A First Timer’s Take on Idea Festival

An entrepreneur and good friend of the KIX team, Burt Walker, was a first time attendee to Idea Festival this year.  We graciously agreed to be a guest blogger and share his experience.


I’ve been hearing great things about Idea Festival for years, but until this year, I’ve never attended.   This year I had no excuse and fortunately, I was given a chance to attend as a guest of the Kentucky Innovation Network. On the way home, I scolded myself for waiting this long to attend as I contemplated all the ones I’d missed in the past.

I’m an entrepreneur and when I attend events like this, I inevitably do so looking through that lens.  On the continuum of level-of-interest in entrepreneurship ranging from say, “bored” to “very interested,” I fall well into the category of “obsessed.”

The latest and biggest buzzword in world of entrepreneurs, startups, and innovation is “Disruption.”  In the lexicon of the average person, this is usually a word with negative connotations.  Not so among the community of entrepreneurs.  Disruption is a great thing.  If a startup can be disruptive to its industry and offer value, it has a much better chance of succeeding.  It’s the equivalent of  “a better mousetrap.”  So, when I noted that one of the goals of Idea Festival is to create a collaborative environment of disruptive change, I knew it was something that would be of great interest to me.

I attended on the first full day, and it was clear to me there was a theme.  It was about communication, and primarily about unique, and often overlooked ways of communicating more successfully.

I learned that it is indeed possible to think like Sherlock Holmes from a noted author and how magicians manipulate and fool the smartest among us from a professional magician.  I also heard firsthand what it’s like to be imprisoned for 16 years for something you didn’t do and how poor communication and preconceived ideas resulted in the speaker’s wrongful conviction.  And finally, I saw how stand-up comedy isn’t just about being funny.  It’s actually sometimes practiced with scientific precision.  What’s more, comedy can often lead to people listening to and seeing things from a different perspective, when all other forms of communication would fail.   All of these talks were evenly woven with the theme of creative and often unrecognized forms of communication and how they can be used in beneficial ways.

As a businessman, it’s not hard to understand the importance of effective communication, but sometimes, we need to take off our old hats and put on new ones, just so we can see and understand things from a different point of view.  As an entrepreneur, its value is even more pronounced because we often need to communicate new ideas to people who are often very skeptical and uninterested.

My first day at Idea Festival was enormously rewarding.  I was amused, enlightened, informed, educated, and inspired.  It was evident from the diverse group in attendance, that it would be the same for people of all areas of professional life.  After all, who doesn’t benefit from better communication? It’s hard to think a day like that could be anything but worth the time and effort to attend.

I encourage anyone, regardless of age or area of interest to attend Idea Festival.  And by the way, if you go to Idea Festival and you don’t come away a better person,…well, I recommend seeing a therapist.

They’re Looking for a Few Great Ideas

Attention Indiana Entrepreneurs — Mark August 28 on your calendars. That’s when the 2nd Annual Risk-It Competition, sponsored by the Southeast Indiana Small Business Development Center (ISBDC), is being held.

“The competition is a great opportunity for Indiana entrepreneurs to show off their best and most innovative ideas,” said Blayr Barnard,  Regional Director, ISBDC. “So if you’re an entrepreneur with an exceptional idea for a new business, product, or process, you are encouraged to enter.”

Six to eight finalists will be chosen by members of the Southeast ISBDC, from entries received prior to July 15, 2013, and contacted by email. And all entries will be eligible for no-cost counseling from ISBC’s knowledgeable staff.

Finalists will travel to historic Madison, Indiana’s Venture Out Business Center on August 28 to present their ideas to assembled guests and a select panel of judges. Each finalist will have five minutes to make their pitch to the audience and judges, and both the audience and judges will vote on the idea that they believe to be the best and most marketable.

Three awards will be given: the Judge’s 1st and 2nd Place Awards, and the People’s Choice Award. The Judge’s winners will receive cash awards: $2500 for 1st place, $1000 for 2nd, as well as other valuable benefits including the opportunity to work with the ISBDC and other local business professionals to develop their idea into a viable business venture. The People’s Choice winner will receive half of admission fees (based on audience size).  Winners be announced that night and further honored at the LEADS Indiana Awards Luncheon in Jeffersonville, Indiana on November 13, 2013.

To learn more about the Risk-It competition, and to submit your entry, visit www.Riskitindiana.org. It’s a great opportunity to help bring your best idea to fruition, and a great way for Indiana to encourage entrepreneurial thinking.

Disney Institute Coming to Ivy Tech, Teaching Creativity and Innovation

Our region is a place where innovation and creativity are encouraged and valued. And this year, we again have the opportunity to learn from one of the most creative, successful and innovative organizations in the world.

That’s right The Walt Disney Company is coming back to Indiana. The professional development arm of The Walt Disney Company, Disney Institute, will be at Ivy Tech Community College in Southern Indiana on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM.

