What Does It Mean To Be A Kansas City Entrepreneur?
Recently published essays on becoming a better Kansas City Entrepreneur:
2016 was one hell of a year for Kansas City entrepreneurs. Some really cool things happened across the board, and this is our way of reflecting on others’ successes. What we as an industry sometimes forget is how much of a schlep getting a company off the ground is....read more
This essay is all based on a single quote by a man named Paul DeJoe, the founder of a tech startup called Ecquire. Here’s the quote: “Very tough to sleep most nights of the week. Weekends don’t mean anything to you anymore. Closing a round of financing is not a...read more
There is no video game in the world that is more universally accepted as having a bigger impact on the industry as a whole than that of Super Mario Bros. Think back to the first time you ran through level 1-1, learning for your first time how to jump on turtles,...read more
In-case you haven’t heard about it yet, last year one of the most amazing speaker series in the history of startups was published on YouTube. It was curated and moderated by Sam Altman, the relatively new President at Y Combinator. The series takes place at Stanford...read more
When consulting with our startups at BetaBlox, we regularly run into Kansas City banking questions. Entrepreneurs will need loans, checking accounts, financial technology integration, and the list goes on. Instead of attempting to explain this stuff ourselves, we went...read more
We love investing in Kansas City startup founders with differentiated skill-sets. Don’t get us wrong, there is a lot of data (both across the world, as well as in the BetaBlox portfolio) that reinforces the worth of a single founder. But those single founder startups...read more
How many times have you heard someone say, “I work 70 hour weeks?” Or something else that alludes to how many all nighters they pull, coffee they have to drink, early mornings they rise, or family gatherings they have to miss? We’d venture to say it’s a lot. The real...read more
Kansas City. The City Of Founders. That has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? The city where people don’t just dream, they do. They turn ideas into tangible realities regardless of what resources they may, or may not, have at their disposal at the time of their “aha”!...read more
Whether you’re an entrepreneur in Kansas City, or simply just a fan of KC sports, this is a moment in history that our great town will never forget. Despite the multitude of great startups, and great athletes – one team stands above the rest: The Royals. Their...read more
An Kansas City entrepreneur’s worth is proportionate to three things: their skill-sets, the worth of their network, and their ability to leverage both of these assets. Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn calls this concept, ‘I to the we’. The ‘we’ is your network...read more
Are you an Kansas City entrepreneur with grit?
Think about that for a moment. Let us say it again, “are you a Kansas City entrepreneur with grit?”
It almost sounds like a cuss word. It’s dirty. It’s intimidating. It’s HARD. It’s the AK47 of the dictionary. The word ‘grit’ ironically has got its own grit.
Your startup is going to succeed once it has mastered the art of solving a particular problem for its customers, in a repeatable, and sustainable way. This mastery is sometimes called expertise, and expertise doesn’t come easy. Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master the average skill. How are you going to get from zero hours, to 10,000 hours, without giving up?
Grit is that chip on your shoulder that disregards what resources you currently have; or more accurately articulated: lack of resources.
Grit is that swagger that gets you meetings, opportunities, and sales.
Grit is that passion that keeps you up at night, gets you out of bed in the morning, and makes you want to scream off the end of the Titanic that the competition has it wrong!
Grit is the energy drink for your soul, heart, and mind.
Grit oozes out of every porous texture of your brand’s story. It’s on your 404 error pages, blogs, proposals, emails, landing pages – everything. It’s found throughout every medium that crosses paths with your customer and is integrated seamlessly with each other in a way that tells a focused story.
Grit is married to persistence, and persistence is what holds your hand down the dark and scary 10,000-hour alley.
Grit comes in all shapes and sizes; your startup will personify grit differently than the next KC founder. Come up with your own definition and story behind it, just don’t forget it.
What follows is a list of Kansas City entrepreneur leaders and businesses that most definitely have grit. They define what it means to be an entrepreneur from Kansas City.
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, 1 Million Cups Is Church
Every week, we gather at 9AM on Wednesdays, in the house that entrepreneurship built, to support our brethren.
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, Snow & Company Is Where We Go When We’re Hot
Their founder is not only a great leader of Kansas City entrepreneurship (Andy Talbert), but they specifically roll out the red carpet to their fellow entrepreneurs. Many of launch parties have happened here.
