Supporting a culture of entrepreneurship

July 9, 2015

Lisa Williams

Lincoln Trail region to host pitch competition

As we work to fuel innovation, create jobs and drive our economy forward, it’s important that we take steps to encourage entrepreneurship.

“All businesses once were start-ups founded by entrepreneurs,” noted Rick Johnson, program director for Kentucky Innovation Network at the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation.

Pitch competitions are an excellent way to foster entrepreneurship and we are excited to host one of 11 pitch competitions being held across the Commonwealth through the Kentucky Innovation Network and Kentucky Angel Investors. The Lincoln Trail Innovation Center will host an entrepreneur pitch competition Sept. 23 at the Brown Pusey House in Elizabethtown.

A total of five start-up companies or individuals will compete in front of a panel of judges. Local Kentucky Innovation Network offices will select participants, who must be in the early phases of their business with less than $25,000 in revenue.

This competition is not only an opportunity to earn capital, but it also will expose entrepreneurs to others in the community who can help them overcome barriers, enhance their businesses and achieve their dreams.

“This is an excellent opportunity for entrepreneurs to gain support and to meet possible investors,” Johnson said. “It also is a way to expose entrepreneurs to others with complementary skill sets, and create relationships that could form even stronger businesses that are more likely to succeed.”

The Lincoln Trail Innovation Center is partnering with the Kentucky Innovation Network offices in Owensboro and Bowling Green for the pitch competition in Elizabethtown. This means nearly 30 counties will be represented.

The three-hour event includes a luncheon and a 20-minute education session. Entrepreneurs will have 10 minutes to pitch their ideas, followed by a 10-minute question and answer session with judges, who include accredited investors and venture capitalists.

The winner will receive $1,000 and have the opportunity to compete against winners from each regional pitch competition at the state level for a share of $10,000 in prize money. They will present their business plan to the entire Kentucky Angel Investors Network in November in celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week.

The Kentucky Innovation Network Pitch Competition is one of many opportunities available to entrepreneurs in the area. The Lincoln Trail Innovation Center has been helping and supporting local entrepreneurs for 13 years. The office is part of the Kentucky Innovation Network and specializes in supporting start-up companies.

Recently, the Innovation Network partnered with the University of Kentucky Small Business Development Center, Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail and Elizabethtown Community and Technical College to promote entrepreneurship and host 100 Ideas for N.O.W. in Hardin and Washington counties. This event, which is open to all entrepreneurs, offers the top presenters an opportunity to pitch before local investors. The program will expand to Grayson and Meade counties in the future.

Another valuable asset to our entrepreneurial community is the Lincoln Trail Venture Group, which began in 2004 and includes 40 investors and distinguished members of the community. Their meetings are held monthly and include pitches from local entrepreneurs. Members can invest individually or the group can invest as a whole.

Together, these organizations compose an entrepreneurial network that fosters long-term benefits for our communities.

“It is important to promote a culture of entrepreneurship,” Johnson said. “Job creation is the ultimate goal, which has an added result of attracting young, bright people to the area.”

By encouraging entrepreneurial enterprises, we marry ideas with investors, helping to create new opportunities for individuals, companies and our community.

Lisa Williams is director of Lincoln Trail Innovation Center, an office of the Kentucky Innovation Network, and a member of the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board. The Kentucky Innovation Network is overseen by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development.


The Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail helps match job seekers with local employment and training opportunities. Our business solutions team offers employers of all sizes and industries personalized support to build a competitive workforce. We are an equal opportunity employer.

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Program is funded with Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I funds through the Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet and the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board. The Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board assures compliance with the Education and Labor Cabinet’s Methods of Administration, as amended, Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity Assurance and all other Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity requirements of WIOA.