Ashley_ST_HeadshotOn Wednesday, June 3, Venture Connectors will host Ashley Drake, co-owner and CEO of The Natural Grip LLC, a recent competitor on ABC-TV‚Äôs ‚ÄúShark Tank.‚Äù Don’t miss out! Click here to register before noon on Tuesday, June 2!

Drake appeared on the show’s Nov. 7, 2014, episode, and received an investment from celebrity shark Robert Herjavec. She will talk about her experiences leading up to her appearance, how she prepared for it, what it was like to face the sharks and how she is growing her business with the help of Herjavec’s investment. Louisville-based The Natural Grip manufactures specialized handgrips for weightlifters, cross trainers and other athletes that are designed to prevent common injuries.

Make sure you click here to view Drake’s “Shark Tank” pitch before the lunch. A Q&A will follow her presentation, so come prepared with your questions!

In addition to her entrepreneurial endeavor, Drake is an active-duty U.S. Army captain. She currently serves as the formerly used defense sites (FUDS) program manager in the environmental support section in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s military project management branch, with responsibility for planning, programming, directing, reviewing and ensuring performance of FUDS environmental engineering mission/projects in the Louisville District.

She began her military career as a platoon leader for a construction engineer company in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and has served in the United States and the Middle East. Her assignment with the Louisville District Corps of Engineers began in 2013. Combined, she has more than nine years of project management, supervisory and professional leadership experience in the military, and has balanced her military duties with running a successful small business for the past two and a half years.

Drake has a bachelor’s degree in speech communications from Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas, and a master’s degree in building construction from Virginia Tech University. She holds the Project Management Professional certification from the Project Management Institute, as well as many military awards and commendations.

Venture Connectors’ luncheon meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month at the Muhammad Ali Center, 144 N. Sixth St. Doors open at 11:30 a.m., and the meeting runs from noon-1:15 p.m. Members attend free; associate members pay $30. Guests who register online by noon the day before the lunch pay only $40.