Venture Awards celebrates city’s entrepreneurs

A Columbus entrepreneur who is preparing to go international with a new product will keynote the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce Venture Awards.

Steve Booher, whose company Smart Path Systems is set to sign a distribution agreement with a top original equipment manufacturer, is guest speaker for the awards at 11:30 a.m. Aug. 16 at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center.

Smart Path Systems has developed a precision-guided solution for commercial mowing, spraying and snow removal, Booher said.

The system, after identifying the area to be covered, calculates the most efficient way for the operator to accomplish the mowing, spraying or snow removal and monitors the performance while at the same time increasing safety, he said.

The idea behind the guidance system is to increase productivity and efficiency while at the same time making the process safe for the operator, he said.

The Venture Awards celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit of the Columbus community, and Booher said he plans to give a little background on his journey as an entrepreneur during his talk.

Growing up middle class in Columbus, Booher said he didn’t have a lot of money to start a company, even though he was in the top 10 percent of his class in high school.

But anybody can do what he and others have done as entrepreneurs, Booher said.

“If you work hard and put your heart in it, you will make it go,” he said.

Booher said he will offer some tips from what he learned along the way about negotiating buy-sell agreements before partnering with another individual and the importance of cash flow.

“If you run out of cash, you run out of business,” he said, and allowed that almost happened to him once.

Booher can’t reveal the manufacturer that Smart Path Systems will be working with until later this year but said 2017 will involve the company going into international sales for the product.

Booher earned an associate’s degree in design at Vincennes University and a bachelor’s degree in business from Indiana Wesleyan. He has launched and sold several ventures in his 25-year career, including Productive Resources, Auburn Clutch, NetPage USA and CAD Design Inc.

He received the prestigious Growth 100 award from the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, part of Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, 11 times for four different companies.

Also during the Venture Awards, finalists for Entrepreneur of the Year, New and Emerging Business and Small Business Advocate of the Year will be honored. Nominees were crowd-sourced and final selections for the winners were made by a panel of chamber members in the fields of banking, commercial real estate, insurance and financial planning.

“Each one of these finalists has built a business that reflects the owner’s personal passion,” said Cindy Frey, chamber president. “While their businesses are very different, their messages about what makes them successful are remarkably similar. Each owner has valued the input of mentors and seasoned experts, has learned from failure and has based some of the biggest decisions on gut instincts.”

If you go

What: Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce Venture Awards

When: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 16

Where: Clarion Hotel and Conference Center, Columbus

How much: $45

Reservations: Call 812-379-4457 or visit columbusareachamber.com.

Venture Award honorees

Finalists for this year’s Venture Awards include:

Entrepreneur of the Year:

  • Burt’s Termite and Pest Control Inc.
  • Natural Choices for Healthful Living
  • Simmons Winery/450 North Brewing Co.

New and Emerging Business

  • Garb2ART Cosmetics
  • Pomp and Bloom
  • YoMaMa Frozen Yogurt

Small Business Advocate of the Year

  • SCORE
Author photo
Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.