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
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Startup Jargon: Talk Like a Kansas City Entrepreneur

Whether you’re a seasoned business owner or metaphorically dipping your toes in the entrepreneurship waters, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the language of the startup world. Before you pitch your business, speak to investors or seek any sort of institutional funding, you need to know the basics of startup jargon.

We’ve got your back here at KCSourceLink. Here’s a list of common startup terms you should be familiar with as an entrepreneur in Kansas City. 

Have a critical word that we missed that you’re still not sure what it means? Tell us, and we’ll help you right away.

#GEWKC: Your go-to for all chat related to Global Entrepreneurship Week here in Kansas City.  

#ShopLocalKC: An effort to encourage Kansas City to support its own economy and entrepreneurs by shopping local business rather than big box companies during the holiday season. Add your Kansas City business to our Shop Local map.

#StartupKC: Kansas City’s startup ecosystem. Follow the hashtag to connect with KC startup community.

1 Million Cups: Each Wednesday at 9 a.m., two local entrepreneurs take the stage (typically at the Kauffman Foundation) and tell the community about what they do. It’s not a pitch for funds, just an educational session that will help you get to know KC startups and meet liked-minded entrepreneurial folks.  Find a 1 Million Cups near you.

Accelerator: An accelerator is a location-based business development program that typically works with cohorts and has a specified program and/or time horizon for education and mentoring. Some accelerators take a small amount of equity, although that is changing.

Angel Investors: Angels are high-net-worth individuals who provide capital to high growth potential startup and early-stage businesses, usually in exchange for equity or convertible debt. Angels generally invest their own money, often making investments in the range of $5,000 to $100,000. Super Angels are experienced investors with greater means than more typical angels. Super Angels invest their own capital or invest larger amounts cooperatively with other like-minded individuals. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has strict requirement outlining accredited investors. Here’s our list of Kansas City area angel networks along with a list of resource partners who can help you perfect your pitch.

Articles of Organization: A document required by the state or local government agencies when forming a limited liability company (LLC) outlining the basic details about your company. Thinking about starting a business in Kansas or Missouri? We break down what you need to know about registrations, licenses and permits in Kansas and Missouri.

Bankable Companies: These companies have the collateral, track record and/or cash flow to qualify for conventional bank small business financing. “Non-bankable” companies typically need access to alternative loans or bank guarantees. Learn more about Kansas City area loan funds.

Bootstrapping: Starting and growing a business with little or no money. Comes from the phrase “pulling up by your bootstraps” and implies working hard to fund a business without outside funding. Use the KCSourceLink calendar to find a funding class or workshop in Kansas City.

Brick and Mortar: A physical storefront. Also known as a Main Street business. Examples include hair salons, gyms and restaurants. Get inspired by success stories told by Kansas City Main Street entrepreneurs.

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Business Plan: Your business plan is the foundation of your business. It guides you through each stage of starting and managing your business. Your business plan is the tool you’ll use to convince people that working with you — or investing in your company — is a smart choice. Here’s a guide on how to build your business plan and who can help you with your business plan.

Coworking Spaces: Coworking is a style of work that involves a shared working environment. Many coworking spaces offer a variety of options, such as open space and individual offices, access to meeting rooms and shared services. Frequently usage is based on a membership fee or month-to-month rent. Check out our list of coworking spaces right here in Kansas City.

Crowdfunding: The practice of funding a project or business by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the internet. We interviewed Bryan Azorsky and he gave us the scoop on everything we need to know about crowdfunding.

Debt (Loans): The amount of money borrowed by one party from another. Companies in the startup and growth stages frequently acquire debt (borrow money) to fuel their startup or growth costs. Debt must be repaid and does not provide any company ownership for the lender. Here’s a list of Kansas City area loan providers.

Economic Development: Efforts to improve the economic, political and social well-being of a community, ultimately improving the living standards of a region’s citizens. Economic developers often focus on attracting, retaining and creating jobs.

Elevator Pitch: A persuasive sales pitch. This is your sixty second answer to the question “What do you do for a living?” This is the opportunity to leave a lasting, impactful impression of you and your business. Read our article explaining How to Pitch Your Business for Money, Customers or Fun.

Employer identification Number (EIN): A unique nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service to businesses operating in the United States for the purposes of identification. If you’re starting a business in Kansas or Missouri, you’ll need to know which registrations, licenses and permits you’ll need to get started.

Entrepreneur: That’s you (or at least you’re thinking about becoming an entrepreneur). Not every entrepreneur is the same. We’ve categorized entrepreneurship into four quadrants: Innovation-Led, Second Stage, Main Street and Microenterprises. See which type of entrepreneur you are.

Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: An entrepreneurial ecosystem comprises the many and varied components in a community that connect together to create a supportive environment in which people can start and grow successful companies. Those components typically include events, training classes, funding mechanisms, mentoring and coaching, technology transfer groups, incubators and labs. An entrepreneurial ecosystem also includes connectivity among entrepreneurs, resource providers and investors, a culture that supports risk and innovation, a pipeline of talent and programs that celebrate entrepreneurs in the community.

Entrepreneur Support Organization (ESO): An organization that provides training, education, counseling or other assistance to entrepreneurs. These organizations are typically nonprofit, government or educational in nature. Around here, we call them Resource Partners, because they are willing and ready to partner for your success. Looking for business assistance here in Kansas City? We’ve got you covered.

Equity: Stock or any other security representing ownership interest. When a company acquires equity funding, it is trading some ownership of the company for the capital. Meet the KCSourceLink Money Line, a map of Kansas City’s full funding continuum, from debt to venture capital, from inception through exit.

Exit Strategy: A contingency plan for transitioning the ownership of a company to another company, investors or employee buyout. Bankruptcy is a type of exit strategy. We’ve mapped the entrepreneurial resources in Kansas City that are ready to take you from inception to exit.

Fictitious Name: When starting a business, you can title the company by using a fictitious business name. Commonly known as a DBA or “doing business as.” Business owners use a fictitious name so they don’t have to use their name. Here’s a breakdown of different types of business names and the protections they provide.

GEW KC: Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) is an international celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups and bring ideas to life. Founded by the Kauffman Foundation in 2008, it has since expanded to more than 160 countries. In KC, we call it GEWKC and it attracts tens of thousands of folks to hundreds of events every third week in November. See this year’s full schedule of events happening November 13-17.

Gig Economy: A labor market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs. Examples include delivery drivers, photographers or musicians.

Global Entrepreneurship Week: An international celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups and bring ideas to life. Founded by the Kauffman Foundation in 2008, it has since expanded to more than 160 countries. Also known as GEW. See this year’s full schedule of events happening November 13-17.

Grant: Money given to a company that does not have to be repaid and does not require equity in the company to be given in exchange for the funding. Grants are found on the federal, state and local levels. This is one way of funding your business and, unfortunately, most grants are for nonprofit organizations, not small businesses. Learn how to determine the best source of funding for your startup or growing business.

Inclusive Entrepreneurship: Making entrepreneurship open and easily accessible to all people regardless of race, location or gender. Leveling the playing field creates stronger communities, new opportunities for innovation and job growth.

Incubator: An incubator is a business development program that usually involves work space, mentoring and business development resources. As opposed to an accelerator, there is usually no timeframe involved in working in an incubator and firms come in and out rather than function as a cohort. We’ve put together a list of all of the Kansas City incubators.

Innovation-Led Entrepreneur: Also called tech or high-growth, these companies form around a new technology or breakthrough process that has the potential for a very large market. These businesses go through the same stages as other startups, but often at a faster pace. And they sometimes need assistance with proof-of-concept, pitching for equity investments and building leadership teams. Here’s the high-growth startup resources you’ll need to keep growing at hyper speeds.

IPO: Also known as Initial Public Offering. The sale or distribution of a stock of a portfolio company to the public for the first time. IPOs are often an opportunity for the existing investors (often venture capitalists) to receive significant returns on their original investment.

The Kansas City Startup Village: An entrepreneur-led community incubator that made national headlines by being one of the first neighborhoods to receive Google Fiber. Even Brad Feld got in on the action.

KCSourceLink: Hey, that’s us! We provide entrepreneurs of all walks of life with free, easy access to the right resources at the right time. There is no cost for either the entrepreneurs or the nonprofit organizations that make up our resource network. This ensures you objective, unbiased information about the organizations that can best meet your needs. We serve the entire 18-county Kansas City region. Get your free Personalized Action Plan outlining the things you need to do and the people you need to meet to move your Kansas city business forward.

Loans (Debt): The amount of money borrowed by one party from another. Companies in the startup and growth stages frequently acquire debt (borrow money) to fuel their startup or growth costs. Debt must be repaid and does not provide any company ownership for the lender. Here’s a list of local loan providers right here in Kansas City to fund your business.

Main Street Entrepreneur: Often focused on the owner’s passion, these “Main Street” businesses (retailers, restaurants, dry cleaners) have a physical storefront, have employees and need operations support. Main Street businesses are often concerned with increasing sales. Other challenges are cash flow, funding and operations.

