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Entrepreneurs to Make Pitches in Covington as State Climbs in Rankings

Aspiring entrepreneurs in Northern Kentucky will have the opportunity to make their dreams of starting a business come true.

They will participate in a business pitch competition at Covington's UpTech on Thursday. Similar to the hit TV show Shark Tank, participants will have minutes to present their business idea to a group of potential angel investors, individuals who provide capital for startup companies. Winners will receive cash prizes and the opportunity to present their plans to the entire Kentucky Angel Investors Network (Kentucky Angels) in Frankfort.

“This is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to network with potential investors,” said Mandy Lambert, commissioner of business development at the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. “Kentucky has a strong entrepreneurial spirit, and we want to expose more people to investment opportunities throughout the state.”

UpTech is located at 112 West Pike Street and the competition goes from 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m.

The event is one of eight statewide pitch competitions hosted by the Cabinet, the Kentucky Innovation Network and Kentucky Angels. Competitions have already taken place in Louisville, Murray, Elizabethtown, Pikeville, Richmond and Ashland with an additional event scheduled for later this year in Lexington.

“We welcome everyone that has an interest to learn more about our new Kentucky Angel Network and to see some of the up-and-coming early stage companies that will soon be pitching to angel investors,” said Casey Barach, director of the Kentucky Innovation Network Office in Covington. “Angel investing is a large part of our efforts to build the entrepreneur ecosystem in Northern Kentucky.”

Winners of the previous competitions are singing the praises of the events. “This [the competition] isn’t a publicity stunt, like others we’ve been to in other states” said Lula Luu, owner of Fin Gourmet in Paducah and winner of the pitch competition in Murray. “Kentucky cares about promoting entrepreneurship. All this was very impressive because Kentucky is not just talking about supporting small startups, they’re doing it.”

Register to attend the competition here.

Last year, the Cabinet successfully launched the Kentucky Angels Network. Kentucky Angels 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 about Kentucky Angels, visit

Kentucky Jumps 45 Places in Entrepreneur Rankings

After being near the bottom a year ago, Kentucky’s entrepreneurial climate is now one of the best in the nation.

Governor Steve Beshear announced the annual State Entrepreneurship Index (SEI) ranked Kentucky fourth in the country for its ability to create businesses. The Commonwealth climbed 45 places from its ranking of 49th last year.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy,” said Gov. Beshear. “Over the past several years, this administration has focused on developing innovative programs and offering dynamic services to help these growing companies every step of the way. Even though this is a significant jump, I’m not surprised we’re producing great results. Kentucky is a tremendous place to grow a business.”

The SEI, first published in 2008, combines five factors to formulate the overall state rankings: establishment growth, establishment growth per capita, business formation rates, patents per 1,000 people and income levels for non-farm proprietors. In comparing these factors state-by-state and calculating their deviation from the median, the SEI ultimately reflects states’ entrepreneurial environment.

The Commonwealth continues to make entrepreneurship a priority. To assist Kentucky’s small businesses, the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development created the Office of Entrepreneurship last year to enhance the state’s existing efforts to help businesses at every step of the growth cycle. 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.

The Office of Entrepreneurship also oversees the Kentucky Innovation Network. Consisting of 13 offices throughout the state, the Kentucky Innovation Network offers extensive resources for small and new businesses, as well as innovative and high-tech companies by offering a lifecycle of services. 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.

“Last year, the Office of Entrepreneurship supported more than 2,000 small businesses, and that number is growing,” said Mandy Lambert, commissioner of business development in the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. “We are seeing more and more startup companies getting off the ground and small businesses growing. As a result, more Kentuckians are starting to realize that they have the opportunity to become entrepreneurs.”

The SEI ranking is the latest in a series of accolades for Kentucky’s entrepreneurial climate., in conjunction with the Kauffman Foundation, gave the Commonwealth an “A” rating in its annual Small Business Friendliness Survey. The Kauffman Foundation Index also places Kentucky fifth in the nation for entrepreneurial activity over the past two years.

-Staff report

Photo: UpTech sign (provided)