LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The leader of Louisville’s new, state-funded entrepreneurial initiative is out after less than a year on the job.
Patrick Henshaw, who was named CEO of the Louisville Entrepreneur Acceleration Partnership, or LEAP, in February, is no longer employed by the initiative, organizers of LEAP confirmed.
Henshaw has been replaced by Larry Horn, a University of Louisville graduate who has been involved in several local start-up businesses, according to a draft press release obtained by WDRB. Horn started on Monday with LEAP.
Henshaw was told last month that he would be out of a job, according to sources, but neither he nor the board members of LEAP have explained what happened, despite multiple inquiries from WDRB over the last two weeks.
“Patrick has transitioned out of his role with LEAP and we wish him well,” said Will Metcalf, a University of Louisville employee who chairs LEAP’s board, in an email on Tuesday. “As we move forward with our mission of supporting the growth of an innovation ecosystem and setting conditions to help entrepreneurs flourish, the entrepreneurial community has organically identified individuals and organizations as their leaders. To build on this momentum, we are thrilled to have Larry (Horn) lead LEAP into this next phase, especially given his deep understanding of the Louisville community and extensive experience as a founder.”
Henshaw said in a written statement that he was grateful for the job with LEAP.
"I enjoyed working with hundreds of entrepreneurs, startups, corporate innovators and thriving businesses within our ecosystem. I’m happy to have personally helped companies like WeatherCheck and GluConfidence grow and proud to have helped move the (headquarters) of a FinTech company from Manhattan to Louisville," Henshaw said in the statement. "I have never said no, personally or professionally, to this inspiring group of fellow-entrepreneurs and corporate innovators. I look forward to continuing to promote and support the Greater Louisville’s entrepreneurial and innovation momentum."
LEAP is nonprofit consortium of U of L, the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council and XLerateHealth, a Louisville-based accelerator for start-up businesses. LEAP’s goal is “to amplify the greater Louisville region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
Launched in December 2018, LEAP is primarily funded by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, which has committed $2.3 million to the initiative through June 30, 2020, according to budgets obtained under the state open records law.
Henshaw, a military veteran and engineer, came to Louisville from Cincinnati, where he was vice president for growth, startups and technology at a similar organization called Cintrifuse.
Horn, whose title with LEAP is executive director, had in August joined Techstars, a LEAP sub-contractor, as its executive director of ecosystem development. He is also the president of Louisville’s Venture Connectors, an organization that connects investors to startup businesses.
Horn is a co-founder of TNG Pharmaceuticals, a company that grew from U of L’s graduate business school, and more recently, Roth River Inc., a data company serving the bourbon and spirits industry, according to his LinkedIn profile.
In the press release, Horn said he wants to “continue to build upon the foundation laid during my work this year with Techstars to grow Louisville’s entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem by helping founders succeed.
“Louisville has the energy and critical mass required to be an innovation hub, and I look forward to working with the community to accelerate entrepreneurial growth and density,” he said.
Techstars was given a $300,000 contract to help LEAP by producing a report on Louisville's startup ecosystem and other tasks, according to documents previously obtained by WDRB under the state open records law.
Horn will be paid a $120,000 salary, LEAP said. Henshaw had been given a $225,000 salary plus the possibility of as much as $45,000 in bonus pay, according to documents previously obtained by WDRB.
Henshaw would have also been entitled to a cut of investment money raised through a Louisville entrepreneurial fund, but LEAP board members said last spring that the organization had no immediate plans to establish a fund and may never do so.
Metcalf, who is also executive director of research development and strategic initiatives at U of L, acknowledged in an April interview with WDRB that the initiative decided to pay Henshaw “a lot of money.”
“We’re paying him a pretty good salary, but we have big expectations, too,” Metcalf said.
According to the press release, LEAP will soon “formalize” a relationship with Story Louisville, a co-working space for start-up businesses located within the Center by SIDIS entrepreneurial building in NuLu.
“It is amazing how the entrepreneurial community is self-selecting and gravitating to their chosen leaders organically,” Horn said in the release. “We are excited to continue building density through supporting Story and (Story Louisville founder) Natalia (Bishop)’s efforts as Louisville’s vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem continues to grow and thrive.”