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, Thou Mayest Is Where We Go When We’re Cold
Thou Mayest realized Kansas City needed better coffee, meeting, and work space. A generic coffee shop or bar just isn’t good enough these days. Thou Mayest is a haven for entrepreneurs when it’s cold; for they serve alcohol, speciality coffees, and speciality alcoholic coffees! This place has a character and personality that is unmatched by its predecessors, and it fits perfectly into the startup scene.
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, Arrowhead Is Where We Go To Be Loud
Arrowhead is the loudest stadium in the world; and like all good entrepreneurs, we have data to prove it. Said data was documented by Reliant Media Systems, a Kansas City event technology company. This picture showcases the founder (with his hands up), standing next to The Guinness Book Of Word Records authenticator (blazer in middle), the exact second that we hit 142.2 decibels. Oh yeah, and who took this historic picture? BetaBlox’s Lead Investor. Don’t be jealous.
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, The Nelson Atkins Art Museum Is Where We Go To Be Quiet
This building has entrepreneurial tendencies coming out of nook and cranny of the entire building. Most all of its art has been funded, or donated, by Kansas City’s most prolific entrepreneurs such as the Blochs and Kempers. Aside from being beautiful, it’s a reminder of how important it is to give back once when you’re at the top. For that, we thank all who continue to help keep it so pristine.
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, First Fridays Is Where We Go To Be Inspired
Walking around the monthly event held in the Crossroads district really makes an entrepreneur stop and think to themselves about how lucky we really are. It’s essentially just an organized amalgamation of entrepreneurs and artists that all ban together to profile each other’s work. It showcases how entrepreneurial Kansas City’s artists are, and how artistic Kansas City’s entrepreneurs are.
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, Maker’s Faire Is Where We Go To Make
Makers unite! This yearly event is packed with people that love to make things, alongside the people that love those things.
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, Dancefestopia Is Where We Go To Dance
Dancefestopia is now one of the biggest music festivals in the Midwest. What’s special about it isn’t the high quality musicians they bring in, or the differentiated camping setup – it’s their entrepreneurial story. It’s traction is taking off in traditional hockey stick like fashion, and it’s leaders are pure bread entrepreneurs with pedigrees. Watch as this story make a dent on more than just Kansas City, but instead a dent on the music industry, period.
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, Hammerspace Is Where We Go To Tinker
Very few people get into BetaBlox with nothing but an idea and a napkin. You have to find a way to show us the future, instead of telling us about it. For a business with a product, Hammerspace might be how you do this. Instead of purchasing all the crazy/big/expensive machines that you need to prototype something, you can just rent one. This place has been referred to as heaven for people that like to build stuff.
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, The Kauffman Foundation Is Where We Go To Research
What is left to say about the Kauffman Foundation? Not much. They are the keynote leaders of the global entrepreneurship scene, and we’re lucky enough to have them in our backyard. BetaBlox believes the thing they get the least credit for is not all their high quality events and leaders, but instead the research they perform and publish. The data they produce continually empowers more people to start and support entrepreneurship across the world. For that, we will eternally be grateful.
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, LiveKC Is Where We Go To Party
Here is their mission: “to make Kansas City a more attractive place for Millennials to live, work and play.” That is a mic dropping statement that they can actually stand behind. Excuse us while we mop up the drool on the floor.
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, KCSourceLink Is Where We Go To Get Pointed In The Right Direction
BetaBlox describes KCSourceLink as the guys at the airport with the orange flashlights that point the airplanes into the terminals safely. In this metaphor, the terminals are the entrepreneurship support organizations such as BetaBlox, and the airplanes are people like you – the entrepreneurs.
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, Pipeline Is Where We Go To Grow
Pipeline is the Midwest’s premier growth-stage entrepreneurship program. It started in Kansas City and has since grown into an organization that empowers entrepreneurs from across the entire Midwestern region.
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, The Startup Village Is Where We Go To Live
Yes, that’s right – we said ‘live’. As in your home. The Startup Village is a grassroots organization of entrepreneurs who have chosen to all purchase/rent homes near each other. It’s located around the corner from Google Fiber of course. So next time you walk outside to get the paper, you might find yourself chatting startup-talk on the curb (ironic because today’s entrepreneurs probably don’t walk anywhere to read the “paper”, but you get the point).
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, Global Entrepreneurship Week Is Where We Go To Network
GEW is the world’s foremost entrepreneurship “event”. But it’s not really an event, it’s a series of events that take place throughout an entire week in November, annually. It’s not just in Kansas City either, it just started here; it takes place in just about every major metro city in the world. Quite impressive. [Make room as The Kauffman Foundation breaks into an end zone dance]
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, Silicon Prairie News Is Where We Go To Read
Silicon Prairie News (SPN) has been the Midwest’s leader in high quality, relevant, and timely news about startup companies for the better part of the last decade. The sheer quantity/quality of content that they push is beyond impressive. Without them, it’s guaranteed that the region as a whole would know dramatically less about each other as entrepreneurs than we do because of them.
