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 wecreatekc.com. 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 . . .
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.
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.
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.
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: 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 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."
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.
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.”
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 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.