Eight Kansas City startup founders have the opportunity to build a lifetime of high-level entrepreneurial support as 2019 Pipeline fellows, said Joni Cobb.
The Pipeline network of top-tier Midwest founders announced 13 new fellows last week at the organization’s annual Innovators event, staged this year in Omaha, said Cobb, president and CEO of Pipeline. More than half of the fellows hail from Kansas City, though five cities overall are represented.
Earning spots in the year-long 2019 fellowship:
- Kansas City — Bek Abdullayev, Super Dispatch; Anis Dayya, PiREARcings; Jeff Dunn, Redivus Health; Liderman Duin, Bluepoint2; Michael Fry, Astra Brands; Donald Hawkins, CitySmart; Heather Spalding, Cambrian; and Tammie Wahaus, ELIAS Animal Health
- Wichita — Ramsey Jamoul, Midwest eSports; and Steven Werner, Lawn Buddy
- St. Louis — Spencer Toder, Atrial Innovations
- Omaha — William Payne, Simple Vet Solutions
- Lincoln — Lizz Whitacre, Pawlytics
Check out the Pipeline fellows’ bios below.
Among KC’s delegation are two founders from Startland’s Startups to Watch in 2018 list, Abdullayev and Spalding; two finalists for the 2019 list, Dunn and Duin; and a community builder recently featured in Startland’s KCultivator series, Hawkins.
“Pipeline is available for life for each entrepreneur who successfully completes the fellowship year,” said Cobb. “The ongoing support has helped many entrepreneurs navigate growth challenges years down the road.”
The event last week in Omaha featured a “remixed” Pipeline program that included more intimate and interactive daytime activities, such as TEDx-styled presentations, along with an evening main event billed as more informal than previous years’ gala-styled Innovators programs.
The new format took Pipeline’s annual event to a new level, said 2017 Pipeline fellow Austin Barone, CEO of Just Play Sports Solutions and a 2018 LaunchKC winner. Barone spent significant time in front of the Innovators crowd as one of the event’s guest DJs, alongside familiar Pipeline personality Blake Lawrence, CEO of Lincoln-based opendorse.
“Blake is someone that I definitely look up to, so to be able to share the stage and some laughs with him was really fun,” Barone said. “The new format ‘night show’ was hilarious and really more engaging. Entrepreneurship is all about storytelling, right? Give the people a chance to speak!”
In addition to announcing a new crop of fellows, the Innovators event saw the 2018 class complete the year-long Pipeline program. Advancing to the status of Pipeline Entrepreneurs were Kansas City’s Glen Dakan, founder and CEO of online automotive retailer Prestio; Matt Sellers, co-founder and CEO of the fitness software firm Rack Performance; and former LaunchKC winners Ben Schultz, founder and CEO of the construction scheduling SaaS platform LaborChart; and Linda Van Horn, president and CEO of the medical records platform iShare Medical.
Pipeline also honored entrepreneurs in its network with the following awards:
- Inaugural Entrepreneurial Legacy Award — Jim Linder, Nebraska Medicine, Omaha
- Pipeline Entrepreneur (Member) Growth — Paul Jarrett, Bulu, Lincoln
- Pipeline Entrepreneur (Member) Inspiration — Brian Handrigan, Advocado, St. Louis; and Aaron McKee, Purple Wave Auction, Manhattan
- Innovator of the Year — Andrew Barnell, Geneoscopy, St. Louis
Click here to see a photo gallery from the awards portion of the Innovators.
Keep reading for profiles of the 2019 fellows, courtesy of Pipeline.
Bek Abdullayev is the CEO and Founder of Super Dispatch, a fast-growing logistics startup based in Kansas City. Super Dispatch is a Techstars graduate and one of their fastest growing tech startups. The company is digitizing the $700 billion trucking industry by giving carriers and shippers powerful technology that enables the industry to save $16.4 billion each year by eliminating paperwork, providing visibility into their daily operations, and helping them get paid fast. Founded in 2013, Super Dispatch is now the leading software platform for vehicle shipping in the U.S. and Canada.