The Disney Institute operates to engage organizations in time-tested best practices, sound methodologies, and real life business lessons that facilitate corporate culture change.

Ivy Tech Community College is offering the program, “Disney’s Approach to Creativity and Innovation.” Learn how the company continues to successfully engage and organize the creative power of its employees.  This interactive full-day event will teach participants skills to analyze their own organizations, and innovative ways to  create action steps that will maximize the flow of creativity among their employees.

Who Should Attend
Managers and those interested in benchmarking the business practices of the highly regarded Disney Company, learning more about their well deserved reputation for creativity and innovation, and how to foster this type of culture within your organization.

You will learn how to:

  • Adapt Disney concepts and practices for optimizing creativity and innovation.
  • Structure a foundation for a collaborative culture within your organization.
  • Promote an organizational identity that unites employees in a common purpose.
  • Encourage risk taking with a strong, well-communicated organizational identity.
  • Improve business results through effective structural systems.
  • Evaluate the links between leadership and organizational creativity and innovation.

Here are more specifics, including registration and cost information:

Who: Organization Executives, Business Managers & Team Leaders

When: Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM

Where:  Ivy Tech Community College Ogle Hall, Horseshoe Community Room

8204 Highway 311, Sellersburg, IN  47172


Early Bird Special……..$359.00
After July 2, 2013……..$399.00
Group of 4……………..$1,400.00 ($350.00 per person)
Group of 8……………..$2,500.00 ($312.50 per person)

Groups/Registration: Angela Henderson (800) 321-9021 ext. 4704 or


Additional Questions: Michael Wolf (812) 248-4232 or mwolf36@ivytech.edu

Register Online: www.ivytech.edu/disneyinstitute

image credit

Novak Talks Talent, Culture and Growth at “What’s Brewing”

Taking people with youThere are thousands of make-it-happen, problem-solving CEOs guiding businesses and influencing economies across the world with a variety of leadership styles. Our region is home to Chief Executive magazine’s “CEO of the Year,” David Novak, president and CEO of Yum! Brands Inc. Novak recently joined Business First publisher Tom Monahan and a group of local business leaders to discuss the importance of recognizing people, his dedication to creating a great corporate culture and being on the ground floor of global growth.

Attracting talent to Louisville is not an issue for Yum! Brands. According to Novak, “You can get great people if you have the right business, culture and leadership.” Novak says that people want to work for companies that have growth, recognized brands and a heart. He proudly noted that no other company has people like those who make up the team at Yum! “Our people are smart and nice, and that’s the key to our success,” Novak said. He personally coaches approximately 100 people in the company.

Yum! is known for its emphasis on public recognition and rewarding people. Novak’s office is covered with photos of people who have been recognized within the company. The special culture he built at KFC was one of the reasons Novak decided to keep the corporate headquarters for Yum! Brands (then Tricon Global Restaurants, Inc.) in Louisville when KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell spun off from PepsiCo in 1997. He wanted people to see the example that KFC was setting for the rest of the world. “It works everywhere,” he said, “and people told me it wouldn’t.”

Yum! executives made another key decision in 1997 to focus on international growth, and it has paid off. Emerging markets currently make up 60 percent of the company’s profits. With business booming in countries like China, India and Russia and 600 stores in Africa, Novak stressed the importance of local talent and the huge opportunities that exist in international markets. “We are so global, we think we can teach others,” Novak said. “We want to be the defining company for how you do that.”

Novak recently released a new book entitled, Taking People With You: The Only Way to Make BIG Things Happen, to teach others his approach to leading a great organization. All of the proceeds from the book go to the United Nations World Food Programme as part of Yum!’s commitment to fight world hunger. The company has raised $120 million in the last 10 years for its hunger relief effort, including $10 million locally for the Dare to Care Food Bank.

Be sure to get the full story on Novak’s one-on-one with Tom Monahan in the Septemeber 14 issue of Busines First.

image courtesy of takingpeoplewithyou.com

Downtown Jeffersonville Commercial Property Tour

Jeffersonville Commercial Property TourThe City of Jeffersonville, Indiana is taking a unique approach to attracting entrepreneurs and businesses to the area. Entrepreneurs seeking to open or expand a small business are invited to attend Jeffersonville Main Street’s Downtown Jeffersonville Commercial Property Tour on Friday, July 13 from 5pm-7pm. This is a self-guided tour and those interested in opening a business in Jeffersonville’s Historic Downtown District can view seven available properties. The registration area for this free tour will be at Perkfection Café, 359 Spring Street.

The Downtown Jeffersonville Commercial Property Tour is a perfect way to meet property owners and explore available spaces. It also provides an opportunity to find out what programs the City of Jeffersonville, Jeffersonville Urban Enterprise Association, Jeffersonville Main Street Inc., and the Downtown Merchants Association offer to create a supportive, small business-friendly environment.

