Corporates, Hubs

Generating Credibility Through Partnerships

How one Venture Hub is utilizing its connection to the local chamber of commerce to connect with corporates.

How one Venture Hub is utilizing its connection to the local chamber of commerce to connect with corporates.

by: Steve Hayton|

March 30, 2023

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Articles | Hubs | Generating Credibility Through Partnerships

The standard model for a chamber of commerce has a lot in common with a Venture Hub. Both are economic development organizations, but chambers tend to be more traditional with cocktail hours, magazines, etc. Their mandate is to support businesses within a local ecosystem. Venture Hubs are more on the side of future venture creation and think more about how to help activate founders. One way to think about the connection is that chambers support growth in the business economy as a whole, and hubs focus their efforts specifically on the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Amplify Louisville is a prime example of this in action. Based in Kentucky, this venture hub is breaking away from a tradition in the Louisville community of having a venture creation organization within a chamber. Today, Amplify is separate from the Greater Louisville chamber but still fosters a powerful relationship.

Amplify’s remit is entrepreneurship, whilst the chamber focuses on corporations, what makes this powerful is the referential credibility generated by the chamber that is then applied to Amplify.

There are two ways these organizations work together, one is to promote the idea of corporates allowing their employees to be mentors in the startup community. “Amplify can facilitate mentorship training and other programs designed to get corporates connected to founders.” Larry Horn, Executive Director at Amplify Louisville explains; “the one that’s got more complex is customer connectivity. The last thing the corporates want is to get hit by a bunch of startups selling products.”

“The one thing I always talk about in our community is how many startups want a large corporation to be their first customer. Unfortunately, it doesn’t normally work out that way.” Larry instead promotes four main areas in that startups can engage with corporates:

  1. Subject matter expertise or mentorship
  2. General product feedback
  3. Pilot trials (free or paid)
  4. Become a customer

“Many startups want a large corporation to be their first customer. Unfortunately, it doesn't normally work out that way.”

Larry Horn, Executive Director, Amplify Louisville

For Larry, being able to be frank with the founders has helped change the dynamic with the corporations Amplify works with. “I tell founders, the corporates know you want their money. Instead, let’s start off with how can you help them?” A lot of corporations are becoming more interested in mentorship. Not only does this present itself as a training tool for junior staff within the corporation, but it also presents an opportunity to convert mentees into paying customers. Larry said; “We’re now starting to see these partnerships starting to take place after about a year of work. That connection through the chamber is now starting to turn into dollars for us.”

Amplify leverage their chamber as the conduit into the corporate community. The chamber has helped Amplify in identifying the 25 to 100 million dollar revenue a year companies that are still founder/owner-led, and most likely don’t have an innovation team or department but could use some help from founders in the sense of hackathons or simply getting access to the products that founders have to offer.

Watch this video to learn more about Amplify Louisville

Amplify Louisville is a place for tech-enabled startups and founders to explore ideas, build solutions, launch products, and grow businesses.


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