Bek was born and raised in Uzbekistan (formerly Soviet Union) where he was a two-time national debate champion, as well as an entrepreneur at the age of 9. In 2001, he moved to the United States to attend Park University for business administration and Lehigh University for leadership studies. He lives in Kansas City with his family.
Anis Dayya began his career in the late 1990s at Proctor and Gamble’s distributor IATCO in Saudi Arabia. He later assumed roles with P&G’s U.S. headquarters as a global innovation manager. In 2006, he accepted a business development position with regional big-box C.E. retailer “eXtra,” where he chaired the creation of a subsidiary consumer-facing technology and content startup retailer that became the first to offer fully-legal music and movie downloads in the Middle East. Shortly thereafter, he was appointed CEO of Zonik and spearheaded its hyper-growth — achieving more than $1 billion in annual turnover, 500-plus full-time employees.
Today, he is leveraging his passion for disruptive consumer technologies to entirely new heights. As co-founder and CEO of hearable-tech startup Earmicro/Piearcings, he is leading a team that is on the bleeding edge; working feverishly to disrupt the burgeoning international market for hearables.
Liderman Duin is the founder of Bluepoint2, a cutting-edge organization that streamlines communication with patients prior to their appointments. An entrepreneur by heart with versatile international business development experience and an extensive marketing and technical career, delivering results to the healthcare industries for almost 20 years.
Liderman has been successful in designing, managing and building scalable technical solutions and sales operations for Fortune 500 companies, mid-size and startups across the Middle East, Europe, Latin America and the United States.
Liderman is known for his persistence on product and market validation and skillfully building ecosystems of partners to achieve big and complex goals to improve the interoperability of systems and the patient experience. Liderman is multi-lingual in English, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.
Jeff Dunn was a physician leader with St. Luke’s Health system who practiced as a hospitalist for nearly 10 years. He is an entrepreneur with a love of healthcare, innovation, and technology, as well as a champion of patient safety and quality.
Redivus Health is a physician-founded software company with a mission is to save lives through next generation clinical decision support. Enabled by mobile technology, the company ensures providers follow best practice guidelines through time-critical events (cardiac arrest, sepsis, and stroke).
Michael Fry is the co-founder and CEO of Astra Brands, including Brown Button Estate Sales and Circle Auction. Astra serves high net worth individuals by selling their personal property as they move or downsize. The companies have received numerous awards locally as well as nationally with inclusion in Inc. 5000 for 2017 and 2018.
Michael’s passion is for people. Through a company culture of “Good Soil” he focuses on helping his team achieve personal growth and continued professional development.
Michael is a founding board member and vice-chair of the National Estate Sale Association, as well as a CAGA certified appraiser. He is a two-time EstateSales.Net national conference speaker and has presented to the Kansas Bar Association.
Michael is a native Kansas Citian, married to his childhood sweetheart, and father to four little ones. He has an investment property side hustle and loves to read, grow vegetables, and kayak.
With a career that covers both media and technology, Donald Hawkins applies a diverse mixture of skills to his role as founder and chief executive officer of CitySmart. As a serial entrepreneur, Donald has a goal of creating companies that truly help the masses. His recent venture, CitySmart, utilizes machine learning to aid small businesses, municipalities, and the like affordably and effectively communicate with their audience through push notifications technology.
Before devoting his work fulltime to CitySmart, Donald was national sales director for Lifestyle Publications, where he helped oversee operational and sales functions of 50-plus markets and 3,000,000 readers throughout the United States.
Ramsey Jamoul is the CEO of Midwest eSports. He is an avid entrepreneur, programmer and gamer.
Ramsey was one of founders for the Wichita State University eSports team and helped build the infrastructure for eSports in the Midwest. Graduating from Wichita State University in 2015 with computer science, Ramsey is a passionate creator.
He now has his sights set on professionalizing amateur, collegiate and high school eSports around the United States. Ramsey is working diligently with his team to help players become the next Michael Jordan of eSports.