The tour will begin at Perkfection Café, 359 Spring Street, where participants must check-in to receive their list of the seven properties open during the tour. All properties are within easy walking distance of the registration area. The tour is presented by the Business Development Committee of Jeffersonville Main Street Inc., a nonprofit organization working to revitalize Jeffersonville’s Historic Downtown District.

City Officials, Main Street Committee Members, and business owners will be on hand to discuss grants and marketing tools available to new businesses. Additionally, representatives will be available at open properties to show each space and give lease or purchase details. After the tour, participants are encouraged to enjoy the Wine Walk & Shop event that takes place that evening inside the shops of downtown Jeffersonville.

For more information on the Downtown Jeffersonville Property Tour, call Jay at 812.283.0301.

Agritourism: What it means for our region

Agritourism in Kentucky and IndianaWhile tomorrow may be Derby Day, another annual tradition will be underway in LaRue County – the 4th annual Strawberry Festival at Hinton’s Orchard & Farm Market. Jeremy and Joanna Hinton purchased the farm in 2006 and since then have invited thousands of their closest friends to join in the fun, offering not just fresh fruits and vegetables, but a whole host of activities for the family to enjoy on this working farm.

The Hinton’s are just one example of farmers who are reaping the benefits of agritourism in our region. Agritourism has been touted as one of the fastest growing segments of the agriculture industry. If you’re not familiar with the term, it simply means, “The act of visiting a working farm or any agricultural, horticultural, or agribusiness operation for the purpose of enjoyment, education or active involvement in the activities of the farm or operation.”

Our region is home to dozens of active agritourism destinations – a celebration of the family farm and the entrepreneurial spirit of our region. A few more that caught our attention:

Maple Hill Manor
Springfield, KY

This working farm is located in the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky and the home situated on the farm is considered one of the best preserved Antebellum Homes in the Commonwealth. The attraction of staying in a beautiful bed-and-breakfast is the primary draw for this agritourism business. It has won number awards including being voted “Top 10 Innkeepers” in the U.S. by BedandBreakfast.com 2010-2011.

Hubor’s Winery
Starlight, IN

This family-run farm was started with 80 acres of farmland by Simon Huber. The farm has now been expanded to over 600 acres. Originally from Germany, Simon brought along his years of experience in fruit growing and wine making. With expertise and hard work, this agritourism business has acquired over 900 gold, silver & bronze awards from wine competitions from all regions of the United States.

Fair Oaks Farms
Fair Oaks, IN

By using sustainable farming practices and high-quality ingredients, Fair Oaks Farms is a working farm that has award-winning dairy products – artisan cheese, fresh milk, homemade ice cream, and specialty butter. With an up-close look at sustainable dairy farming at its finest, this agritourism business offers wholesome fun for the entire family.

And there are so many more.

Support our local farmers and the businesses they’ve created by visiting a local farm in your area. Check out a list of agritourism destinations in Kentucky and Indiana.

Lessons from #GLIDEToronto On Thinking Big: Out of this World Innovation

The KIX team has the privilege of traveling this week with GLIDE, which stands for Greater Louisville Idea Development Expedition. This is a remarkable group of engaged community leaders from our region and we’re visiting a place that clearly thinks big.

Yesterday we took a trip to MaRS, and no, we didn’t leave planet earth! We stayed right here Toronto.

The MaRS Centre – in the heart of Canada’s largest city, TorontoMaRS was an idea that started in 2000 when a group of visionary leaders and organizations asked the question — Is there a better way to capture the commercial potential of Toronto’s $1 billion in annual science and technology research spending?

The answer was “Yes.”

And it was all about a having a space in the city dedicated to innovation – where ideas are cultivated and inventions are commercialized.

But what began as Medical and Related Sciences (“MaRS”) became much more, no longer an acronym but rather a physical place, an organization, and for that matter, a virtual space where not only science and technology but also social entrepreneurs get the help they need.

It is where all kinds of people meet to spark new ideas. And where a global reputation for innovation is being earned, one success story at a time.

The MaRS Centre is in the Discovery District, between the country’s leading teaching hospitals and three major universities, minutes from Canada’s financial center, and steps from provincial and city governments.

The 700,000 square foot mix of heritage and modern architecture has lab facilities and offices; event venues and meeting places; incubator space and retail services and that mix is no accident. MaRS CEO, Dr. Ilse Treurnicht explained that for MaRS to build Canada’s next generation of growth companies it could NOT just be a space for inventors. She said “you have to everyone in the innovation pipeline together” – start-ups, mid-size companies and multinationals, investors, researchers and community developers, professional service firms and retailers.

