My first attempt at entrepreneurship quickly ran afowl of reality.
(Now before you assume the new guy at Startland doesn’t know how to spell “afoul,” please bear with me. I’ve earned my on-the-job Dad Joke credentials through hundreds of clever — some would say eye-rolling — puns that formed the character of my best headline writing and storytelling.)
At 16, I found myself with a flock of more than 70 chickens on my family’s rural Kansas farm. That number soon swelled to 150 (also including ducks, geese and turkeys), as my teenage brain imagined the thrill of running my own operation.
Of course, without first figuring out a business model that could put egg-selling revenue higher than the expenses of raising the birds — let alone never determining how to scale the plan — it was a venture that failed to take flight. (See what I did there?)
Nearly two decades later, I’d learned my lesson. Having long before switched my focus from farming to journalism, I worked my way up from paginator — one of the most invisible jobs in a newspaper’s newsroom — to editor and publisher. But in a challenging print industry, it didn’t take long to realize you can bring in millions in revenue, and still struggle to make payroll.
Thinking like entrepreneurs — not just the stewards of a too-big-to-fail business — became the key to finding and growing success amid an ever-changing media landscape.
During my time running The Ottawa Herald’s award-winning newsroom (consistently ranked one of the best in Kansas), I had the privilege to work with a young reporter named Bobby Burch. Together, we helped cover our share of trauma, drama and intrigue in the community newspaper. When Bobby eventually flew the coop, I had no way of knowing he was embarking on a path that ultimately would lead to the founding of Startland News.
Drawn to Startland largely by its mission-based journalism — and, let’s face it, the sweet coworking space at Village Square — I soon recognized I only knew part of the story. Leaders at Startland and the Kansas City Startup Foundation live out a bold commitment to community building through connectivity every day. They thrive in an environment of challenging minds through self-motivation and self-improvement. No ego. No pecking order.
This isn’t a hobby farm. They mean business.
And it’s in this invigorating ecosystem — bridging innovation and talent — that I hope to help grow Startland’s audience with approachable, meaningful, thoughtful content that fits the spirit of Kansas City’s startup community.
Tommy is managing editor for Startland News. Connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org