Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Lexington, KY

Lexington, KY

Lexington is home to large companies like laser printer  Lexmark International and is known for its stable economy and opportunities for entrepreneurship.

Lexington, KY, nicknamed the “Horse Capital of the World” is the second-largest city in the state and 60th-largest in the country. Home to large companies like laser printer manufacturer Lexmark International, the city is known for its stable economy and opportunities for entrepreneurship. In late 2018, Lexington appeared on The Penny Hoarder’s list of the 10 best cities for entrepreneurs. The city also appeared on a pair of WalletHub rankings in the same year: 86th on the list of the best large cities to start a business (60th overall in the “Access to Resources” category) and 102nd on the list of the best cities for Hispanic entrepreneurs.

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

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

With two monthly events (one open to the public and one for members only), the Investors Network KY supports area innovation and entrepreneurship.

A community-led non-profit organization, RunJumpDev is dedicated to supporting the game development community in Lexington through regular events.

Startup Advantage is an organization that hosts regular lectures and workshops about entrepreneurship, designed to support area startups.

Startup Breakfast hosts weekly events for Lexington-area entrepreneurs to come together, meet one another and make connections.

 

Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

Organized by Commerce Lexington, EMERGE is an annual full-day conference focused on entrepreneurship and business.

Held annually since 2002, the Lexington Bluegrass Area Minority Business Expo is a networking and promotional opportunity for minority-owned businesses.

Lexington hosts  Startup Grind, a regular entrepreneurship event held across various cities around the United States.

Techstars hosts a Startup Weekend, a two-day event celebrating and supporting entrepreneurship, in Lexington on an annual basis.

 

Startup Competitions:

5 Across holds competitions every other month in which five entrepreneurs have five minutes to pitch their startups for a chance to earn a $500 cash prize.

LGEC is an annual pitch competition for high school students around Kentucky, with a number of regional competitions throughout the state.

Students from Southeastern Conference schools, which includes the University of Kentucky, can compete in the annual SEC Student Pitch Competition.

 

Co-working Spaces:

Awesome Inc., an organization that supports technology entrepreneurship, offers co-working space day passes and 24/7 memberships.

Base 110 provides a variety of month-to-month membership levels for their 18,000 square feet of offices, co-working, conference rooms, and event spaces.

The Plantory is a co-working space aimed at non-profits and startups that are attempting to make a positive change in the world and the Lexington community.

 

Makerspaces:

The Northside Branch of the Lexington Public Library has a Digital Studio, which provides library members with access to digital editing programs as well as a 3D printer.

Members of the Kre8Now Makerspace receive 24/7 access to the tools and equipment offered in the community workshop.

The University of Kentucky’s College of Engineering has two makerspaces for students, the Innovation Center and the Engineering Prototype and Invention Center lab.

 

Incubators:

The University of Kentucky’s ASTeCC is a business incubator that helps grow early-stage technology companies based on UK research.

A partnership between Commerce Lexington and the City of Lexington, the Bluegrass Business Development Partnership aims to support Lexington-based small businesses.

Despite its name, Edelen Strategic Ventures is more of a small business incubator than venture capital firm.

With locations around the state, including one in Lexington, the Kentucky Small Business Development Center runs programs to support small business and entrepreneurship.

KY Innovation is an organization that connects entrepreneurs and small businesses from around the state of Kentucky to valuable resources to help them grow and succeed.

Run by the Lexington Pasta Garage, Lexington Incubator Kitchen provides commercial kitchen space and support to food-based startups.

 

Accelerators:

Among the resources organized by Awesome Inc. is a Fellowship Program that works with early-stage technology startups for up to a year at a time.

Based in Lexington, Empire Builders is a virtual accelerator and business consulting company that works with and invests in startups located anywhere.

Located just down the road in Richmond, KY, Eastern Kentucky University students can participate in the university’s accelerator and incubator program.

Angel Investor Startup Search Tool

 

Colleges/Universities:

Though none are explicitly entrepreneurship, Bluegrass Community & Technical College offers a number of varying related degrees in their Business Administration Systems program.

In addition to the business degrees offered by EKU’s School of Business, the university has an accelerator and incubator program for student startups.

The Business Administration major at Transylvania University includes a management track and courses focusing on entrepreneurship.

The University of Kentucky’s Von Allman Center for Entrepreneurship organizes a number of resources for entrepreneurial students both in and out of the classroom.

 

Angel Groups/VCs:

Bluegrass Angels aims to invest in and work with promising technology startups from around the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Founded in Lexington in 2013, the Cherub Fund aims to be a simple, entrepreneur-friendly investment group for Kentucky-based companies.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development runs the Commonwealth Seed Capital Fund, which invests in early-stage Kentucky businesses.

A group of angel investors from the Commonwealth of Kentucky and a handful of other states, Kentucky Angels provides early-stage investments to Kentucky startups.

A Glimpse Into Thinking Like an Angel Investor

 

Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

Smiley Pete Publishing includes Business Lexington and offers the Business Lexington Weekly Wire among its other newsletters.

The Lane Report, which covers business news from around the state, offers online subscriptions and access to a newsletter.

The Lexington Herald-Leader runs business stories, though none of their several newsletters specifically focus on it.

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

Interested in other US Cities in the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight?

Louisville, KY, Cincinnati, OH, Chicago, IL


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 Funding$age where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.