A Bright Future: Entrepreneurs Shine in Northern Kentucky

Learn more about how the region is brimming with entrepreneurial resources.

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Northern Kentucky Entrepreneurs
Courtesy of NKU INKUbator

Innovators, rejoice! Opportunities to start and grow a successful business are good – and getting even better – in Northern Kentucky.

The area’s flourishing entrepreneurial ecosystem is not only encouraging individuals to turn their ideas into thriving business ventures, but employees of area companies are also venturing out to launch their own businesses. For those who take the leap, the area has numerous resources in place to help them succeed, including small-business incentives, incubators and accelerators, loan programs and Northern Kentucky’s low cost of doing business.

Nick Dokich is an innovator who caught the entrepreneurial bug at the early age of 12, selling energy drinks from his backpack. His latest success story came in mid-2018 when he founded Ulimi, a software tech firm in Covington that specializes in artificial intelligence to help employees and bosses converse quickly and easily in the workplace.

“Ulimi means language in Zulu, and this technology helps companies free up their time through voice messaging, rather than texting,” Dokich says. “The way people interact these days with the internet is more of a conversational thing, which is what the Ulimi software is all about.”

Dokich believes Northern Kentucky has the potential to become a leader in entrepreneurial endeavors, pointing out that his company is already integrating high-tech platforms like Chatbox, Google Digital Skills and Alexa Skills.

“I want Covington and all of Northern Kentucky to become a tech giant,” he says. “I don’t just want this region to be the next Silicon Valley or Austin. I want this area to eventually be known as ‘Covington’ by itself for all its technological breakthroughs and accomplishments.”

Introducing Blue North

Brit Fitzpatrick is director of entrepreneurship and innovation for Blue North, a Northern Kentucky Tri-County Economic Development Corporation program. Blue North serves as the front door in Northern Kentucky for entrepreneurs to get connected with accelerators, funding sources, customers and other resources.

“Entrepreneurship will be a big driver of economic growth in Northern Kentucky, especially in the areas focusing on health innovation, supply chain, ecommerce and advanced manufacturing,” Fitzpatrick says.

“Blue North serves as a connection point for entrepreneurs to mission-critical resources so they can put their ideas to work.”

Fitzpatrick says several innovation entities have office space available for entrepreneurs in Northern Kentucky, including Aviatra Accelerators and CovWorx.

Area universities also have their hands in the entrepreneur scene. Northern Kentucky University (NKU) offers the INKUBATOR program to assist its students, faculty and staff, while Xavier University in Cincinnati offers the Start:ME Program. Meanwhile, funds and grants are available to area startup support programs and organizations through funding from the state-run RISE initiative.

Northern Kentucky: NKU INKUBATOR
Courtesy of NKU INKUBATOR

Entrepreneurship Partners in NKY

Northern Kentucky is focused on capturing and catalyzing the growth that small businesses create through partnerships that leverage entrepreneurship and technology programs at NKU and Gateway Community & Technical College and can serve the region’s corporate and health care leaders. Anchor partners to Blue North include NKU, the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) and St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

“Innovation and technology are critical to CVG,” says Brian Cobb, chief innovation officer at CVG.

“We want to make sure we’re working with the best and brightest minds and sourcing talent and technology that can bring CVG into the future.”

NKU’s focus on informatics, bringing technology and data into a cross section of undergraduate degree programs, is creating a pipeline of ideas that can serve companies like DHL and Amazon Air, both of which have hubs at CVG and are key regional stakeholders for the supply chain industry.

“We want entrepreneurs who have an idea that can serve St. Elizabeth, our largest health care system, or CTI, a company providing clinical research and consulting to more than 100 pharmaceutical companies, to start their business here in Northern Kentucky,” Fitzpatrick says. “We offer all the ingredients entrepreneurs need – from start to finish.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin Litwin is the author of Crazy Lucky Dead and a freelance feature writer with a career spanning more than 20 years. He was previously an editor for a small-town newspaper for ... more

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