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, Commerce Bank Is Where We Go To Bank
Congratulations to Commerce Bank for their 150 year founding anniversary! In 1865 Francis Reid Long arrived in Kansas City with $10K in his pocket and started a bank. Fast forward exactly 1.5 centuries and what we see is the most entrepreneurially friendly bank in Kansas City. We look forward to the next 150 years!
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, The Disruption Institute Is Where We Go To Hack
Introducing the premier school for computer programmers in Kansas City. The combined economic impact that this business is going to have on Kansas City will be beyond measurable. Thank you Disruption Institute for that, let us know what we can ever do to help!
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, The Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program Is Where We Go To Be Mentored
This program has made a name for itself in the region as being the go-to resource for growth-stage business mentoring (minimum of a $1M in revenue and three years in business). Chalk it up to yet another great thing that Mr.Helzberg has impacted KC with. Is everyone starting to get the picture that entrepreneurs from Kansas City are luckier than a lottery winner?
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, The Center For Advanced Professional Studies Is Where We Go To Inspire
The CAPS program has blown the country away with their innovation to the high school model. It takes juniors and seniors from around Blue Valley and puts them in a single building in either the morning or afternoon, instead of in their actual high school. During this time they study in a various “strands” that emphasize a real life professional industry – such as law or engineering. If that wasn’t enough, they’ve also got an accelerator for their high school!
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, KCPT Is Where We Go To Watch
KCPT is more than just radically local and relevant programming; they’re also huge supporters of Kansas City entrepreneurship. They’ve produced or curated several entire series about entrepreneurship in Kansas City, including Flatland KC and Startups: Made In Kansas City.
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, HitchFit Is Where We Go To Workout
Don’t let an entrepreneur fool you by saying they don’t have time to workout. The best entrepreneurs know that making time to workout and eat right is actually going to extend the amount of effective hours you can put into your company throughout the week. And if you’re going to workout, why do it at a Globo-gym when you can support HitchFit: the premier gym in Kansas City for personal training. The two people in the picture are the founders/professional bodybuilders/authors/trainers/and a bunch of other stuff that makes us all jealous.
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, Jess & Jim’s Is Where We Go To Eat
We can confidently call Jess & Jim’s the best steakhouse in Kansas City; and for an appetizer to that statement we can also call it one of the coolest entrepreneurial stories in our city’s restaurant industry. Their story even landed them on the pages of Playboy magazine! Not many KC startups can say that.
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, KC Crew Is Where We Go To Play
Where do you go to play leisure sports in Kansas City? Where do you go to join an intramural volleyball or kickball team in downtown KC? Where do you go to try out any number of obscenely creative events? The answer is KC Crew to all of them. Founded by local serial entrepreneur and war vet, Luke Wade.
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, The Foundry Is Where We Go To Drink
Off the chain appetizers: check. Delicious home brew: check. Amazing patio for meetings: check. Great location to the heart of entrepreneurship in KC: check. But let’s be honest here, it helps that the word ‘found’ is in their name!
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, Up-Down Is Where We Go To Game
Let’s not lie to ourselves – a lot of entrepreneurs like to game. Let’s continue to not lie to ourselves – we’re getting older than we care to give credit to. So where do we go to play video/arcade games whilst keeping true to our 80’s and 90’s roots? Up-Down Arcade Bar. It’s exactly what it sounds like: an arcade for vintage games that also happens to sell KC’s finest adult beverages.
To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, BetaBlox Is Where We Go To Become A Better Entrepreneur
Think for a second about how long this list just took to write, curate, edit, compile, and publish….now ask yourself if we could resist a shameless plug? Applications due soon, apply now! And yes, we had to download our own picture off Crunchbase.
Photo Credit: KCUR, The Kansas City Business Journal, Feast Magazine, Ink Magazine, Downtown Council Of Kansas City, Dancefestopia.com, The Kansas City Star, Theater Communications Group, LiveKC Facebook Page, GEW.CO, GovTech.com, Silicon Prairie News, McCown Gordon, ACS Contracting, Thinking Bigger Magazine, KC Parks, Dress Code Finder, UpDownKC.com