Your 10 Favorite Entrepreneurs in Action in 2017
We’ve been hearing and sharing the stories of KC entrepreneurs since we were a wee little network some 15 years ago. Three years ago, 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 and even the cinnamon roll bakers--on their journey from startup to success.
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 sprint like cheetahs, leap like gazelles and dazzle like unicorns, and we support our second-stage firms, those who have survived the startup phase and help strengthen our local economy.
And now without further ado, your top 10 entrepreneurial stories from 2017—in reverse order of course. You know, suspense . . .
“I never thought of myself as a business person. I didn’t think I could learn the things needed to run my own business. And I was very scared.” That kind of vulnerability is not what you’d expect from an entrepreneur’s story. But it is so often the case. It’s what you do next that matters.
Johanna joined the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program, and today she runs a profitable online business. “I never thought I could start a company from the ground up, and I have. Knowing that I can accomplish anything if I set my mind to it, and I really want to do it, has been super empowering for me.”
Chris Goode started Ruby Jean’s Juicery just a few years ago, and it’s already becoming one of Kansas City’s favorite spots and brands. This is due, at least in part, to the support Chris has received from the entrepreneurial community, and his passion.
“I started Ruby Jean’s because of my grandmother’s passing, but what fuels me now is that our products give others life.” Chris’ work comes straight from the heart, “When you start eating better, that gives you the desire to go out and do more. And there is so much left to do to make Kansas City and the world healthier.”
Miles and Taylor strive to make it easier for small business owners to retain customers through an app that automates their rewards and loyalty program.
They’re just as determined as the entrepreneurs they serve. And encourage you to be the same way. “Don’t wait to start a company. Instead, think of the most creative way you can solve a problem, test it and then tweak it. Don’t worry if you have enough money or not, just do it. Take advantage of all the business resources you can and read as much as you can.”
Each of these inspiring women have forged their own paths and built businesses that create positive change in their communities. And each of them have their own distinct definition of success:
Jacqueline: Success is doing what makes you happy, while providing for your family and yourself.
Christina: Success is getting up every day and not only showing up, but being present—for myself, my employees and my customers.
Rebecca: Success is keeping up with your goals—keep your mission and vision clearly written down and follow through.
Brandy’s company played a pivotal role in the development of the KC Streetcar and business continues to grow within Kansas City’s booming development scene. As president of the local chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners, Brandy is a big proponent of strong, healthy neworks, ““You can never go wrong by building relationships and investing in your community. I owe much of my success to the strength of my network and my team.”
Chris is a very successful artist in her own right. She’s also in the business of helping other artists use the entrepreneurial mindset as a facilitator with Artist, INC., “I teach my students that choosing to be an artist entrepreneur is about sustainability. Learning how to approach an artistic endeavor like a business doesn’t make artists sell-outs, it allows them to maintain their arts practice and add their voice for a long time.”
“Scaling a business is hard.” Kelly has no qualms admitting that. “You don’t know what you don’t know.” How did she manage to succeed? She surrounded herself with a network of support and encouragement.
“I feel like after over a decade in business, I’ve only started to tap into Kansas City’s entrepreneurial resource network. The past year we’ve focused on getting traction and growing. The next year is all about strengthening what we’ve built so that we can continue to thrive.”
These women’s strengths are as varied as their industries, and their success bested only by their ambition. From software to improve patients’ experiences at hospitals, to a brand new school, to a tool to help you wash your dog’s paws—these women are making lives easier, better and more enjoyable.
Two years ago, a billion dollars moved through the C2FO working capital marketplace in a single month, a landmark achievement for the business. This quickly scaling business is headed by Sandy Kemper, whose family have played pivotal roles in Kansas City’s business community for generations.
Sandy is adamant that for the community to continue to flourish, we must wholeheartedly believe that a rising tide lifts all boats.
“I hope we can continue to have an environment where everybody’s willing to lend a hand, everybody’s willing to talk shop and to trade ideas that are working, because everyone truly believes that together we can make Kansas City a better place.”
Tommy had a successful career in college and professional sports before teaming up with his wife Kacie to start FEWDM. He has adopted the same never-quit mentality that served him so well on the field as a business owner, ““Football games are won and lost based on the ability of a team to work together. The same is true in the sport of entrepreneurship. Thankfully, I have Kansas City’s startup community on my team.”
The startup community will surely continue to be on his team as FEWDM pivots from selling exercise equipment to apparel. Best of luck in 2018, Tommy, Kacie and the entire FEWDM team. And the same to you, reader.
Is 2018 the year your entrepreneurial journey takes off?
If you need help finding your next step, send is some info here
and we will be in touch ASAP with your personalized action plan, a step-by-step guide to the free and low-cost resources you need to grow your business.