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Women’s Business Summit: Reaching for the stars

89 Lunch tables Pictured left: Ellie Puckett who gave a presentation on how to avoid being your own barrier at the Women’s Business Summit in Campbellsville, KY

Recently the Kentucky Innovation Network was asked to provide a speaker to the Women’s Small Business Summit hosted by the Women’s Business Center of Kentucky in Campbellsville, KY. The Innovation Network suggested they have Ellie Puckett of Rowan County, KY speak. Below is an interview with Ellie about this event.

IN:   Ellie, how old are you and why did you think that you could give advice to other women at this conference?

Ellie:  I’m 23, but I’ve tried to take the right steps so that I can be in control of my future since I was very young. I thought that my journey might be of interest to others.

IN: Was it of interest?

Ellie: Yes. You see, my story started like many of theirs. I was competitive and always wanted to do more and excel. I moved to Rowan County to go to school on an athletic scholarship. I’ve always been competitive, but I knew my future would involve starting something and not be limited to athletics. I enrolled in the first entrepreneurship degree program offered by Morehead State. While in school, I competed at Idea State U, the statewide business plan competition that the Innovation Network hosts each year and awards $100K in prize money.

IN: OK, so you started a business that was entered in the Idea State U competition?

Ellie: No, but that gave me the foundation I needed. Education, coupled with the teamwork skills I honed in athletics, my aggressiveness, and a little luck, led me to what I am doing now.

IN: How so?

Ellie: First, I headed to California, perhaps like lots of others looking for the gold in the Golden State. But what I learned is that people are people and that I didn’t need to move and give up friends and family to do what I wanted. So, I moved back. I was working at a small business while I was looking for the right opportunity and a bit of luck came my way. By the way, I think that the harder you work, the luckier you get.

IN: What happened?

Ellie:  Someone who remembered me from Idea State U asked if I wanted a job on a new project. While this was not an actual startup, it was working with others who had ideas about startups. I thought I knew about startups, but it’s different when you are actually in one. So, I had to use what I had learned to help others. One of the companies I was working with ended up asking me to join them. It turns out that this company fascinates me.

IN: Tell us about them.

Ellie: Well, this company is developing technology that will be deployed on the International Space Station and will perform research for others in microgravity that is focused on finding medical solutions for us here on earth.

IN: Uh, what? You lost me.

Ellie: I know, I lose everyone here. I have the neatest job ever. I have found some brilliant people right here in Appalachia who have a fantastic idea, lots of people helping them, access to funding, and a huge new untapped market.

IN: How on earth (pun intended) did you get the job?

Ellie: Well, this is what people should pay close attention to and this was the subject of my talk in Campbellsville.

I had been doing a few very specific things that propelled me here and gave confidence to the decision makers around me.

1. taking risks

2. being aggressive

3. not making excuses

4. breaking down the barriers

5. creating opportunities

IN: So, you’re a rock star now?

Ellie: No I haven’t arrived but I am in the position now to be incredibly successful, which is more than I could say last year. The difference wasn’t luck, but rather deciding to not be my own barrier. Try many things and don’t be afraid of things not working out. Most things won’t. But having the courage to explore beyond your frame of reference allows you to look beyond the sky, and land near the stars.  Growing up I thought that phrase was cheesy until I lived it out. Now I find myself running a Space Science accelerator, and transitioning into the VP of Sales, Marketing, and Brand Management at this startup, and selling research labs on the International Space Station. I am literally among the stars.

IN: Wow, I can see why they liked you at the seminar. Thanks Ellie!

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