10 Most-Popular Kansas City Entrepreneur Stories You Loved in 2019

An idea can do amazing things.

You’ve shown us that it can take you from broke to $38 million, put interactive stories in everyone’s pockets, help you start a business with just a credit card, motivate you to land that first big funding win, inspire you to create a health business after you’ve conquered a life-threatening condition … and so much more.

Ideas fueled the most-read Kansas City entrepreneur stories of 2019.

See, owning a business is no small feat and your stories showed us what happens when the rubber hits the road, the going gets tough and you get to work … because no one said this would be easy—they just said it’d be worth it.

For 16 years, we here at KCSourceLink have elevated and connected entrepreneurs with business-building resources across the metro to give their ideas the right foundation for their businesses. And we always love to hear your stories.

From construction, tech, food, maker communities, health and wellness and more, in 2019 there was plenty of inspiration and life-lessons in these local entrepreneur tales (from people in KC just like you) to keep your heart, mind and soul full, no matter where you are in your business journey.

> > > Ready to take the next (or first) step with your business? We can help (for free).

Entrepreneurs review the GEWKC agenda.

10. The Best Tips for KC Entrepreneurs, Small-Business Owners We Heard at GEWKC

Global Entrepreneurship Week – Kansas City 2019 featured over 200 sessions to help thousands of attendees start or grow their business or nonprofit … and with that much brainpower in one place, you’re bound to hear some great nuggets of wisdom to help you reach that next milestone.

So we collected some of the best stuff we heard from the latest five-day event, and we put it all in one place for you to check out.

KC entrepreneurs Ivan, Jamie and Romero Guizar of Evergreen Flooring

9. Starting with a $1,000 Credit Card: The Hard Road Leads 3 Brothers to KC Business Success

Three brothers Ivan, Romero and Jamie Guizar moved to Kansas City from California and aimed to start their own business — and all they had was an idea, some determination and a credit card.

Their first business, in food, didn’t work out, so they put on their entrepreneur hats and got to work building their flooring company, Evergreen Flooring. Early on, they had plenty of kinks to work out, but see what they learned about finding customers, managing clients and the formula they developed for success.

Joe Vazquez, Vazquez Commercial Contracting | WeCreate KC | KCSourceLink

8. KC Entrepreneur Joe Vazquez Recounts Journey from Losing His Job to $38M+

If you want a feel-good story, you found it. Joe Vazquez graduated from college with a degree in hand and thought accounting was his passion … until a few years later he realized it wasn’t. Then his company let him go. But instead of ruminating on what he could’ve done, he envisioned what he could do.

See how Joe took a $110,000 net loss during his first year as an entrepreneur and grew his juggernaut of a business beyond his wildest dreams, right here in the heart of KC.

KC Resource Partners he worked with: Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Center, U.S. Small Business Administration, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Philip Hickman, Plabook | WeCreate KC | KCSourceLink

7. KC Entrepreneur Philip Hickman Wants Interactive Stories in Everyone’s Pocket

Philip Hickman has quite the resume: Royals ball boy, college linebacker, superintendent with five graduate degrees and a doctorate, winner of a hefty LaunchKC grant and most recently, OHUB.KC.

And since he’s returned to Kansas City, he’s added “entrepreneur” to that list. In the past year, he’s landed win after win with funding for his innovative concept that’s sparked the curiosity of places like NASA. See why his KC story is a page-turner.

KC Resource Partners he worked with: OHUB.KC, LaunchKC, Missouri Small Business Development Center at UMKC, Urban Business Growth Initiative, Digital Sandbox KC, LEANLAB Education

Kansas City serial entrepreneur Gigi Jones works at one of her businesses, Zafar

6. A Battle with Cancer Inspired KC Entrepreneur Gigi Jones’ Businesses

Entrepreneurs can take a scary situation and turn it around to find the right path forward. Gigi Jones did just that with her cancer diagnosis. It taught her a lot and inspired her to help others find their own path to health and recovery.

See how Gigi’s multiple health-centric businesses are helping others.

KC Resource Partners she worked with: 1 Million Cups, Ennovation Center, U.S. Small Business Administration, Community Teaching Kitchen at City Market, Missouri Small Business Development Center at UMKC, Square One Small Business Services by Mid-Continent Public Library


Molly Bingaman of Ladybird Style Lab and Salon

5. Inside the Style Lab: How Molly Bingaman Elevated Her Fashion Business in KC’s Crossroads

Starting a business isn’t easy. That’s why when Molly Bingaman had her brilliant idea for a fashion-based business (seriously … the theory behind it is super cool), she used every resource at her disposal to help her grow it beyond her initial door-to-door microenterprise into a business that operates out of an old two-story bus depot in the Crossroads.

See how she’s evolved her concept and expanded her business (and how you can follow her path and start your own business).

KC Resource Partners she worked with: Urban Business Growth Initiative, Missouri Small Business Development Center at UMKC, 1 Million Cups

Kansas City Tech Entrepreneur Claude Harris of College Coaching Network

4. How KC’s Claude Harris Transformed His College Prep Business into a Tech Startup

Years ago, Claude Harris’ college prep business was stuck in the paper age … and he didn’t realize the key to success was hiding right in front of him: He actually had a tech business.

See how, with the help of an app he developed with help from organizations in KC, he’s making college accessible to more students and helping them reach their higher education goals.

KC Resource Partners he worked with: Missouri Small Business Development Center at UMKC, Digital Sandbox KC, Heartland Black Chamber, Enterprise Center in Johnson County, 1 Million Cups

Nick Ward-Bopp of Maker Village KC | WeCreateKC | KCSourceLink

3. How KC Entrepreneur Nick Ward-Bopp Built a Makerspace for Inventing, Creating

When life gives an entrepreneur lemons, some, like Nick Ward-Bopp, roll up their sleeves and get working on cutting, shaping, welding and fashioning a new hand-crafted career.

See how the recession and a dead-end job spurred Nick Ward-Bopp to create a space for folks to invent, build and create.

KC Resource Partners he worked with: AltCap, Black & Veatch MakerSpace at Johnson County Library, Hammerspace Community Workshop, Kauffman FastTrac, 1 Million Cups

Kansas City Entrepreneur Ann O'Meara of Fantastic55

2. KC Woman’s ‘Encore Career’ Aims to Change Perceptions About Those 55+

Ann O’Meara kept reading so many negative things about people 55 and older. So, like many seniorpreneurs, she got to work, creating her own media company that’s exploring everything, from how to start a new job as a senior to the health benefits of singing.

Find out more about how Ann created her own “encore career” and the age group that makes up a quarter of entrepreneurs nationally and is twice as likely to start a business than a millennial.

KC Resource Partners she worked with: SCORE, 1 Million Cups, Square One Small Business Services by Mid-Continent Public Library, Kansas Small Business Development Center at Johnson County Community College, BetaBlox
Kansas City Entrepreneur Josh Lewis

1. KC’s Josh Lewis Lands First Six-Figure Investment for UpDown NightLife: Here’s What You Can Learn

Closing that elusive first investment deal is a huge moment for any entrepreneur. But how do you do it?

Serial entrepreneur Josh Lewis unveils the valuable lessons he has learned from all those meetings with investors and how he put himself in some of those “big rooms.”

See how Josh is cashing in on his entrepreneurial instincts.

KC Resource Partners he worked with: Missouri Small Business Development Center at UMKC, Digital Sandbox KC, Urban Business Growth Initiative, 1 Million Cups

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