Can we replicate a concept like this in our region? There are people and organizations working to make that dream a reality – look no further than Nucleus in Louisville and the Mid America Science Park Scottsburg, Indiana.

So the question really is — how can we help them succeed and help our region be a place where imaginations and individuals thrive?

After today’s experience the GLIDE Toronto group will no doubt come back ready to dig in and do their part.

Innovation Can Happen Anywhere

Aneesh Chopra Obama Ideafestival Louisville Kentucky Innovation Aneesh Chopra, President Obama’s Chief Technology Officer, came to IdeaFestival yesterday.  During his energizing and inspiring remarks, he spoke of how we all have the capacity for innovation and that our region can become an entrepreneurial center.  He issued three challenges to our region as we consider how we might become the Idea Capital of the World:

  1. Transform the Healthcare Delivery System – create tools that give us access to data so that we have a system that focuses on value over volume.  Chopra said our region’s world class medical centers provide an ideal testing ground for such innovation.
  2. Create a Learning System that works, one that considers how we learn. Chopra cited a digital tutoring tool the Navy is using as an example.
  3. Unleash a clean energy revolution where access to data can help reduce energy usage.

Chopra also emphasized the importance of transparency and access to data.   He said we can innovate and create new products and services when we liberate data, that transparency and open access sets the conditions for innovation. He cited numerous opportunities built on the data that U.S. taxpayers invest to collect, such as weather apps fed by NOAA databases, video games loaded with real-world topography from NASA and all of our GPS gadgets.  He encouraged everyone to look at the data that is available, to tinker and play, as a way to spur creativity.

Putting this valuable data to work will allow us to solve problems together and we are better solving problems together rather than individually.

What do you think?

More from #IF11 | Neuromarketing: Appealing to Our Reptilian Brains

Patrick Renvoise at IdeaFestival 2011 Louisville Kentucky NeuromarketingUnveiling a remarkable combination of the latest brain research and revolutionary marketing practices, Patrick Renvoise, co-author of Neuromarketing: Understanding the Buy Buttons in Your Customer’s Brain, captivated the IdeaFestival audience Thursday afternoon with an entertaining session on how you can find out exactly how to motivate consumers.

According to Renvoise, the oldest part of our brain, or Reptilian brain, is where most of our buying decisions are made. The visual part of our brain, it’s here where our self-centered desires, needs and fears reside. Neuromarketing can be used to help us appeal to our Reptilian brains, and to better understand consumer buying decisions.

To find out what will motivate a potential customer to consider your product you must first find out what “pain” will be alleviated by using it. This is done through asking questions and identifying that pain. Then, you must differentiate (contrast) how your offer is unique from the competitions, and how it makes the pain go away. The session offered just a glimpse of this interesting concept, but did motivate us to order a copy of the book!

Renvoise innovative presentation was just one highlight of Day 2 at IdeaFestival.

A short clip of Renvoise’s presentation can be found here.

IdeaFestival 2011 Comes to Louisville This Week

IdeaFestival 2011 Logo Louisville Kentucky Southern Indiana Innovation Ideas TechnologyIdeas create the future. This week, September 21-24, IdeaFestival 2011 will bring this belief to life. If you’ve seen our Facebook page or Twitter feed, which exist under the moniker, “Your Idea Counts,” then you know we at KIX hold to this same belief. So, it’s a natural fit for us to be attending this year’s event!

IdeaFestival is a world-class event that celebrates and fosters innovation. It recognizes that much of the game-changing innovation happening in our world occurs when people and ideas from various walks of life come together. Unfortunately, the intersection of disciplines like science, the arts, business, design, technology, education, and medicine is rare because most people just don’t have time to get outside of their “box.” So, IdeaFestival exists to create the space for discussion and exploration and facilitate innovation through the convergence of ideas.

Every year since 2000, leading thinkers from diverse fields have come to celebrate cutting-edge ideas. This year is no different. Among the presenters are U.S. Chief Technology Officer, Aneesh Chopra; former N.B.A. referee Tim Donaghy; singer/songwriter, Janelle Monáe; Army combat veteran and Rhodes Scholar, Wes Moore, along with many more.

IdeaFestival 2011

September 21-24, Louisville, Kentucky

The event kicks off tomorrow with several interesting sessions, one of which is called, “Rethink Louisville,” led by Director of the Innovation Office for the Louisville Kentucky Metropolitan Government, Ted Smith. Like most of the presentations, it will be in the Kentucky Center for the Arts. Another intriguing session on tomorrow’s schedule is “Perfecting Your Entrepreneurial Imagination” — it’s all about starting and growing a profitable innovation-driven company through imagining a product that makes a difference in the world. This lab, like many, is free and open to the public. All you have to do is register.

Are you planning on attending any or all of IdeaFestival? If so, leave us a comment below. Which presenter or topic are you most interested in?