Awesome Inc, a tech incubator based in Lexington, Kentucky, has been at the forefront of nurturing a vibrant community of entrepreneurs for over 15 years. It was founded in 2009 with the vision of bringing together entrepreneurs, creatives, and tech enthusiasts, and it has become a driving force in the region’s startup ecosystem.

At the heart of Awesome Inc’s mission lies a deep commitment to fostering collaboration and providing resources to aspiring entrepreneurs. Kevin Mansur, director of strategic relationships for Awesome Inc, said the organization is rooted in the strong community it’s built. “We live in the crosshairs of the creation and education of technology and entrepreneurship.”

Taking a Comprehensive Approach to Entrepreneurship

Awesome Inc offers a comprehensive suite of programs and services designed to support local entrepreneurs at every stage of their journey.  Kinetic Business is proud to have partnered with the organization over the last seven years to help it deliver on its mission of providing startups with the tools, connections and workspace they need to “pursue their definition of awesome.”

One of Awesome Inc’s standout initiatives is the 5 Across Pitch Competition, where five entrepreneurs get a chance to pitch their business ideas to judges and attendees in five minutes or less. The winner receives a prize of $500, but the real prize is the opportunity to expose their business to potential investors and partners, as well as the chance to compete for $55,000 at the 5 Across Pitch Competition Finale.

Voting at the 5 Across event

Voting at the 5 Across event in February 2024.

Another sought after program is the Fellowship Startup Accelerator, which provides invaluable resources and mentorship to Kentucky-based startups. Rather than taking equity or offering loans, the program aims to accelerate growth by providing the necessary fuel for founders to propel their ventures forward.

Fellowship Demo Day 2023

Fellowship Demo Day, Fall 2023

Emily Wehrle, senior director of operations for Awesome Inc, notes that while it’s been around for 15 years, the organization has a startup mentality. “We still work and operate like a startup. We understand the pain points of our entrepreneurs, whether it’s funding challenges or trouble getting access to resources.” This startup mindset permeates every aspect of Awesome Inc’s operations, fostering an environment that celebrates failure as a learning opportunity and encourages innovation.

Coding Education Makes Big Economic Impact

Beyond fostering entrepreneurs, Awesome Inc provides coding education programs aimed at cultivating local tech talent and fueling the startup pipeline. The Web Developer Bootcamp comes with guaranteed job placement in the tech field within six months of graduation and has a 90 percent success rate.

Web Developer Bootcamp by Awesome Inc

Web Developer Bootcamp by Awesome Inc, Fall 2023

Close to 200 participants have transitioned into web development and technology since the program started. “Combined, the entry level salaries for our coding program graduates is north of $5 million. That represents a big economic impact in central Kentucky.  And it is life-changing for someone going from being a barista to a web developer making six-figures,” says Mansur.

Providing a Collaborative and Innovative Workspace

Awesome Inc’s coworking space is a hub of innovation and collaboration. Boasting lightning-fast fiber internet, provided by Kinetic Business, and state-of-the-art amenities, the space attracts a diverse range of companies, from startups to remote workers at big-tech corporations.

Interior of Awesome Inc headquarters

Interior of Awesome Inc headquarters

According to Mansur, one of the most significant advantages of the partnership with Kinetic Business is the internet speed and reliability. The space offers 1 Gig fiber internet, ensuring it can handle even the most demanding workloads, from video conferencing and virtual meetings to web development and graphic design. “We want to offer the people who use our coworking space all the amenities that you would find at a big-tech corporate headquarters. The high-speed internet provided by Kinetic enables seamless communication and collaboration, and the bandwidth can handle anything you can throw at it.”

The Future: Expanding Horizons

Looking ahead, Awesome Inc is poised to continue its growth and impact. One of the organization’s newest initiatives is the Awesome Fund, a venture capital fund aimed at providing financial support to promising startups in the region.

“We’re raising $5 million with the people in the community who are also passionate about growing entrepreneurship and the Kentucky technology sector. With this fund, we’ll be able to start investing in some of the promising companies that we know can make a difference in some way,” says Wehrle. “We’re excited to be able to take this next step and help support startups that need funding to grow to the next level to become even more successful.”

As Awesome Inc continues to evolve, its commitment to building a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem remains unwavering. It will continue to foster collaboration, provide resources, and cultivate a supportive community, shaping the future of entrepreneurship in Kentucky and beyond. We look forward to continuing our work with the Awesome Inc team to enable dreams and innovation in Lexington.