With new Portland headquarters, Interapt wants to bring brightest tech minds to west Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Louisville company is gaining global attention because of what it's been able to accomplish by breaking the mold.

It's not the first time people have told me, 'What the heck are you doing?'" said Interapt's CEO and Founder, Ankur Gopal.

In fact,Gopal has built his business by not listening to the "What the heck are you doings?"

"Interapt  is a Silicon Valley-esque company located in Kentucky," he said.

His latest move raising eyebrows. He moved his computer app building business from a downtown Louisville office building to an old, run-down warehouse at the corner of 13th and Rowan Streets in the Portland neighborhood.

"This is an 1850s building which was formerly the Stage Coach Inn," said local developer Gill Holland. "So back in the days when people traveled by stagecoach, they could stay here."

Gopal said it was a smart business move, but you can't deny the even bigger community impact. 

"We've got a tremendous opportunity to reduce blight in this community at the same time," he said.

Holland hopes this is the start of something big. 

"We feel like the tech community is really going to be the next wave of entrepreneurship and business that comes to the Portland neighborhood," he said.

Interapt, which Gopal, a Kentucky native, started in his garage in 2009, will expand to 48 employees by September. But the company is getting the attention of the entire tech industry and beyond because of who its training for jobs. 

"It's a lot easier to keep someone in Kentucky that likes being here than to convince someone to move here," Gopal said.

Interapt teamed up with Big Sandy Community and Technical College in eastern Kentucky to create a tech-hire internship program. The training is aimed to help Kentuckians in some of the most impoverished areas. The first class of 30 so-called "apprentices" will graduate next month, and some will be hired by Interapt. 

"Taking someone who was in poverty, maybe $12,000 or $15,000 a year, and putting them in a place where they make $40,000 to $50,000 in just six months and be a valuable contributor to society ... I think that's the way we're going to change our country," Gopal said.

And because of the tech hire program -- everyone from the Governor of Wyoming to the folks in Cupertino, California, have asked for meetings with Gopal -- he hopes to bring the tech training model to Louisville and elsewhere. 

"We're in talks to bring it to Louisville," he said. "We're in talks to bring it to other parts of the state."

And he's planning room for it all at his new office space in Portland. 

"This is home, and if this is going to be home, we want to make sure we're doing our part to improve our community and keep our best and brightest here in Louisville and Kentucky," Gopal said.

Interapt could have some new neighbors very soon. Since the tech company's move in April, Gopal said other companies have expressed interest in renting out space in the 28,000-square-foot Portland warehouse.

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