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Emerging Business

In 2011, the Big 5 goal of making Kansas City America’s Most Entrepreneurial City was announced. At the KC Chamber, we’re working to bring the right people to the table, to have the right discussions, to help move the needle in our community.

The KC Chamber’s Small, Diverse, and Emerging Business Council has an Emerging Business Subcommittee that is guiding us to develop programming and connections that will link entrepreneurs to the resources that they need from business and civic leaders.

Emerging businesses, by our definition, is an early-stage startup with high growth potential.

access for entrepreneurs

In the Access for Entrepreneurs program, senior executives tap into the energy and ideas of Kansas City’s most dynamic entrepreneurs, while participants receive advice, assistance, and connections to help build their businesses.
Details and of the program include:
  • A community of startups with high potential for success and a desire for more engagement and involvement in civic and entrepreneurial leadership
  • Active participation in bimonthly luncheon meetings with local CEOs and Kansas City’s Civic Leadership Community
  • Invitations to events with exposure to community leaders and issues
Program participants are required to attend a minimum of one luncheon per month with a civic leader. These meetings run March through December 2014.
Last year’s class of bright minds thoroughly enjoyed the program, and are making great progress in their businesses. Several of their companies have gotten funding for their enterprises, added employees, and have shown significant progress. Here are the entrepreneurs selected for the 2014 class:
  • Rion Martin, AudagyFM
  • Bryan Azorsky, Bagettes
  • Ben Kittrell, Doodle Kit
  • Matthew Barksdale, Engage Mobile Solutions
  • Hunter Browning, Fannect
  • Brittain Kovac, HostelKC
  • Jason Anderson, Insights Meta
  • Jennifer Flood, Integrishield
  • Kyle Rogers, Knoda
  • Aaron Sloup, Lantern Software, Inc.
  • Tom Rooker, NSPIRE Entertainment
  • Christian Pantaenius, Onspring Technologies
  • Nathan Benjamin, PlanetReuse
  • Jason Grill, Socks 101
  • Ilya Tabakh, Somametric Inc.
  • Asim Pasha, Sporting Innovations
  • Catalina Campos, Surmount Studios
  • Bo Nelson, Thou Mayest Coffee Roasters
One of the things we found out early on in our Big 5 Entrepreneurship initiative was that entrepreneurs felt disconnected both from each other and from available resources. Access for Entrepreneurs is one of the ways the KC Chamber is trying to bridge a connection between members of the startup community and seasoned business and civic leaders.
Watch this page for updates – applications will be available for the 2015 Access for Entrepreneurs class in January 2015. For more information about the program, email

2013 Access Luncheons included:
Bob Bernstein, Chairman and CEO, Bernstein-Rein
John Bluford, President/CEO, Truman Medical Centers
Bill Cobb, CEO, H&R Block
Peter deSilva, President and Chief Operating Officer, UMB Financial Corporation
David Gentile, President and CEO, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City
Greg Graves, Chairman, President and CEO, Burns & McDonnell
Cliff Illig, Co-Founder, Cerner
KCMO Mayor Sly James
Mark Jorgenson, President & CEO - Kansas City Market, US Bank
Alexander C. Kemper, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Pollenware
David Lockton, Chairman, Lockton Companies
Thomas A. (Tom) McDonnell, President and CEO, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
John Murphy, Chair, Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P.
Danny O’Neill, Bean Baron, The Roasterie, Inc.
Jeff Provost, Office Managing Partner, Deloitte LLP
Joe Ratterman, President and CEO, BATS Global Markets
John Sherman, Chairman and CEO, Inergy
Anne St. Peter, Founder, Global Prairie
Carolyn Watley, President, CBIZ Benefits & Insurance Services, Kansas City

2013 News and Media:


Knoda receives $50K investment from Mizzou student angel group.

1-30-14 keeps accelerating, this time at Tumml in San Francisco

k12itc and RareWire were chosen as part of the Thinking Bigger Business Media Top 25 under 25.

Burns & McDonnell CEO: If you want the Seattle fish market, you have to share ownership

Don't be afraid of employee ownership.

That's the message Burns & McDonnell CEO Greg Graves sent roughly a dozen startup owners during a group lunch earlier this month. Read more.

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has a data visualization map that shows the evolution of entrepreneurship in Kansas City based on research from Professor Heike Mayer of the University of Bern in Switzerland.
The map depicts Kansas City's entrepreneurial development over the past fifty-plus years. 

Grow KC Business - May, 2013 Entrepreneurs

In its quest to reinvent the mobile search experience, Kansas City, Mo., startup Leap2 today announced it closed a $1.6 million round of funding and launched the latest version of its iOS and Android apps.

Since its start more than two years ago, Leap2's interface and functionality has evolved as the team tries "to reimagine what search is," director of product Tyler VanWinkle recently told Silicon Prairie News. In the new version, a user's search pulls together web content, images and real-time social and local results, which can then be filtered. Read more.

Access for Entrepreneur participant founder of Integrated Roadways, Tim Sylvester was featured in the Kansas City Star last month. Given that Kansas City is among the nation’s leaders in highway miles per capita, Sylvester’s startup could be positioned in the perfect place at the right time. He figures on tapping the area’s ultra-speed Google Fiber network to speed the data transmitted through pavement. “If we can increase safety...everyone deserves to have access,” he said. “Most of this technology has already been developed” and he foresees the software systems enabling cars to decipher roadway commands to be “something you could get at Best Buy for a couple hundred dollars.” Read more.

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