More than 250 entrepreneurs from the Louisville area have now graduated from Nucleus’ LaunchIt program which teaches startup companies how to get their ideas or products off the ground. But local entrepreneurs aren’t the only ones benefiting from the program. Nine entrepreneurs from eastern Kentucky participated in the most recent LaunchIt class via video and audio hook-up from the University of Pikeville.

The 10th LaunchIt class finished the 10-week course Nov. 5 with a competition to see which of the students had the best pitch for their company or idea. TriBlue Engineering won with a product that removes carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide from natural processing plants. “The LaunchIt program forced us to reevaluate and improve various concepts of our business strategy such as market segmentation and supply chain management, while also pushing us towards our first sales” said TriBlue CEO Hunter Gerlach.

TriBlue will now compete against other local entrepreneurs for a Vogt Invention and Innovation Award worth $100,000.

“There are hundreds of smart, innovative entrepreneurs in the Louisville area who need legal, financial and marketing expertise to get their ideas off the ground” said Nucleus CEO Vickie Yates Brown. “LaunchIt has helped, and continues to help, these entrepreneurs pursue success while boosting the reputation of Nucleus and city of Louisville for providing great support to startups.”

The LaunchIt class included seven military veterans who received free tuition as part of UofL’s VetStart program, which provides help to veterans in getting their businesses started.

One of them was Adam Scott, a Navy veteran who moved to Louisville last year. Scott and his partner Austin Lopesilvero founded MixxThis, an app that suggests drinks based on the users’ feedback.  For instance, a person could use it in a nightclub to figure out which drink they might like, instead of blindly experimenting, based on their previous drink choices. Scott says the LaunchIt classes had “great coaches that gave us fantastic feedback” as well as tips on “how to pitch the product to investors and consumers.”

TriBlue’s Gerlach added: “As a graduate of UofL’s Entrepreneurship MBA program, I am always amazed and very appreciative of how this university continues to give back to local entrepreneurs.”

Nucleus hosted a celebration for the LaunchIt class  that was catered by class members Mark and Kristy Ciskowski (BiteSize Catering) and Deidre Lee (Seductively Sweet Confections).

Mark Hebert
Following a 28-year career as a radio and television reporter, Mark Hebert joined the University of Louisville as the Director of Media Relations in 2009, serving as the main spokesperson. In 2015, Mark was named Director of Programming and Production. He’s now producing and hosting a radio show about “all things UofL”, overseeing the university’s video and TV productions and promoting UofL’s research operation. Mark is best known for his 22 years as the political and investigative reporter for WHAS-TV in Louisville where he won numerous awards for breaking stories, exposing corruption and objectively covering Kentucky politics. In 2014, Mark was inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame.