A new community resource space for Kansas City entrepreneurs at all stages launched Friday with the aim to build a bridge for early-stage ventures. Previously a Country Club Bank location, the facility hopes to cultivate more local entrepreneurial ventures.
Located at 4328 Madison St., the Bloch Venture Hub is powered by University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Henry W. Bloch School of Management, Country Club Bank, the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
“The Bloch Venture Hub will provide a welcoming place for aspiring entrepreneurs in the Kansas City Community to develop their venture ideas,” said Jeff Hornsby, director of the Regnier Institute and chair of the Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Bloch School. “As Kansas City’s university, we have always been dedicated to supporting venture creation in our community, but now we have a central location for people to easily access our knowledge and resources.”
Serving as managing director of the space, Hornsby said he expects about half of those using the space to be UMKC students, but that the facility is open to the public as well. The incubator will allow firms to avoid the risk of traditional long-term leases, while granting access to programing and industry expert mentors. Hornsby said the space will be affordable and an added amenity for Kansas City’s entrepreneurial community.
“We believe [the Bloch Venture Hub] is just another portal of our activities out into the Kansas City community,” Hornsby said. “We’re blessed to be funded by some great people and we want to share that with the rest of the community.”
Country Club Bank approached the Bloch School with a partnership offer and granted the school use of its old building as the bank moves its corporate headquarters. The three-story building will allow entrepreneurs to not just metaphorically climb the ladder as they grow — firms will literally travel up the levels of the Bloch Venture Hub building.
Located in the basement, the EntreLab is focused on idea-stage firms and will provide mentoring, advice and access to resources. Serving as a physical meeting space for students and community members, it will also host educational programs facilitated by the Bloch School and KCSourceLink. Open from 9 – 5 p.m., this floor was primarily funded by the Kauffman Foundation and has space for about 15 to 30 people at a time.
“I’m especially excited about the new EntreLab,” Hornsby said. “The EntreLab is just a safe place for people to come in and inquire about an idea without any other expectations other than to get help.”
Once a startup has passed the idea stage, entrepreneurs can level up to the main floor — the startup incubator. For ventures that are ready to launch, the startup incubator can house seven to ten startups and will provide coworking space, promote idea sharing and encourage collisions.
For ventures gaining traction and need of more space to grow, there’s level two — the scaleup incubator.
“The second floor is space for folks that have positive revenue and are trying to move up to scale,” Hornsby said. “It provides another place for people in the community to go and learn about entrepreneurship and what we do at the Bloch School.”
The public is invited to visit the Bloch Venture Hub on Friday March 24 from 1 to 4 p.m., for its open house celebration.