FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 7, 2018) – Startup Week is drawing internationally acclaimed business pitch competitions by Endeavor and Rise of the Rest to Kentucky through Friday, along with announcements, partnerships and initiatives to fast track the state’s business innovation environment, Gov. Matt Bevin announced today.
“In Kentucky, we are helping people to take ideas and turn them into companies that transform our economy,” Gov. Bevin said. “During Startup Week, we’ll highlight how we’re jump starting the state’s innovation ecosystem, and we’ll celebrate our collaboration with some of the biggest names in the venture capital world. Our message is simple. No matter what your entrepreneurial idea is, we have the tools to help you succeed. You can do this in Kentucky!”
Startup Week includes an unprecedented congregation of globally known venture capitalists and promising early stage Kentucky companies led by some of the state’s best and brightest innovators. Together they will take part in two of the world’s preeminent business pitch competitions: the Endeavor International Selection Panel and the Rise of the Rest, a traveling contest led by former AOL Time Warner chief and major investor, Steve Case.
Endeavor, a high-impact, global investment network, operates offices in 19 countries with catalyst funds topping $100 million. Monday’s Endeavor International Selection Panel represents the culmination of a rigorous vetting process for a group of startups handpicked from Kentucky and across the globe.
In 2015, Endeavor located one of its first two American offices in Louisville, where it has already chosen to support entrepreneurs in fields including infrastructure/utilities, health care, software/services and marketing. Some of the top venture capitalists and influencers from both coasts will be on hand, as a high-powered panel of judges evaluate each company’s concept, talent and ability to scale alongside rising-stars from multiple continents.
On Friday, the Rise of the Rest bus tour will visit Louisville for the second time and crisscross the city visiting multiple local startups. Rise of the Rest was launched last year through Case’s DC-based venture capital firm, Revolution Capital, with the goal of raising $150 million to seed companies outside the “big three” investment targets of Silicon Valley, New York and Boston. The Rise fund recently chose high-tech greenhouse startup AppHarvest of Pikeville for its first round of funding in February 2018. The fund, managed by “Hillbilly Elegy” author and financier J.D. Vance, now counts among its growing roster of investors Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Howard Schultz of Starbucks, Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans, along with the Waltons, Kochs and Pritzkers.
Friday evening will include a Rise of the Rest pitch competition judged by Case, Vance and an esteemed panel of business and venture capital veterans. The winner will leave with a check for $100,000.
During Startup Week, Gov. Bevin will also launch the state’s retooled efforts to support the entire spectrum of business innovators at every stage of their development. The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development will oversee that collective group of programs, efforts and partnerships through its re-tooled efforts to support high-growth startup businesses.
“Startup Week in Kentucky is a significant, historic moment for the state,” said Brian Mefford, the Cabinet’s executive director of innovation. “Not only having this amount of financial fire power, but bringing together experts serious about identifying and capitalizing startups with this many gifted local business founders is an extraordinary opportunity. Endeavor and Rise both recognize our nation is teeming with ideas, resources and great companies with extraordinary potential. We firmly believe that nowhere is that more true than in Kentucky.”
View the Startup Week launch video here.