Kentucky is Off to the Races with Plans to Become World-Class Technology Hub

March 28, 2019 11:59:19

Already famous for the Kentucky Derby and its sister competition, the Oaks, the Bluegrass State is racing ahead with plans to become a world-class technology hub. Taking place from April 29 to May 4, 2019, ‘Run for The Unicorns’ is a fintech forum on blockchain, virtual reality and similar technologies that’s set to galvanize Louisville, the state’s largest city. Held to coincide with the Kentucky Derby Festival, the networking and promotional event provides a platform for the state to showcase its strengths as a seeding ground for new business. Tech startups looking for a home will find the state’s business-friendly features a boon. If they are serious about transforming into unicorns, Kentucky is the place to be.

Run for the Unicorns, hosted by Convergence, is a confab that aims to put Kentucky on the startup map. It’s scheduled to get underway with a pre-conference hackathon & e-sports game jam powered by blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and extended reality (XR) technologies. Throughout its six-day itinerary, attendees will have the opportunity to visit the Shark Tank Casting Call, a VIP investor dinner, a trip on the Bourbon Trail and a poker tournament.

The headline events will be the races. The first is the Kentucky Oaks, a race for three-year-old female horses, also known as the ‘Run for the Fillies’, which takes place on Friday, May 3. The Kentucky Derby – a.k.a. the Run for the Roses – follows the day after, on Saturday, May 4. The Derby is one of the oldest and most prestigious sporting events in the world. Every year, it attracts thousands of visitors and an estimated 1.5 billion people around the world place bets on the race.

Run for the Unicorns is the brainchild of Andrew Prell, whose grandfather hosted Derby parties on his front yard. Prell remembers playing hide-and-go-seek as a seven-year-old among the dozens of cars parked on the lot. The eight-acre field must have painted a festive scene. It also accommodated huge circus-like tents and barbecue pits with fires that had been going for days.

Prell, CEO of Convergence, which is hosting the Run for The Unicorns conference, is convinced that the Kentucky Derby Festival can have an economic impact in Louisville that surpasses the annual South by Southwest (“SxSW”) expo in Austin, Texas. SxSW generates an estimated $315 million in economic activity (i.e. $1,575 per person from about 200,000 people over 10 days). Yet, the Kentucky Derby Festival, which attracts 1.2 million visitors over its two weeks, generates just $128 million, or $106 per person. Kentucky can obviously get more bang for the buck. The SxSW festival is considered to be a factor in making Austin, since 2015, the top destination for startups, ahead of Silicon Valley (

For more information, visit the event’s website at

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