Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Louisville, KY


Home of the Kentucky Derby, Louisville is Kentucky’s largest city and a growing hub of entrepreneurship. It’s even ranked in the Top 15 Cities for women in tech!

Louisville, KY, home of the Kentucky Derby and sometimes known as “The Derby City,” is the state’s largest city and the 29th-most populous city in the United States. Yelp’s 2018 Q2 Local Economic Outlook, which measures business success in cities around the country, ranked Louisville 18th overall. The city also ranked 12th in a 2018 SmartAsset list of the best cities for women in tech. Similarly, WalletHub listed the Louisville metro area 71st on their 2018 list of the best metropolitan areas for STEM professionals.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Louisville’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

The Inventors Council hosts monthly meetings with the aim of providing support to local inventors and entrepreneurs.

A large and active networking group in which entrepreneurs can meet one another, build relationships, and share referrals.

A free networking group, No Rules Networking hosts regular meetings and encourages members of the entrepreneurial and business communities to support one another.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

1 Million Cups hosts monthly events in cities around the country in which entrepreneurs can present their startups to members of the community.

EnterpriseCorp holds a number of events related to the Louisville entrepreneurship scene, including awards ceremonies, conferences, demo days, and more.

Louisville hosts a pair of annual Startup Weekend events, two-day conferences celebrating entrepreneurship in the area.


Startup Competitions:

MBA and graduate students at the University of Louisville and 11 other leading university entrepreneurship programs can compete for cash prizes in the Cardinal Challenge.

With five regional competitions across the state of Kentucky, the Lt. Governor’s Entrepreneurship Challenge is open to all of the state’s high school students.

Venture Sharks is an annual pitch competition held in the city that is open to early-stage companies from some of the surrounding states.


Co-working Spaces:

(c)space is designed to be an affordable, flexible space for community-minded professionals to work, either alone or with one another.

Located in Shelby Park, The Park is a co-working space with the goal of supporting people that are creating a better world.

A co-working space that aims to help creative types, artists and entrepreneurs get what they need to succeed.

Managed by the non-profit Louisville Makes Games, this co-working space exclusively for game developers.



LVL1 is a hackerspace that provides a wide array of tools and equipment to its members and hosts regular meetings, workshops, and other events.

Located just across the river in Jeffersonville, IN, Maker13 is a maker space that has a variety of membership plans to best fit its members’ needs.

FirstBuild’s Microfactory is a workspace that provides the public access to the tools, equipment, and other materials needed to design, prototype, and otherwise work on their creations.



1804 is an entrepreneur center that supports early-stage tech-enabled startups in Kentucky and southern Indiana.

Louisville’s first kitchen incubator, Chef Space is a 13,000 square foot facility that provides commercial kitchen space to food entrepreneurs.

KY innovation uses a number of resources provided by the state and itself to support small business and entrepreneurs from around the entire state.

A project of the city’s government, the Nia Center is a collection of resources to support economic development, including several aimed at small business and entrepreneurs.

Incubators vs. Accelerators: Which will best fit your needs?



Located just across the river in Jeffersonville, IN, Velocity Accelerator is a 100-day program that works with startups from southern Indiana and Kentucky.

The Vogt Awards select high-potential startups and gives them $25,000 in seed funding as well as entering them in a 10-week accelerator program.

Wild Accelerator is a 9-week micro-accelerator program that works with early- and idea-stage startups led by women.

XLerate Health is a large accelerator program with varying tracks to best meet the needs of the early-stage healthcare startups that it works with.



While Bellarmine does not offer any programs in entrepreneurship, the W. Fielding Rubel School of Business hosts events to educate and support students interested in it.

Jefferson Community & Technical College’s Business Administration program includes a certificate program in entrepreneurship and small business management.

The University of Louisville offers a number of degree programs in entrepreneurship as well as organizing several resources outside of the classroom.


Angel Groups/VCs:

Access Ventures is an investment firm that looks to build inclusive economies by working with startups and other organizations of all sizes.

Chrysalis Ventures is a venture capital firm that aims to partner with early-stage healthcare and technology companies located in the Midwest and the Southeast United States.

The Enterprise Angels Fund invests in early- to mid-stage growth companies from around the state of Kentucky.

Made up of 99 investors from around the state and several from out-of-state, Kentucky Angels invests technology-driven startups from around the state.

Neace Ventures is a private investment firm that focuses on working with its core competencies: food and beverage, real estate, insurance, and joint ventures.

Located in Louisville but open to investments around the nation and even globally, Radicle Capital invests in ventures solving social or environmental problems.

Series A Startup Funding – from Anguish to Accelerate


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

The Louisville Business Journal offers a number of newsletters for subscribers to pick and choose from.

Louisville Insider offers three newsletters, including a pair of weekly business-focused ones at the beginning and end of the week.

Covering business and entrepreneurship news from around the entire state, Think Kentucky offers a bi-monthly newsletter.

YPAL offers a weekly newsletter that keeps subscribers up-to-date on the news and events going on in the area.


Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the  USA?

Greenville, SCRichmond, VA Raleigh, NC

Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Louisville not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below and we will add it to the article. 

Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.