William Payne co-founded Simple Vet Solutions in February 2017 with his father, Dr. Bert Payne, DVM, MAM, to solve the need for a secure and effective veterinary recordkeeping system.
With a unique background in both physical chemistry and computer science, Will has leveraged his skillset to pursue a diverse range of projects, leading to a passion for the process of creating and developing new technologies. His entrepreneurial activities highlight a unique ability to create innovative solutions to challenges, which has enabled SVS to pioneer new products in the agriculture industry.
Originally from the South, Will completed his Master’s in Biomedical Engineering at Wake Forest University in 2015 and his Bachelor’s in Chemistry and Computer Science at Gardner-Webb University in 2014. He is expected to graduate with his Ph. D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from UNMC and MBA from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in May 2019.
Heather Spalding is founder and CEO at Cambrian. She manages organizational development, leads business strategy and development, and oversees projects. She is also heavily involved with creative direction and research for our augmented reality technology.
Before Cambrian, she worked at the KU Medical Center, where she did research under the Molecular Neuropharmacology and the Molecular and Integrative Physiology Sections. Prior to moving back to Kansas, where she was raised, she earned a degree in Biology at Purdue University, then relocated to Maryland to work at the National Institutes of Health on an Intramural Research Training Award.
Her research and contributions are published in a number of journals and range from addiction to traumatic brain injury. She was always interested in engineering as well as neurobiology and Cambrian was an opportunity for her to merge her interests.
She is married and has two children and currently resides in Leawood.
Spencer Toder is the co-founder of Atrial Innovations. Since receiving his MBA at Washington University, he has been active in the start-up community in St Louis by advising and investing in early stage technology and life science firms.
Prior to his commitment to Atrial, he started Confluence Realty, LLC, specializing in the development of multi-family housing and creative reuse of commercial buildings in the St. Louis area. He began his career at Collier’s International, leasing the @4240 Building at Cortex, one of St. Louis’ growing innovation centers. He is committed to building St. Louis as a venture capital hub that can leverage the scientific assets already present in the region.
As founder and CEO, Tammie Wahaus has led the strategic planning, business development, manufacturing, regulatory, clinical trial and commercialization activities of ELIAS Animal Health since 2014.
She has 25-plus years of experience serving in key leadership roles in public and private companies. She joined TVAX Biomedical (an affiliate) in 2012 as CFO and developed the animal health spin-off strategy.
Wahaus previously was an audit partner and national office advisor with Ernst & Young LLP. She also served as Global Controller and Principal Accounting Officer for a GE Global Insurance Holdings, where she oversaw the global accounting and reporting operations across four continents and implemented Six Sigma Quality process management systems in finance.
She is a graduate of Kansas State University (bachelors in business administration, accounting) and serves as an advisory board member for the KSU College of Business.
Steven Werner is the co-founder and CEO of Lawn Buddy. He is a leader with a passion to find innovative solutions to solve real world problems. This passion was the impetus for the creation of Lawn Buddy.
Steven has a diversified background in capital project management, structural engineering management, as well as four years active duty military service with the U.S. Marine Corps. One of Steven’s core strengths is his ability to maximize the performance and effectiveness of a team to accomplish goals. He thrives on efficiently solving problems and satisfying the needs of his customers. Steven strives to maintain a strong record of integrity driven leadership and mission accomplishment.
Lizz Whitacre is the founder and CEO of Pawlytics, a software company that helps pet rescues save more lives. Lizz is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for pets, innovation, and technology.
Lizz founded her first company, a non-profit, at 19 to save pets while simultaneously founding a student organization at UNL to connect student volunteers with rescues in Nebraska. From there she worked to open a cat café in Lincoln but realized a pivot was necessary and founded Family Pet Project, a website dedicated to helping pets stay out of the shelter and find new homes.
In 2015, Lizz was awarded the Inspire Award for Top Future Business Leader. In 2017, Lizz graduated from UNL with a B.S. in Business Administration specializing in entrepreneurship and innovation.
In 2018, Lizz won UNL’s New Venture Competition, completed Start Up School through Y Combinator and NMotion, a business accelerator based in Lincoln.