Community Foundation of Louisville announces the 23rd Vogt Awards cohort

The Community Foundation of Louisville announced the recipients of its 23rd Vogt Invention and Innovation Awards. These six early-stage companies will receive $25,000 in non-dilutive grant funding and participation in a 10-week accelerator program. 

The Vogt Awards will culminate with Demo Day on Thursday, Oct. 12, at 5:30 p.m. at the Kentucky Derby Museum, where the founders will present their ideas and share how their companies are impacting the local, regional, and national business community.

This year’s dynamic cohort is developing big ideas and innovative solutions in health care, media and entertainment, virtual reality, software, and e-commerce. The recipients are:

Affinna – An event ticketing and fan engagement platform that specializes in offering ticket booking and selling services for event organizers, creators, and event hosts to build more meaningful relationships with their authenticated fans, enabling fans to book tickets at low, transparent fees. Founder is Dan Ross-Li.

Feedcoyote – A business network platform that combines an integrated management tool with the lead generation business network that fosters better collaboration and closed deals augmented with CRM capabilities to help entrepreneurs, freelancers, independent contractors and small-business owners manage their gigs, automate their work, share skills and earn more. Founder is Stevens Bonhomme.

Gamerabble – An online coaching platform that offers tutors for gamified e-sports coaching, training and development, enabling gamers to improve their gaming skills. Founders are Cecile Matthews and Chris Matthews.

Immersive Hearing Technologies – An immersive, three-dimensional user experience in a virtual world for a hearing aid demonstration tool that improves patient outcomes and sells more hearing aids. Founders are Matthew Neal and Jeff Cummins.

My Food My Choice – A digital platform that empowers people with neurodevelopmental disorders to plan and choose healthier food options, solving caregiver and client pain points of disagreements over food, client ownership of food choices, and health improvement through better nutrition. Founder is Terri Lykins.

The Kentucky Hug – A web and mobile app that centralizes and showcases available distillery experiences and tickets across Kentucky, simplifying the process of booking bourbon tours and enabling businesses to get information about visitors. Founders are Eddie Fieldhouse and David Galownia.

The Vogt Awards are funded by the Vogt Invention and Innovation Fund at the Community Foundation, an endowment established in 1999 thanks to the generosity of businessman and philanthropist Henry Vogt Heuser Sr. The Fund’s purpose is to strengthen Louisville’s economic health by supporting innovative startups and inspiring entrepreneurship. The Fund’s originating $5 million principal is still intact after providing 108 grants totaling more than $3.9 million, with 38% of those funds going to women or founders of color. Past recipients have gone on to secure an additional $163 million in follow-on local investment.

Not only does this unique program allow founders to retain full ownership of their businesses, it provides innumerable benefits beyond what traditional accelerators offer. This includes startup coaching from some of Louisville’s most experienced advisors; mentor matching with later-stage entrepreneurs and investors; high-caliber networking with Louisville’s startup community; investor pitch preparation; and strategic introductions to angel investors, venture funds, influencers, customers and partners. 

“The Community Foundation is dedicated to advancing the big ideas and bold actions necessary to move our community forward, and the Vogt Awards program embodies that mission,” says Ron Gallo, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Louisville. “More than 20 years ago, Mr. Heuser secured a legacy of fostering business and industry through generosity. This year’s cohort of ground-breaking disruptors will continue the program’s long tradition of impact through innovation.”

Recipients were thoughtfully chosen by a selection committee made up of leading entrepreneurs and investors and past Vogt Award recipients. For the second year, the committee was led by Chair Monique Quarterman, Executive Director of Kentucky Innovation at the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development

Committee members were:

  • Zeeshan Bhatti, Keyhorse Capital
  • Buddy Bockweg, Vsimple
  • Michael Boone, yLoft
  • Jeremiah Chapman, FreshFry
  • Tendai Charasika, Saling Wealth Advisors/UofL Entrepreneur-in-Residence
  • Kerry DeMuth, RevLocal
  • Demetrius Gray, Captain
  • Maggie Harlow, Signarama Downtown
  • Moses Icyishaka, Iriba Capital
  • Kela Ivonye, Protege/University of Louisville
  • Haleh Karimi, Bellarmine University
  • Raffi Kayat, Borderless
  • Robert LaMothe, Commonwealth Seed Capital
  • Greg Langdon, startup advisor and investor
  • Mario Mazzone, Keyhorse Capital
  • Jake Miller, independent consultant
  • Brett Moreno, Anteriad
  • Akhil Suresh Nair, Xena Intelligence
  • Susan Olson, Action Intel
  • Steven Plappert, Forecastr
  • Chris Redd, Network ‘N Chill 
  • Julia Regan, RxLightning
  • Grace Simrall, iGlass Analytics
  • Alli Truttmann, Wicked Sheets
  • Telpriore “Greg” Tucker, UofL Research & Innovation
  • Chris Weidmar, Party Horses

“The Vogt Awards is a shining example of how philanthropy can be a champion for entrepreneurship, and we have Mr. Heuser and the Community Foundation to thank for that,” says Quarterman. “The recipients this year represent the very best and brightest innovators in the Louisville region. It’s truly a wonderful and difficult task to choose six early-stage businesses out of many outstanding applicants. I can’t wait to see how the connections and knowledge they gain from this program will set them up for long-term success.

For more information about the Vogt Awards program, visit Demo Day is free and open to the public, but space is limited. Register for Demo Day today.