Blue North executive Brit Fitzpatrick talks community support and female leadership in supply chain management during FreightWaves Venture Summit
Tucked in the foothills of northern Kentucky, just outside Cincinnati, Brit Fitzpatrick is helping lead a successful supply chain development support company with Blue North.
Blue North supports startups in their home ecosystem, fostering growth through building relationships before capital.
Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of Blue North, wants to develop northern Kentucky into a top-tier supply chain ecosystem; that’s feasible thanks to the proximity of the bustling hub of logistics and transport in nearby Cincinnati.
Blue North puts specific emphasis on supporting seed stage companies, both within its region and internationally, Fitzpatrick told FreightWaves founder and CEO Craig Fuller during a chat at the FreightWaves FreightTech Venture Summit on Wednesday.
The focus is on nurturing personal relationships in their backyard because “network capital and connections are the things you need to build other things [like venture capital],” Fitzpatrick says.
Her rise to this position hasn’t been easy; she began her career in Memphis, Tennessee, before making a move to San Francisco, then eventually back to the center of the country.
Brit says this willingness to move out of one’s comfort zone is essential to success.
“Build your network within your current community, but don’t be afraid to step outside of it, especially for new opportunities,” she said.
Asked about challenges she faces as the leader of Blue North, Fitzpatrick focused specifically on her beginnings as a Black female entrepreneur in the South.
Brit says’ “being a founder is hard, period. It’s hard to take something and put it into the world and build it … but it is very hard to break out of unconscious bias and pattern matching.”
She says it doesn’t matter if she was the first or the only, just the fact that she was breaking the pattern was enough.
Blue North has some lofty goals for the future; the immediate goal is to start a $50 million fund to support supply chain growth space within her community while also attracting other companies to the region.
Fitzpatrick believes the boom in e-commerce and the growth of supply chains supporting food and sustainability will drive success for minority founders and entrepreneurs. The biggest focus: investing in companies but also bridging the gap between the community’s disenfranchised residents.
“The challenge is to make sure you’re doing this work with the community instead of for the community,” Fitzpatrick says.
A supply chain support must be willing to listen to a community’s needs and help build a solution from there, she adds.