Soapbox's "Sink or Swim" invites entrepreneurs to test the water in Covington

With a constant buzz about new restaurants, shops and tech startups in town, Covington is alive with an energy it hasn’t experienced in decades.

But the truth is, not every new business succeeds. In fact, across the nation, fewer than half of new businesses will last longer than five years. This means the oft-imagined 50-year-old family business is the exception; failure is, in fact, the rule.

Joe Fessler owns Herb & Thelma's pub in Lewisburg.Covington is not immune to the fragility of new business endeavors, and every startup is a gamble. But Covington’s landscape is ripe with opportunity for new businesses and business expansion.

So, if it’s time for an entrepreneur to take a chance and finally launch that startup business, then Covington is a great place to give it a try.

But how can a business owner know whether or not their big idea will survive the complex world of entrepreneurship?

For those interested finding their place in Covington’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, Soapbox will present Sink or Swim: Surviving entrepreneurship in Covington on July 27, hosted by the NKY Innovation Network.

This free event is part of Soapbox’s ongoing series, On the Ground. For 12 weeks, On the Ground will be embedded in Covington, exploring the people, places and projects that are beginning to mold the city’s new narrative. Highlights have included: Click here for the full list of Covington stories thus far.

Lindsey Whittle and Annie Brown of Pique Gallery.Sink or Swim will pit a panel of local experts against an audience comprised of Covington residents, leaders and present/future entrepreneurs to test their knowledge of what a winning business plan looks like.

In this gameshow-style presentation, a team of seasoned Covington leaders will pitch a business concept — real, imagined or re-imagined. The audience will then vote on whether the concept would be likely to “sink” or “swim” in Covington’s business scene. Once pitches have been presented and the votes are tallied, experts will reveal the truth about their business pitch, plus offer insider perspective and trial-and-error advice for what makes a winning (or losing) business concept. An entrepreneurial Q&A with panelists will follow, time permitting.

On the Ground lead writer Liz McEwan will emcee the event.

Sink or Swim will take place at the NKY Innovation Network’s Covington office and event space located in startup ground zero, Innovation Alley. The Innovation Network’s mission is to connect regional entrepreneurs to mentors and support systems that will help start or grow their businesses.

"The Innovation Network (formerly the ezone) has been a part of the economic development fabric of Covington since 2001," says executive director Casey Barach. "We have seen, and been a part of, the ups and downs of this great river city over the last 16 years. We love being a part of it all!"

Covington artist and restaurateur Emily Wolff.Local vendors The Delish Dish and Second Sight Spirits will provide light food and drinks.

Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. for food, drinks and networking. The SINK! or SWIM? game begins at 6 p.m.

The address is 1 Innovation Alley, but use 632 Russell St. for directions via Google Maps. Space is limited. Register online today!

The Northern Kentucky Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation is proud to underwrite Soapbox’s On the Ground: Covington series. The Northern Kentucky Fund believes that highlighting the successes and challenges in our community fosters effective dialog and action, creating communities where everyone can thrive. Other On the Ground partners include The Center for Great Neighborhoods, which is working collaboratively toward community transformation with series sponsor Place Matters partners LISC and United Way of Greater Cincinnati. Data and analysis is provided by The Economics Center.
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