5 Key Traits That Make a Great Vogt Awards Candidate

By: Lisa Bajorinas, Vogt Awards Program Director 


Each year, up to six early-stage businesses are selected to participate in a 10-week accelerator program and receive $25,000 in non-dilutive grant funding through the Vogt Invention and Innovation Awards. Meticulously crafted to accelerate company growth, this program encompasses invaluable components such as startup coaching, mentorship from seasoned entrepreneurs, business workshops, strategic introductions, and recognition. Unlike many other business accelerator initiatives, the Vogt Awards empower founders to retain full ownership of their business throughout the process. 

This year’s recipients will join the ranks of Vogt Awards alumni Feedcoyote, The Kentucky HugRxLightning, Forecastr, Xena Intelligence, Melanated Healthcare, and FreshFry, to name a few.  

Benefits of the Program 

Businesses can benefit from: 

  • Startup coaching from some of Louisville’s most experienced advisors 
  • Mentor matching with later-stage entrepreneurs and investors 
  • Business workshops from subject matter experts 
  • High-caliber networking with Louisville’s startup community 
  • Investor pitch preparation 
  • Strategic introductions to angel investors, venture funds, influencers, customers, and partners 

Accelerator program topics include financial modeling, product/market fit, investment readiness, lead generation, and sales. To cap it off, you’ll present your business at this year’s Demo Day in October 2024.   

What We’re Looking For  

The best candidates for the Vogt Awards are founders and entrepreneurs who are open to guidance, run businesses that show potential, and care deeply about fixing big problems. Ideal candidates are eager to shake things up in their industry by coming up with new ideas, getting more customers, and forming important partnerships. Plus, they can explain why they are a perfect fit to tackle these challenges. 

We’re looking for a strong for-profit business applicant who has: 

  • A prototype. The business is beyond the concept/idea stage and has an early technology prototype or MVP (minimum viable product) 
  • An innovation-led product or service. The business is developing an innovation-led product or service. The Vogt Awards define innovation as a new idea or the invention of a new product or service that creates customer demand. The business is using technology, developing a new product or service, making use of new technological advances to better serve customers, gaining a competitive advantage, and/or evolving the marketplace 
  • An identity as an early-stage business. The business is in the early stages, with customer revenue of less than $250,000/year to date.The business has a lifetime funding maximum of $500,000 (this includes grants, investments, and loans but excludes founders’ personal investments) 
  • An intellectual asset. The product or service being developed has a protectable advantage (intellectual asset) in the market 
  • A scalable business model. The business is developing a scalable business model — revenue has the potential to grow quickly, along with improving profitability 

How Traits Are Evaluated 

The 2024 Vogt Awards Selection Committee will evaluate the strength and merit of each applicant based on the following characteristics: 

  • Leadership: The founder(s) understands the problem they are solving, cares about the problem, is coachable, and can execute/scale the business
  • Solution: The solution solves a pain point for customers
  • Market: The solution has a large, total addressable market 


  • Validation: The business has validated the market
  • Advantage: The business has a protectable competitive advantage
  • Exit: There is a potential exit path for the business
  • Economic Impact: The business is potentially venture-backable and will have an eventual economic impact in the Louisville region (e.g., job creation, payroll taxes, talent attraction, indirect investment in the community) 


 Apply by May 28, 2024, to be part of this year’s Vogt Awards program!