Forge-ing a Future

| March 2, 2011

Adam Fish.

There is nothing simple about Adam Fish.

The 24-year-old MBA student at the University of Louisville speaks with the knowledge of someone twice his age and has just as many experiences under his belt, most of which are as varied as his interests. Talk with him for a few moments and you’ll quickly see Fish thinks in a multilayered fashion as he contemplates the issue at hand.

But Fish, who has recently stepped into the lead role of Forge, a community of entrepreneurs and innovators, prefers simplicity when it comes to sparking change. “Too often than not, simple conversations with new people can bring about some amazing things,” he believes. “I think the power of networking and reaching out to others is just huge. I feel like I’ve been pretty lucky in life, but as my father would tell me, luck only happens if you’re prepared.”

That’s advice Fish heeds and hopes to help others do the same as he facilitates simple conversations among like-minded individuals and stands prepared for the potential – and limitless – possibilities.

“I see myself as a life-long entrepreneur, which to me is nothing more than a problem solver. “¦,  I have seen firsthand the limitations to collaboration within and around the entrepreneurial community. Forge is an attempt to solve that,” Fish said.

adamfish02Originally started in 2007 by Louisville resident Matt Winn and handful of others, Forge is both an online and offline initiative to connect the “disparate silos of entrepreneurs” working – separately – in and around the region. “It seemed so counterintuitive,” Fish said. “I like to call (Forge) a community for innovators. Anyone that really wants to change the way current systems are working should want to collaborate and interact with others. I want Forge to act as a catalyst, whether it’s starting a new company, developing a new medical device or even on the social side. I think it’s become pretty clear with social networking that the power of collaborating has much greater strength than one person doing it on their own.”

Anyone is welcome to join the group, which held its first offline meeting with more than 150 attendees in late February at Avalon Restaurant. Mayor Greg Fischer, a proponent of entrepreneurship and collaborative change, was the keynote speaker. Louisville’s size isn’t a weakness, said Fischer. Instead, that allows us to be “more nimble,” he said. “We’ve got to stop comparing ourselves to ourselves and start looking at other cities and realize where our strengths are.”

Fish admits he once believed Louisville and Kentucky couldn’t possibly have the strengths he’s now seen in action. When he left California after earning a bachelor’s in biology from the University of Southern California and moved to the Bluegrass to pursue a graduate degree in medicine (before opting to earn his MBA instead), “I thought I’m just coming here for my degrees. I need to be in a hotbed. Kentucky must not have that much going on. Not to be ignorant, but I had no idea.”

He does now.

adamfish01“Is Louisville ever going to be Silicon Valley? No, that’s ridiculous,” Fish said. “But what I do see here is there are untapped human resources.”

The time to convene such resources is now, said David Jones Jr., chairman and managing director of Chrysalis Ventures. “The idea of Forge is to create sort of a physical and online network and kind of gathering ability for people who are interested in the range of change and innovation happening right now. “¦ Everybody is struggling to some degree with the rate of change and by how we communicate and share information, but a lot of people are having the time of their lives working through the transition,” Jones said. “I think it’s a great time to (reignite Forge) just because so much is happening.”

Jones initially met Fish when he worked as an intern for Chrysalis. “He did a great job working with the young companies. He brought special knowledge and background to the healthcare side of the work that we do, and then it turns out that he has this whole movie and video-production experience. “¦ He’s s guy with wide-ranging abilities.”

Fish is a proactive individual who isn’t afraid to take risks, said Suzanne Bergmeister, entrepreneur-in-residence at the University of Louisville’s College of Business and one of Fish’s MBA professors. “He’s professional, energetic, smart, innovative. I told Adam the other day, “˜I wish there were ten more like you around here.’”

ForgeLogoIn five years…

I hope that I can build up Forge into a profitable business and vibrant community, which will also create another opportunity for me to solve a new problem. I went to medical school because of my desire to improve healthcare, and that still remains even after I left that educational path, so I hope to set my sights there next. Mixed with that will always be my desire to create films. I have a goal to produce a commercially financed film, and I have already had many opportunities to blend this goal with my business pursuits. So in five years, I hope to be doing what I am now, which is both of those pursuits – business and film – but in even bigger realms or new industries.

Out “˜n’ About

I typically find myself downtown or on Bardstown Road. A typical evening would be going to a restaurant, having dinner and either staying there and having some drinks or moving on to another place.

Good eats

I love Proof. I’m a big fan of buffalo meat. I loved it before coming here. “¦ One of my side passions is eating healthy and promoting a healthy lifestyle instead of relying on healthcare. The overall food scene and amount of agriculture in the area, that’s been really an added bonus of living here. I also like 732 Social. I’m kind of a foodie in general.

Doing Derby

I’ve never had a chance to go. This May will be my inaugural Kentucky Derby.

Book smarts

I’m an avid reader. I’m kind of a political junkie. My favorites: The Economist, New York Magazine, Esquire and then online (websites) quite a bit. I’m a big fan of the Drudge Report, Huffington Post, TechCrunch. I love tech blogs and Edible Louisville. My parents used to get Sophisticated Living. I love that because it always has the cools cars. And my mom loves The Voice-Tribune.

Flick picks

The last movie I saw was “Blue Valentine.” I really liked it. It’s not a movie that’s going to make you smile after it. “¦ It was uncomfortable, but it was uncomfortable because it was good. My favorite film is “Casablanca.” I am quite excited (the University of Louisville MBA program is) going this to Athens, Greece, this May and then Casablanca, (a city in western Morocco).

Mentor maven

I relate to Matt Winn quite a bit because of his similar experience. He loves Louisville and the local community, but he’s also seen the outside.

Top shape

I row down at the Louisville Rowing Club. I’m a member of Highlands Fitness and an avid outdoor enthusiast.

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About the Author (Author Profile)

Angie Fenton
Angie Fenton is Managing Editor of The Voice-Tribune, a Blue Equity company. She is also an entertainment correspondent for WHAS11′s new morning show, “Great Day Live!”, which debuted August 22 on Louisville’s ABC affiliate. Additionally, Angie is an entertainment correspondent for the Saturday Morning Show with Ron ‘n’ Mel Fisher on 84WHAS (840 AM) and has served in the same capacity for Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks; Breeders’ Cup; and Circuit of the Americas during the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix in November 2012. Angie also serves as an emcee, host, voiceover professional and on-camera commercial talent.

Angie has a bachelor’s and master’s in English from Central Michigan University and began her career as an adjunct professor at her alma mater. She is the youngest of five — four of whom were adopted, including Angie, and none of whom are biologically related. She is also a Michigan native who moved to Kentucky in June 2002. Angie is owned by two dogs — Herbie and Yoda — and feels lucky to have loved and been loved by many more, including Pooch, Jessie, Onyx, Jack and Big Bud, who took his last breath on Christmas Day 2012.

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