Speakers 2022


Our January lunch featured Louisville-based Climavision’s founder and CEO, Chris Goode, who shared the inside story on how the weather services and intelligence platform recently raised $100 million in equity funding.For almost 30 years, Goode has pioneered technology that merges big data with meteorology and remote sensing — a lifelong passion culminating in the launch of Climavision, a gamechanger in ClimateTech.



Our February lunch featured Ian McClure, University of Kentucky’s Associate Vice President for Research, Innovation and Economic Impact and leader of UK Innovate, who presented “The Case for Kentucky: Why Today’s Sputnik Moment is the Commonwealth’s Calling Card.” When the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1 in the 1950s, the U.S. was prompted to increase its investment in defense, research and education to bridge the perceived technological gap between our country and the U.S.S.R. McClure says today’s Sputnik Moment has building for the past two decades. He discussed the resulting U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), and why funding from that bill could be game-changing for Kentucky.



Gen Z and Millennials comprise over half the world’s population, but engaging them effectively demands new tools for new times. Our March lunch featured JK McKnight — founder of Art of ImpactForecastle Festival and Forecastle Foundation — who journeyed through changing trends and shares the  three-tiered engagement platform he crafted over a 20-year career founding and scaling a successful experiential business, nonprofit and agency.





Our April lunch featured a fantastic presentation on how the Russell Technology Business Incubator (RTBI) is creating legacy for Black and LatinX companies. Monica Stewart, Director of Operations for AMPED and RTBI, shared how the incubator prepares founders to successfully launch or relaunch profitable, legacy businesses. She went over how the application process works and some of the essential training founders receive.



Our May lunch featured a “fireside chat” with Dr. Angelique Johnson, founder and CEO of Vissionaireum, a strategic planning company that focuses on business coaching, building inclusive startup ecosystems and increasing access to capital. An “accidental entrepreneur,” Dr. Johnson shared how she is helping businesses become more empathetic and inclusive, which in turn helps them attract the capital and talent they need.



Does your startup need a chief of staff (CoS)? At our June lunch, Cheston Newhall, the recently appointed chief of staff for Bamboo Health, shared why the role is important in startups, how it can take on different forms, and how a CoS can be a strategic growth lever, if used correctly. He noted that many CoS roles are popping up in tech companies, but cautioned against hiring one simply because it’s the trendy thing to do.



At our August lunch, media entrepreneur Tom Cottingham shared his perspectives on the trends taking shape in innovation, the traction he’s seeing in various industries and entrepreneurship advancement in the flyover states. Tom was co-founder of The Cobb Group, TechRepublic, NarrowCast Group, Insider Louisville and is now CEO and Partner of Flyover Media Group.



At our September lunch, Lisa Zangari, President and CEO of the Zangari Consulting Group and Executive Coach-in-Residence at the Leadership Louisville Center, shared how fostering an environment that nurtures innovation not only drives business results but can be your greatest competitive advantage. Through stories from her own work, along with some of the world’s most innovative companies, she will demonstrate how to build and sustain a culture that enables innovation, increases employee engagement, and drives long-term success.


At our October lunch, Venture Connectors was pleased to feature Monique Kuykendoll Quarterman, Deputy Executive Director of the Office of Entrepreneurship & Small Business Innovation/KY Innovation with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. Her talk focused on transformation, and how the Cabinet is working to solidify Kentucky as a top destination for entrepreneurs and investors who seek to build or grow a startup.




At our November lunch, Venture Connectors was excited to host a terrific discussion with serial entrepreneur Ricky Mason and angel investor Chris Redd, the founders of Rheddorick and Network + Chill, about how they came together to create a thriving community that connects the entrepreneurial ecosystem through inclusive storytelling and education.


At our December lunch, Venture Connectors was pleased to feature John Waggoner, Founder & Chairman of American Queen Voyages, and President & CEO of HMS Global Maritime, who told the incredible story of how he turned his childhood dream into a hugely successful career. He shared the pure joy of “being able to play with boats the rest of my life so I will never have to grow up and get a real job.”