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UMKC Innovation Center
UMKC Innovation Center
sprint accelerator mentor network

Entrepreneurs and Corporate Execs Come Together in The Sprint Accelerator Mentor Network

sprint accelerator mentor network

The Sprint Accelerator just kicked off the 4th cohort of The Mentor Network on June 30th, which is a free, 6 ­month mentorship program, connecting KC early­-stage startup founders directly with corporate executives as mentors.  

Startups and executives are matched according to the startup’s largest area of need and the realm of expertise that the executive(s) offers. The Mentor Network is meant to build relationships and crowdsource knowledge–strengthening the overall startup and innovation ecosystem of KC.

In 2015, there were 10 startups and 10 mentors from 7 area corporations, including Sprint, Pinsight Media+, AMC Theatres, Assurant, Black & Veatch, Cerner and VML. This year, we are thrilled to announce that we have 22 startups onboard for the program, with 38 mentors supported by 19 area corporations. The 19 participating corporations are:

Sprint       Pinsight Media+       AMC Theatres       Assurant       Balance Innovations       BATS Global       Black & Veatch       Burns & McDonnell       Cerner       DST       H&R Block       Husch Blackwell       ItsOn, Inc.       JE Dunn       KPMG       Lexmark       Nokia       SelectQuote       United Dairy Farmers of America

From the startup standpoint, many industries are represented among these early-­stage companies and the cohort is a very diverse group. Additionally, over 40% of the startups are female ­led. The following startups were selected for the 2016 cohort:

2020 Adventures Spencer Carlson
Azalea Sage Nikki Hughey
Clear Sky One, LLC Cecilia Saffold
DREAMS Catina Taylor
HipHire Brian Kearns
Innovate Today Clayton Kohler & Nathan Gregg
Kids Zone Samara Jones
LG Consulting & Training, LLC LaDonna Greiner
Lume Lifestyle Waira Mungai
Meedu Doug Tree
Mesa Samuel Mullen
Nyoogo Christopher Lee
Pennez Rebecca Dove
Pet Perch, LLC Sheri Gillett
Popbookings Erika Klotz & Scott Hanson
Rack Performance Matt Sellers
RG Fiber Mike Bosch
Royal Loyal Babir Sultan
Start Talking Mark Nolte, Jim Braun & Leon Probasco
Stratex Solutions, LLC Raina Knox
Thou Mayest Bo Nelson
ZOHR Mobile Tire Service Komal Choong & Anoop Choong

There is a true cumulative effect that takes place when you have corporate innovators working alongside startups.  Of course, there is a wealth of knowledge, experience and network that the mentors share with the startup founders. However, one of the most consistent and potentially surprising outcomes are the benefits mentors experience through working with startups. Many executives pick up iterative and innovative methods they can use within their own work groups. This entrepreneurial approach permeates the corporate culture as more executives jump in.

Additionally, the individual mentors cite higher job satisfaction when given the opportunity to work and build with startups. An ongoing and compounding side effect is the level of communication that opens between area corporations and startups. Startups gain much needed intros and expertise, while corporate executives become more comfortable working with startups as well as other corporate innovators.

Is your interest piqued? Wanna join the next cohort? Applications will open in January 2017. If you have any questions about The Sprint Accelerator or their programs in the meantime, email Ari Kern, Community & Programs Manager: 

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