UMKC Innovation Center partners with the university and the community to spark and sustain entrepreneurial efforts within our region and across the country.

KCSourceLink connects KC entrepreneurs to the right resource at the right time.

MOSourceLink connects Missouri entrepreneurs to the right resource at the right time.

Whiteboard2Boardroom connects entrepreneurs and businesses to technologies available for licensing.

Digital Sandbox KC provides early-stage proof-of-concept support for digital products.

Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center provides technical assistance to startup and existing businesses.

ScaleUP! Kansas City helps businesses with revenues around $200K scale toward their first $1 million.

Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Centers helps local businesses obtain government contracts.

KCInvestED helps investors learn more about investing in KC startups.

SourceLink® helps communities nationwide build vibrant and vital entrepreneurial ecosystems.
UMKC Innovation Center
UMKC Innovation Center
Paleterias Tropicana

Your Favorite 2015 Entrepreneurs in Action

We’ve been hearing and sharing the stories of KC entrepreneurs since we were a wee little network some twelve and a half years ago. Last year, we made our love story public and official when we launched our Entrepreneurs in Action blog, a spinoff of our annual We Create KC report. With this blog, we get the honor and opportunity to share the diverse stories of KC entrepreneurship—the makers, the shakers, the even the cinnamon roll bakers.

A quick glance at this very short list of entrepreneurial stories will show you that Kansas City loves to support all types of entrepreneurship, from the Main Street businesses that define our city’s character to the microenterprises that help families increase their personal worth. We love our innovation-led companies that need resources to run like gazelles and we support our second stage firms, those who have survived the startup phase and help strengthen our local economy.

Below are your top 10 favorites. Browse the lot at Entrepreneurs in Action, and be sure to contribute your story at We’d love to see you and your business on next year’s list.

(Need help building your success story? Give us a call at 816.235.6500 and we’ll connect you with experts who can help you grow—or browse our website. Click on “Choose Your Entrepreneur Type” to get tips, resources and events, tailored to your type of business, for example Resources for Main Street Businesses.)

And now without further ado, your top 10 entrepreneurial stories—in reverse order of course. You know, suspense . . .


Solars: Hello Happiness Card Company

Hello Happiness Card Company: A Business Born Out of Love

How would you respond if two out of three of your children were diagnosed with a life threatening illness? This local Kansas City family started a business spreading love.


Empire Window Cleaning

Such Great Heights: Jorge Aguilar and Empire Highrise USA

As the owner of Empire Highrise USA, a company that cleans the windows of some seriously tall buildings in Kansas, Missouri, Georgia, Nebraska, South Carolina and Tennessee, Jorge Aguilar knows firsthand: if you’re going to reach great heights, you need a solid anchor.


Jess and Ben of Wood and Salt

Wood + Salt: Brother-Sister Startup Deconstructs KC BBQ

Full disclosure: We love Wood + Salt. Their flavors greet our eggs and avocados in the morning and our roasted meats at night. They make their way into every KC gift basket we send out.


Dolce Bakery: Main Street Champs

The Sweet Road to Success: Dolce Bakery Dominates with Gooey Goodness

Serving the Kansas City area since 2007, Dolce Bakery is the direct and delicious result of owner Erin Brown's passionate commitment to “feeding the people with love.” And like their sweet treats, they haven’t taken any shortcuts when they won our 2015 Battle of the Brands.


MPO Technology

MPO Technology: Cell Phone Solutions, Born of Frustration

Quinten Sepe thinks cell phone bills are, well, lacking. (He has a stronger word for it.) That’s why he created MPO Technology in 2015 to help bridge the gap between outdated billing structures and services (re: big bills) and actual business needs (re: lower bills).  


POUT's Ashley Aleec'e

POUT Magazine: Celebrating KC's Business Women

"The richest place anywhere is the cemetery, where there are millionaire and billionaire ideas that never came to life because people with those ideas died before they acted to make their dreams come true. I don’t want my ideas or anyone else’s to wind up in the cemetery."


Mackech Jewelry

The Modest Beginnings and Marvelous Journey of Mackech Jewelry

The origin stories for some small businesses are unassuming. You see something you like, say, a particular brand of Mexican jewelry, and you share it with your friends. Then the tide rises, a good idea is born on the rushing waves of word of mouth: your friends share it with theirs, you turn a good find into a flourishing resale business and then flash forward four years, and you’re opening up a retail store in Leawood, Kansas and accepting an award as the Women Minority-Owned Businesses of the Year 2015.


Jennifer Wadella, Women in Technology

Who You Should Know: Jennifer Wadella

There are big problems to solve to help level the playing field, but I think the easiest way to make an impact is community involvement. In order to get more women in the industry they need to see more women in the industry.”


Paleterias Tropicana

Sharing a Passion for Paletas: Paleterias Tropicana

José Luis Valdez and Lucia Fonseca launched Paleterias Tropicanain 2004 in midtown Kansas City as a way to bring natural, authentic Mexican-style ice cream and paletas to KC’s growing Latino market.

But they didn’t stop there. They now offeran extensive menu of fresh fruit cocktails and juices, smoothies, freshly made and filled churros and traditional Mexican lunch and dinner items—and they recently launched a private label product, Freshata to help bring more Latin-themed products to the U.S. market. If you haven’t tried them out, you should.

And the no. 1 story of 2015 . . .

SwimZip swam to success via Shark Tank

SwimZip Dives Head First into the Shark Tank

It’s 2003. Topeka High School student, Betsy Wanless signs up for Youth Entrepreneurs, a yearlong elective that will teach her, among many other things, how to valuate a business, write a business plan and pitch it to potential investors.  

Flash forward to 2014. Betsy (now Johnson) has survived skin cancer, started a line of UV 50+ protective swimwear for kids and stands with her brother and co-founder Berry Wanless on the biggest business stage in the world—ABC’s Shark Tank—to pitch her business to four of the most recognized entrepreneurs. 

But wait, there's always more . . .

Read about Your Favorite 2014 Entrepreneurs in Action, check out our other inspiring entrepreneurial stories. or share your story with us. 

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