Makerspace: Makerspaces are places in which people with shared interests, especially in computing or technology, can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment and knowledge. Kansas City is home to a number of makerspaces that will connect you to the physical and human resources to help bring your idea to fruition and market.

Microenterprises: The technical term is microenterprise, but these firms dream big. Companies in this category require little capital to launch. Most are focused around the owner's personal expertise— consulting, design, lawn care — and they don’t require a physical location. Online businesses also fall into this group.  

Microloan: A very small, short-term loan at low interest, usually to a startup company or self-employed person. Here’s a list of trusted Kansas City area loan providers.

Pitch Deck: A pitch deck is a fancy way of saying PowerPoint presentation. This is a brief overview of your business plan that you share with potential investors, partners, co-founders and customers. Read how Chris Smith of the Athlete Network learned to perfect his pitch and scored millions of dollars in investments.

Pivot: A major shift in strategy or business plan, often driven by customer feedback.  

Product Development: The creation of products with new or different characteristics that offer new or additional benefits to the customer. May involve modification of an existing product or its presentation, or formulation of an entirely new product that satisfies a newly defined customer want or market niche. Do you have a marketable product? See which Kansas City resources can help you with developing your product or prototype.

Proof of Concept: Documented evidence that a potential product or service can be successful. Digital Sandbox KC helps companies validate concepts leading to new business starts and follow-on funding.

Registration, Licenses and Permits: Whether you are starting a business in Kansas or Missouri, you’ll need to pay taxes, hire employees and register for licenses and permits in the state in which you’re doing business. Click here for more information on registrations, licenses and permits for Kansas and Missouri.

ROI: Return on Investment. This is the amount or benefit of an investment divided by the cost of the investment. ROI is usually a percentage or ratio. Find a free (or nearly free) investment education class on the KCSourceLink calendar.

Rollout: The introduction of a new product or service to the market. Refers to a significant product release, often accompanied by a strong marketing campaign to generate a large amount of consumer hype. Meet the KCSourceLink Money Line, a map of Kansas City’s full funding continuum, from debt to venture capital, from inception through exit.

SCORE: Offers free, confidential business education and mentoring. More than 13,000  volunteer business mentors in chapters across the country; supported by the Small Business Administration. Contact your local Kansas City SCORE Chapter.

Second-Stage Entrepreneurship: Businesses that have grown past the startup stage but have not yet grown to maturity. They have enough employees to exceed the comfortable control span of one owner and benefit from adding professional managers. A business typically enters second stage when it approaches $1 million in total receipts, and can be in any industry.

Seed Capital: Helps take a company from proof of concept to market, build a user base and begin scaling. Investment ranges from $250,000 to $1 million. This is the earliest round of funding for a business. Read the full list of funding stage definitions from pre-seed to mezzanine.

Service Provider: Any government agency, nonprofit or higher educational program with a specific service or broad-based program to help start or grow small businesses. Also called Resource Partners, Entrepreneurial Support Organizations (ESOs). We’ve compiled an entire database of service providers who offer free or nearly-free assistance to business owners in Kansas City.

Small Business Administration (SBA): A U.S. government agency that provides loan guarantees to make financing available to small businesses. Also supports mentoring, counseling and training. Contact the Kansas City SBA district office for more information on the programs and services available to grow your business.

Small Business Development Center/Small Business and Technology Development Center: Offer free business consulting and low-cost training services. Located throughout the United States; sponsored in part by the Small Business Administration.

SWOT Analysis: A structured planning method that outlines the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of an organization. Performing this analysis shows where the organization is today and where it may be positioned in the future.

Valuation: In order to obtain additional funding to grow and expand your business, you need to know what your business is worth. This is different from the price of your business. Rick Vaughn of Mid-America Angels explains how to determine the valuation of your business.

Venture Capital: Comprise “general partners” who invest funds provided by other “limited partner” investors. Examples of limited partners include pension funds, insurance companies, foundations and ultra high-net-worth individuals. Venture capitalists generally make larger investments than angels, usually from $1 million to $10 million. We’ve put together a handy guide explaining everything you need to know about venture capital.

Women’s Business Centers (WBC): A national network of nearly 100 educational centers that assist women in starting and growing small businesses. Sponsored in part by the Small Business Administration. We have a Women’s Business Center right here in the Kansas City area.

Still have questions about entrepreneurship and the startup scene?

As the go-to for KC entrepreneurship, we can plug you into the right course, mentor, organization or group for your small business, startup, side hustle or idea in the making.

Just give us a call at 816-235-6500 or fill out your request over here at We’ll develop a personalized action plan to help connect with resources and opportunities, so you can hit that next milestone.

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