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Venture Connectors accepting applications for 2018 Venture Sharks business competition

Venture Connectors has announced that applications for its ninth annual Venture Sharks business competition are now open. Early-stage companies and entrepreneurs are invited to compete for more than $10,000 — roughly $5,000 in cash and the rest in professional services — provided by the competition’s sponsors. This year’s title sponsor is the Vogt Invention and Innovation Fund and in-kind sponsor is Splash Analytics. The prize package is expected to increase as additional sponsors commit. Venture Sharks has awarded more than $100,000 in prizes since it launched in 2010.

Applications are available at ventureconnectors.org and are due by midnight on March 30. The Venture Sharks committee will choose the top ideas to compete during the preliminary round of the competition, held April 9, where the field then will be narrowed to four finalists. The final round will be held on May 2 during the monthly Venture Connectors’ luncheon meeting. Both events will take place at the Muhammad Ali Center in downtown Louisville.

In both rounds of competition, presenters will be allowed a few minutes to describe their idea to the judges, who then will fire off questions to the presenters in the style of the popular television show, “Shark Tank.” One lucky survivor will receive more than $10,000 in cash and prizes to help them take their idea to market. Final round judges will be announced by April 9 and will comprise notable business leaders, entrepreneurs and investors.

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. A dedicated LLC or corporation need not have been created, but the idea and business being pitched must not be a direct spinout of a larger parent company. There is no restriction on age of the business, but it must have less than $75,000 of lifetime revenue. The business also cannot have raised, or had invested in it, more than $50,000 from any source at the time of application.

The Venture Sharks winner must agree to use both the cash award and the in-kind services to directly pursue the business opportunity presented in the competition. The winner will be selected based on the viability of their idea, the ability of the final award to positively impact the business and the quality of their presentation. Last year, Venture Sharks received nearly 40 applications. Past winners include: Toggle Health, Switcher Studio, Logjustrips, Gear Brake, Smart Farm, Wicked Sheets, U.S. Chia and Surgical Serenity Solutions. Sponsorship opportunities for the 2018 Venture Sharks competition still are available. For information, contact John Williamson at (502) 498-9607 or johndwilliamson@gmail.com.

Venture Connectors’ regular monthly luncheon meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month at the Muhammad Ali Center, 144 N. Sixth St. Doors open at 11:30 a.m., and the meeting runs from noon-1:15 p.m. Registration is required at www.ventureconnectors.org.

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