If you are a veteran, transitioning service member or military spouse and have an idea for a new product or service, get ready to pitch your business to the Sharks of the Heartland.
Sharks of the Heartland: Veterans Edition, a free event centered on a pitch competition, is set for 5-8 p.m. Nov. 16 at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College. Presented by the Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail, the Kentucky Innovation Network and other community partners, the event begins with a networking reception at the ECTC Veteran Center of Excellence. The competition will follow in the college’s science auditorium.
“It’s an evening that promises not only to give potential entrepreneurs an opportunity to experience a real-world pitch and earn some great prizes, but also an introduction to our region’s thriving entrepreneurial community,” said Lisa Boone, director of the Kentucky Innovation Network’s Elizabethtown office, which serves the Lincoln Trail region.
Each participant will deliver a three-minute presentation about a new or existing business idea to the sharks - a panel of business owners and veterans. A brief question-and-answer session may follow.
The panel will award first, second and third-place prizes. The strongest pitch will earn a new laptop donated by Dell as well as an opportunity to pitch the Lincoln Trail Venture Group – a group of local investors who have invested collectively or individually in local startups. Other prizes include an external hard drive and consulting services.
We know veterans are an integral part of the small business community. Nationally, veterans own nearly one in every 10 American businesses, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Further, we couldn’t be prouder that so many veterans, commonly introduced to the area through Fort Knox, have found our region to be the right place to start a business. Sharks in the Heartland: Veterans Edition is an effort to grow entrepreneurship among those who have served our country and their families as it will connect them with our many proven community resources.
“The Lincoln Trail region is a prime location to start a new business for many reasons,” said Boone, who is also a member of the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board. “That includes the relevant and effective support new and existing entrepreneurs receive from community agencies as well as seasoned business owners.”
Sharks in the Heartland: Veterans Edition is part of our region’s annual Global Entrepreneurship Week celebration. The designated week, Nov. 14-20, includes local, national and global events designed to help entrepreneurs explore their potential and to celebrate innovators and job creators.
In addition to the pitch contest Nov. 16, the Kentucky Innovation Network will present Startup Garden Celebration on Nov. 15 at Boundary Oak Distillery in Radcliff. Among the evening’s highlights are awards presentations for Entrepreneur of the Year, Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Community Impact Entrepreneur of the Year and Startup of the Year.
“We’re celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week as well as our exciting local accomplishments,” Boone said. She noted the Elizabethtown-Fort Knox Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Hardin, Meade and LaRue counties, being ranked No. 1 for startup growth. Additionally, Startup Garden, a monthly networking event that highlights local startup success stories, has marked its first anniversary.
We hope you’ll join us as we work to help entrepreneurs and grow small businesses. For more information and to register for Sharks in the Heartland: Veterans Edition, click here or call 270-307-4214.
In addition to our partners already mentioned, we want to extend our thanks to other organizations that have partnered with us: University of Kentucky Small Business Development Center in Elizabethtown, Dell, Schedule It, Vector Training & Consulting and JC Soaring Eagle Life Coaching.
Jerisia Lamons is client service manager at Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail, which is overseen by the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board. She can be reached at 270-766-5115 or firstname.lastname@example.org.