Applications for the 10th annual Venture Sharks business competition are now open. Early-stage companies and entrepreneurs are invited to compete for a $5,000 cash prize, one year of startup coaching and thousands of dollars of in-kind services, provided by the competition’s sponsors. Vogt Invention & Innovation Fund returns this year at the competition’s title sponsor. Venture Sharks has awarded more than $100,000 in prizes since it launched in 2010.

Applications are available at and are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, March 29. The Venture Sharks committee will choose the top ideas to compete during the preliminary round of the competition, held April 18, where the field then will be narrowed to four finalists. The final round will be held on May 1 during the monthly Venture Connectors’ luncheon meeting. Visit Events to register.

In both rounds of competition, presenters will be allowed a few 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.

New to the prize package this year, startup coaching will include one-on-one mentoring from established entrepreneurs and advisors on: strategic planning, product/market fit, software development, marketing and promotion, financial advising and modeling, capital fundraising and legal structuring.

The competition is open to businesses or entrepreneurs from any industry in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee, but presentations for the preliminary and final rounds of competition must be made in person in Louisville. A dedicated LLC or corporation need not have been created, but the idea and business being pitched must not be a direct spinout of a larger parent company. There is no restriction on age of the business, but it must have less than $75,000 of lifetime revenue. The business also cannot have raised, or had invested in it, more than $50,000 from any source at the time of application.

The Venture Sharks winner must agree to use their prize to directly pursue the business opportunity presented in the competition. The winner will be selected based on the viability of their idea, the ability of the final award to positively impact the business and the quality of their presentation. Sponsorship opportunities for the 2019 Venture Sharks competition still are available. For information, contact John Williamson at (502) 498-9607 or