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NKU Hosts Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs

Demo Day


August 12, 2019— Northern Kentucky University hosted the 2019 session of the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs (GSE), ensuring 72 talented students across the Commonwealth had the entrepreneurial experience of a lifetime this summer. 

With only 20 percent of applicants accepted, GSE brought an immersive, rigorous residential experience. Young entrepreneurs left the program with real-world tools for starting a business and a statewide network of contacts, including new peers, businesses and entrepreneurs.

While building a working team, students toured 15 start-ups and businesses, met and learned from more than 40 seasoned entrepreneurs and spent over 240 hours developing and crafting business models. Businesses from across the state, including Toyota TMMK, Forest Giant, El Toro, Awesome Inc. and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, welcomed students into their spaces.

GSE concluded with Demo Day, a professional competition where teams showcased their growth over the program’s 21 days. Teams created a business model around a product or service, designed a prototype and pitched their ideas in front of an audience to a panel of judges. Winning teams went home with cash prizes.

The panel included Jonathan Webb, CEO of AppHarvest; Ramel “Smooth” Bradley, former UK basketball player and current community director of AppHarvest; Rebecca Wheeling, CEO of Schedule It; and Meg Rush, a digital management consultant.

“One of the things I love about GSE is that the entrepreneurial journey of our teens starts after the program ends,” said Natasha Sams, GSE director. “To date, we have helped inspire the launch of eight LLCs, multiple patents have been filed and we have hundreds of young, talented individuals interacting and engaging in Kentucky’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Our impact is economic, and the best is yet to come.” 

Award recipients:

1st place: Pawject SOS | A durable tracking collar attachment that connects to an app to help pet owners safely and quickly track lost or missing pets via GPS.

2nd place: BounceBack | An app that uses sonar technology, which exists in most smartphones, to monitor, track and combat anxiety and panic attacks.

3rd place: Bare Water Co. | A brand focused on transitioning from plastic water bottles to water-filled aluminum cans, complete with resealable tops, that are infinitely recyclable. 

Through collaborations with collegiate partners, GSE provides more than $2.7 million in scholarship funding opportunities to Kentucky high school students each year.

About GSE: Established in 2013, GSE focuses on exposing teens to entrepreneurship so they can see the world differently. The GSE is a partner program with the Governor’s School for the Arts and the Governor’s Scholars Program. More than 350 student entrepreneurs have received scholarship funding through the program. To learn more about GSE, visit

About NKU: Founded in 1968, we are a growing metropolitan university of more than 14,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus near Cincinnati. Located in the quiet suburb of Highland Heights, Kentucky—just seven miles southeast of Cincinnati—we have become a leader in Greater Cincinnati and Kentucky by providing a private school education for a fraction of the cost. While we are one of the fastest growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students' names. For more information, visit