LEXINGTON, Ky. — In lieu of the annual entrepreneurial celebration during Global Entrepreneurship Week, Commerce Lexington Economic Development and the University of Kentucky Office of Technology Commercialization launched a new Who Got the Money? website, www.whogotthemoney.com, on Tuesday. The website includes data collected from an annual survey on the area’s entrepreneurial economic impact for the fiscal year and recognizes Lexington’s entrepreneurial community.
While 2020 was a challenging year for all businesses, the survey serves as a reminder of the strong ecosystem startups have built in the Lexington region. The 77 responding companies represented industry sectors in biotechnology, AgTech, advanced manufacturing, e-commerce, independent game development, IT and software development, energy technologies and business services. They reported an average salary of $61,450 for full-time jobs and employed 546 people in Lexington and Central Kentucky, Commerce Lexington said in a press release. The region’s entrepreneurial community created 121 new jobs, raised $51.1 million in capital, and generated $94.5 million in revenue.
“Lexington is often among the nation’s most recession-proof cities due to its diverse economy, a well-educated workforce, and an entrepreneurial spirit that drives innovation and creativity to the highest heights,” said Bob Quick, Commerce Lexington president and CEO. “Even in the face of the ongoing pandemic and economic challenges, Lexington’s entrepreneurial community proved once again that its ecosystem for startups is strong and growing through its recent economic impact survey that reflected robust figures for job growth, capital funds raised and revenue generated. The creativity of our business community has been on display all throughout 2020, as companies large and small continue to pivot their operations to meet the needs of the constantly evolving economy.”
Eric Hartman, associate director for new ventures at the University of Kentucky Office of Technology Commercialization, said Lexington startups have persevered despite the challenges of this year.
“I look forward to seeing Kentucky innovators and entrepreneurs, through their ingenuity and diligent work, invent the new normal of our post-pandemic world,” Hartman said.
Who Got the Money? also recognized 22 recipients of the eAchiever Award for excellence in entrepreneurship. These companies received at least $1 million dollars in funding and/or created five new full-time jobs in Fiscal Year 2020, based on self-reported data from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020.
Who Got the Money? gave a Standout Performance award to Gun Media Holdings, a video game design company and producer of “Friday the 13th, The Game.” The Standout award recognizes a local startup that has had impressive revenue growth and success in raising capital despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Three of our 11 team members moved here from larger states and 2 more are moving here in 2021,” said Wes Keltner, CEO and founder of Gun Media Holdings. “It’s my team that helped our video games skyrocket in sales. It’s their diversity and creative ideas that propelled us forward. It’s also the investor scene in Lexington that cannot go unnoticed. Our games would not have been made without them. There aren’t many companies like Gun in the industry, let alone the state. It takes real vision to look past the potential risks and help push a company like mine forward. Thank you for this award and for your continued support and partnership.”
The 2020 Female Founded Startup of the Year award went to Sarah Alessi, co-founder of Lexington’s FlyWire Cameras. FlyWire, a sustainability platform for fisheries worldwide, combines patented computer vision and artificial intelligence technology with lean manufacturing expertise. This award celebrates the ingenuity, entrepreneurship and the successful venture funding efforts of one of the survey responder female-founded companies.
Adam Brown, Creative Director and Founder of Marrow, the company sponsoring the award, said of FlyWire, “This is a startup that understands if we want to protect our oceans for future generations, we have to remove barriers, not add them. This female co-founded startup is reframing the regulatory obligation as a growth opportunity for fisheries, decreasing resistance to adoption, and introducing data reporting technology to one of the planet’s oldest industries. Marrow is emboldened by FlyWire’s mission for sustainable seas and eager to consult with its co-founders on a brand vision that elevates their technology’s global awareness and perceived value.”
For more information and to see the full list of award winners, please visit www.whogotthemoney.com.