Matt Condon is the founder and CEO of Bardavon Health and ARC Physical Therapy+ and champion of the KC Chamber’s Big 5 entrepreneurship initiative. He spoke at the launch of the We Create Capital report on June 1. You can download the full finance report and action plan at www.wecreatekc.com.
Leadership is about recognizing pivot points, those critical moments in the lifecycle of an enterprise or an effort that to most seem like normal times, but that leaders recognize as opportunities to change the trajectory of an enterprise, forever.
With We Create Capital, Kansas City is faced with one of those pivot points. This is a call to action, and we have an opportunity to shape the legacy that our generation will bestow upon Kansas City.
But leaders lead with actions – not words.
To grow Kansas City and our economy, it will take continued work, it will take debate, it will take collaboration and cooperation, it will take ideas and hard work and suffering and luck and it will take funding. It will take money.
In the New New Thing, Michael Lewis calls the story of Silicon Valley from 1900 to 2010 as the greatest legal creation of wealth in the history of the world. While we see Silicon Valley as this new place, it is important to note that Silicon Valley was developed over several decades, not overnight by coordinating the education system with the entrepreneurial community – and fueling them with funding. That driven, consistent, collaborative approach drove that area to become the greatest legal creation of wealth in the new world.
We all know Kansas City won’t, and does not want to be, Silicon Valley. We are proudly and thankfully different. We will be Kansas City – and other areas will look to us as an example of a community and region that admitted their problems, attacked them, overcame them – and in doing so established the next economy for those that will follow us, including my children.
To address our issues, we must first understand our landscape. Maria Meyers and KCSourcelink have provided us with much of that understanding in We Create Capital. We know this funding landscape, and now we must do something about it. We need action.
We need to take a step today or our tomorrow will look the same.
We cannot allow our region to be overcome by stagnant growth and the allure of capital from the coasts to relocate our entrepreneurs that will drive and grow our companies to be the catalysts of our region’s economy.
Why am I passionate about increasing accessibility and availability of capital for early-stage businesses? Because I’ve lived it.
In 2003, I started and grew a company here, blessed with the support and guidance of so many. I chose Kansas City instead of Chicago, Denver, or the coasts.
Fortunately, I was able to transition from that company with a successful exit and went on to start several other enterprises. Like so many others, I had to find capital to fuel some of those entities. Unable to find the channel to effectively navigate the available sources here in our region, I spent time courting, and being courted by, venture capitalists and private equity from Boston, California, Dallas and other areas.
Like others, I’ve been asked to consider moving out of KC to get funding. Like others, I’ve heard that Kansas City has the money – it just isn’t “organized.” Like others, I’ve, at times, grown frustrated or scared being a KC entrepreneur.
That didn’t need to happen – and it certainly doesn’t need to happen anymore. We do have capital. Our capital IS organizing. We have leadership, and it is coalescing around this issue… with real intent. And we have a momentum like very few other regions in the country:
- The birth of Google Fiber
- The emergence of the KC Chamber in taking a strong position supporting entrepreneurship in the region via the Big 5 (and the recent Leadership Exchange and Annual Dinner)
- KCADC showing strong support to our ecosystem via KC Rising and KCNext
- The creation of Enterprise KC by one of our own iconic Kansas City Entrepreneurs (Cliff Illig)
- The formation of local VCs that have decided to take root here and support the community (OpenAir, Flyover, etc.)
- Powerful corporate involvement, including Kevin McGinnis’ s efforts at Sprint Accelerator
- The evolution of Startup Village
- The formation of Pipeline and the Pipeline Network
- The support/commitment from Wendy Guillies and her team at Kauffman
- The mentorship/leadership/networking/community integration efforts of so many others
- The recognition of Kansas City as a Global Entrepreneurship Congress Top 5 city
- The announcement of UMKC’s Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center
- The leadership of KC SourceLink and all they do for our region
But we need your help.
We need you to be a part of our momentum moving forward. We need you to be a leader who recognizes this pivot point in KC’s Lifecycle.
Maria Meyers and her team at KCSourceLink have shared a clear and compelling action plan to change the experience for startup entrepreneurs… not to make it easy, but to make it possible, for early-stage companies to find the capital they need to grow their companies IN THIS REGION.
And it’s going to take all of us, working together and moving in the same direction, to move this agenda forward. And we can do it.
How can you get involved? Join the movement to make Kansas City America’s most entrepreneurial city. We can’t do it without you, but if we all work together, we surely can do it.
To get involved in changing KC's funding landscape, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "We Create Capital."