thoughts on current threats facing restaurant operators and insights into what makes them and their restaurants tick.

February 2017

Laurie Daugherty

Laurie Daugherty, executive director of the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs (GSE), shared how her organization prepares Kentucky high school students to be successful entrepreneurs by exposing them to the tools and skills necessary to start a company. She discussed how the accelerator-style program offers teens opportunities to gain high school credit, scholarships and build a company from the ground up. She also shared how the audience could get involved with GSE to help create the next 10 entrepreneurs.

January 2017

Jackson Andrews

Jackson Andrews, managing director of Endeavor Louisville, spoke about the Endeavor network and how the organization supports and grows entrepreneurial communities worldwide. As Endeavor’s third expansion in the United States following offices in Miami and Detroit, the Louisville office leverages the region’s entrepreneurial spirit to drive job and wealth creation, sustained economic growth and a culture of giving back. Andrews shared how Endeavor provides access to talent, markets and capital to selected entrepreneurs from the Louisville region.