PADUCAH, Ky. (October 30, 2015) – Cooler Commander, the latest winner of a Kentucky Innovation Network regional pitch competition, makes life a little easier for adventure seekers and outdoors enthusiasts. The company’s product received the $1,000 top prize at a pitch competition in Paducah and an invitation to pitch to the Kentucky Angel Investors Network in Louisville this December.
Cooler Commander is a tie-down apparatus created to secure coolers during outdoor adventures such as boating and ATV trips. The product, which company owner Jason Carnes still makes by hand, offers easy access to coolers while keeping them securely in place. The idea struck Carnes when he noticed the erratic way many coolers were strapped down during a recent ATV trip. After engineering a strap that could provide stability without limiting access to the cooler – and learning to sew – the Cooler Commander was born.
“In this fast-growing and highly competitive business environment, it’s harder than ever for a startup to gain recognition. The Paducah office of the Kentucky Innovation Network gave that opportunity to five local start-ups with this pitch competition,” said Dan Lazarevic, director of the Paducah office. “The event attracted local bankers, attorneys, investors and the general public to be a part of the first pitch competition hosted in Paducah, Ky. This has proven to me that Paducah is accepting and embracing its entrepreneurship culture shift. Our great team of judges selected the top two companies that have high growth potential and will have great influence on Paducah’s shift. I’m so glad to be a part of it.”
“At the pitch competition, I came in so nervous that my hands where sweaty and my stomach was full of butterflies,” said Carnes. “I had worked so hard for weeks on my presentation, and now I had to speak in front of people. I went up and gave it 100 percent and ended up winning. I have to give a lot of credit to Dan and (assistant director) Tom (Curtsinger) at the Paducah Innovation Network for helping me get started and encouraging me along the way. I have learned a lot from them and I am so glad that there are people I can turn to for advice and direction. This win was a huge boost of confidence and I look forward to continuing to build the Cooler Commander brand.”
Paducah’s pitch competition was the last in a series of 11 events held throughout the state. Earlier this year, Covington, Lexington, Morehead, Louisville, Ashland, London, Pikeville, Richmond, Elizabethtown and Murray held regional competitions.
The pitch competition, now in its second year, was sponsored by the Kentucky Innovation Network, the Office of Entrepreneurship within the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and the Kentucky Angel Investors Network. For more information on the competition, visit kyinnovation.com.
The Kentucky Angel Investors Network brings new ventures and accredited investors together via monthly online meetings, providing investors access to form deals and partnerships with entrepreneurs statewide. Membership is open to those accredited investors in and outside the state who are passionate about investing in Kentucky companies. To learn more, visit www.kyangels.net.
Consisting of 13 offices throughout the state, the Kentucky Innovation Network offers extensive resources for small and new businesses. Assistance can range from funding initiatives, marketing and sales assistance, small business advocacy and resource referrals, along with a variety of financial and incentive programs to encourage investment and job growth. All services are provided free of charge.
The Kentucky Innovation Network is an initiative of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development’s Office of Entrepreneurship. The goals of the Office of Entrepreneurship are to develop an entrepreneurial climate in Kentucky, provide guidance and support to startups and assist existing small businesses with growth opportunities. To learn how the Kentucky Innovation Network is helping create and grow Kentucky’s small businesses, visit www.kyinnovation.com.
The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development is the primary state agency responsible for encouraging new jobs and investment in the state. New capital investment announced in Kentucky in 2017 totaled a state record $9.2 billion, spurring more than 17,200 projected new jobs. Information on available industrial properties, workforce development assistance, incentive programs, community profiles, small business development and other economic development resources is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com.