Venture Sharks 2021


Early-stage companies and entrepreneurs were invited apply.



Applications open: Monday, Aug. 23

Applications due: Wednesday, Sept. 8, by 5PM

Semifinalists selected: Week of Sept. 13

Preliminary round of competition: Sept. 21

Finals event (winner selected): Wednesday, Oct. 6

Thank you to our cash sponsors!

Thank you to our in-kind sponsors!

Prize Package:

  • $5,000 Cash Prize
  • 1 Year Startup Coaching
  • $10,000 Free Startup Services

Startup Coaching

Hundreds of years of experience from peer entrepreneurs across: 

  • Strategic Planning
  • Product Market Fit
  • Software Development
  • Marketing and Promotion
  • Financial Planning
  • Startup Fundraising
  • Legal Structuring

Guidelines for applying to Venture Sharks:

The goal of Venture Sharks is to support early-stage companies and/or entrepreneurs. Here are the criteria for competitors:

Location, Industry: 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, KY.

Business Establishment: A dedicated LLC or corporation need not have been created, but the idea and business being pitched must not be a direct spinout from a larger parent company. (We expect the parent company to fund this, not Venture Sharks.)

 Age: No restriction on age of the business.

Revenue: The business must have less than $75,000 of lifetime revenue.

Capitalization: The business cannot have raised, or had invested in it, more than $50,000 in equity-based funding. Grant funding is excluded from this amount.

Use of Proceeds: The winner agrees to use both the cash award and the in-kind services to directly pursue the business opportunity presented in the competition.

Judging Criteria: At both the preliminary and final competitions, winners will be selected based on the viability of their idea as a business, the ability of the final award to positively impact the business, and the quality of their presentation.

Details of competing:

Both the preliminary Venture Sharks round and the finals will follow the same basic format.

  • Presenters will be allowed 3-5 minutes to pitch your idea to the judges. Time limits are strictly enforced.
  • Business partners may present together if you wish.
  • You may use props or a product demonstration if you choose to, but no PowerPoint slides can be used.
  • After your presentation, you’ll have a short 5-minute question and answer period with the Sharks judges panel.