When we think of entrepreneurship hubs, our minds often turn to bustling cities like New York, San Francisco, and Seattle. But we’d argue that the state of Kentucky and the surrounding region have been quietly building entrepreneur-led powerhouses for years. Established, globally-recognized companies like Humana, Ventas, Brown-Forman, Alltech, Texas Roadhouse, YUM Brands, and more all have roots in the state, while smaller startups are constantly popping up.
The same resources that allowed these corporations to flourish are currently powering a new set of entrepreneurial ventures in the state. Entrepreneurs like Stacy Griggs of El Toro, Nate Morris of Rubicon Global, and Mike Davis of Appriss, for example, have all taken advantage of the state’s access to talent and global resources when building their companies.
The same can be said for Aaron Gani of BehaVR, Alice Shade of SentryHealth, Demetrius Gray and Jermaine Watkins of WeatherCheck, Rebecca Wheeling of Schedule It, and Jonathan Bostock and Alex Reed of Truman’s — five Kentucky-based entrepreneurs that we believe are ones to watch in 2019 and beyond. Not only have these companies seen their fair share of success in the last few years, their business models are scaling and their company missions are rooted in impact through entrepreneurship. Below, read up on five Kentucky entrepreneurs we have our eye on this year.
1. Aaron Gani of BehaVR.
Armed with the goal of improving health nationwide, Aaron Gani created BehaVR—a virtual reality technology that helps users improve their mental, emotional, and physical health. Created by a team of clinicians, healthcare professionals, and virtual reality developers, Gani and Founding Partner Bill Frist view BehaVR as an alternative to our traditional healthcare system. “We believe that information can be powerful, but knowledge alone does not translate to long-term, sustained change in health outcomes,” reads their website. ”Our healthcare system needs a modern solution to meet the challenge of lowering barriers to health, empowering healthy choices, and turning the tide on chronic disease. We believe that lasting behavior change, powered by virtual reality technology, can create a prosperous society where people live healthier, longer, and more productive lives.”
2. Alice Shade of SentryHealth.
Louisville-based SentryHealth is healthcare-executive-turned-entrepreneur Alice Shade’s attempt to fix our inefficient healthcare system at an employer/employee level. Billed as the “cure for a broken healthcare system,” SentryHealth reduces medical, pharmacy, and disability costs for employers, improves the health of employees and covered dependents, and generally delivers higher-value, lower-cost healthcare to workplaces. “SentryHealth is different from other healthcare providers because we provide proactive, convenient, person-centered care that empowers employees and covered dependents to get ahead of their physical, mental and emotional health risks in order to take charge of their lives,” reads their website. “We maximize the value of your employee healthcare dollars, resulting in meaningful savings that you can re-invest in your business.”
3. Jonathan Bostock & Alex Reed of Trumans.
Lexington-based non-toxic cleaning company Truman’s has fundamentally changed the “cleaning supplies” aisle in more ways than one. Baffled by the sheer amount of cleaning products lining the supermarket shelves, founders Jonathan Bostock and Alex Reed created a line of just four non-toxic cleaning products: an all-purpose cleaner, a glass cleaner, a floor cleaner, and a shower cleaner. “We started Truman’s because, while we’re somewhat obsessed with cleaning, we’re totally obsessed with reducing waste and clutter,” reads their website. “ Nobody needs a gazillion cleaning products with harsh chemicals cluttering their cabinets, and our planet certainly doesn’t need the plastic empties.” Each product comes equipped with refill cartridges, so you can safely and effectively clean all of your home’s hard surfaces with just four products. Truman’s recyclable products reduce plastic waste by more than 90%, and, at just $3.75 per refill plus free shipping, save the average consumer money. Unsurprisingly, Truman’s was named to Fast Company’s list of world-changing ideas for 2019.
4. Rebecca Wheeling of Schedule It.
Through her work as an independent insurance adjuster in Elizabethtown, KY, Rebecca Wheeling saw a glaring need for a comprehensive workflow solution. With that, Schedule It was born. The scheduling solution allows insurance adjusters to handle claims more efficiently, increase customer satisfaction, eliminate distracting tasks, and improve their overall bottom line. “Field adjusters who use Schedule It receive 100% confidential handling of their claim assignments and the ability to have more time in their day to focus on closing claims,” reads their website. “What would you do with another 3 hours a day if someone had already routed, called, and scheduled all your appointments?” Wheeling was recognized as an emerging entrepreneur by the Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame in 2016, and was just named the new president of the National Association of Catastrophe Adjusters (NACA) in February of 2019.
5. Demetrius Gray and Jermaine Watkins of WeatherCheck.
Louisville-based WeatherCheck has successfully gained an element of control over something categorically uncontrollable: the weather. By pinpointing severe weather down to the street address, sending property owners timely damage reports, and facilitating insurance claims and home repairs, founders Gray and Wakins have effectively disrupted the insurance industry. “Whether you own 20 homes or 2,000, WeatherCheck can tell you when to use insurance for covered repairs,” reads the website. “Our team of weather scientists, AI professors, climatologists, cloud computing engineers, and claims analysts is the only one in the country providing the address-specific information owners require to minimize out-of-pocket expense, maximize profit, and safeguard investment.” WeatherCheck was featured in Hypepotamus and MReport, and was recently named to Forbes’ list of the 22 most innovative technology companies to watch at CES 2019. WeatherCheck is also the first Louisville-based company to receive a standard funding deal and complete an intensive three-month training session with Y Combinator’s Winter 2019 funding batch.
If you’re a high-impact entrepreneur and want to learn more about the Endeavor network, reach out to us via our application page. We’d love to hear from you!