Editor’s note: KCultivators is a lighthearted profile series to highlight people who are meaningfully enriching Kansas City’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The KCultivator Series is sponsored by Plexpod, a progressive coworking platform offering next generation workspace for entrepreneurs, startups, and growth-stage companies of all sizes.
Age doesn’t define entrepreneurial talent and Chad Feather is proof, he said with a slight smile.
“I actually started my first company when I was 12,” said Feather, now an analyst at the KCRise Fund, recalling his introduction to the startup space. He led Premiere Sales, an e-commerce venture that saw him buying and selling overstock freight over a period of eight years.
Always ambitious, Feather continued down the entrepreneur’s path at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where he won the 2017 Student Entrepreneur of the Year award for his work with Premiere Sales, he said.
Committed to the early exposure of entrepreneurial ideas, Feather served as president of the school’s Enactus team — a competitive entrepreneurial pitch program that sees students engaged in real-world problem solving and ecosystem building.
“The Enactus program at UMKC is a phenomenal organization. The group’s ability to use entrepreneurship to have a strong and sustainable impact on the community is truly unique,” he said. “My time with Enactus was truly life changing and I owe a lot of that to Ben Williams, the Regnier staff, and others at UMKC.”
Click here for a look at how UMKC Enactus is energizing the Kansas City startup scene.
Such a philosophy has continued to fuel Feather in his post-grad adventures, he pointed out, referencing his tenure as a Venture For America fellow, his role as a mentor for MECA Challenge — a day long innovation competition for high school students, presented by the education arm of the Kansas City Startup Foundation — and as a founder of LeadKC.
“Starting a business is already hard enough, but when you’re younger, it’s even harder. There are more barriers you have to overcome,” Feather explained of LeadKC, an organization that aims to empower and develop Kansas City’s next generation of ecosystem builders.
“Beyond that, it can be kind of difficult to get involved in the startup community when you graduate college,” he said, noting the challenging sentiments graduates face. “Why go to work for a startup when you can maybe make a lot more working for a large corporation? Nothing against it, but you can’t make the impact that you can at a smaller startup.”
Feather hopes the effort — which is in early stage development — can serve as a new vehicle of entrepreneurial support for Kansas City, tailor-made to meet the needs of a category of struggling entrepreneurs, he explained.
“I understand how tough it is to start a company as a founder,” Feather said. “Now to understand the support you can get from the community can go a long way in helping you, [is why I do what I do.]”
Startland News sat down with Feather to find out more about his passion for leadership, Chiefs football, and why he couldn’t leave Kansas City. The KCultivator Series is sponsored by Plexpod, which reimagines a workspace model where businesses share resources and grow together.
Hometown: Kearney, Missouri.
A historical figure you wish you could follow on social media and why: Henry Ford, mostly because he did two things: he completely redid the entire industry — obviously transportation; building cars. But he also redid the manufacturing process with assembly lines. I think he would have a lot of great business sense that he could have shared with a lot of people. I wish I could see what some of those things were, 100 years later.
Weirdest thing you’ve eaten: It had to have been some food I had when I was in China working on a UMKC Enactus project. I don’t know exactly what it was, but guarantee it was on that trip. … There’s many times where I’d sit down and there’s this lazy susan, spinning around the table … and the food would come around. … You feel rude if you don’t eat it.
Best thing you’ve eaten in Kansas City: I love Cupini’s, which is an Italian restaurant in Westport. I think it’s really, really good. Kind of like a little hole in the wall, but it’s kind of well known at the same time so it’s not completely that way.
If you could go to any concert what would it be: I wish I could see Queen live in concert during their peak. I wish I could see the Live Aid concert live and that’s even better because you’re getting more than just Queen. You get the entire gamut of all the star bands at the time.
Why do you call Kansas City home: I grew up here, but when I joined Venture For America I had the opportunity to go other places. I interviewed in a couple other cities, had job offers in a couple different cities. To me, Kansas City has three things: 1) kindness; 2) location; and 3) a community. You go all over the place and it’s very separated in terms of ideas and thinking, and the startup community’s not very collaborative a lot of times. But in Kansas City, everybody was helping each other grow and I already had a network built up here and I’m like, “Why would I even go someplace else when I could already have something here that I already enjoy and love?” … In Kansas City, it’s kind of like its own startup in a way, where you can go and work there and be impacting the city itself and its not long before it becomes your own company.
What startup do you find most interesting right now: I think PayIt — the way they are completely transforming government — is huge. If you say that your main customer is government, most people call you crazy because you’re going after one of the hardest customers to get. They’re completely transforming the industry, making things way easier for the consumer, making things way easier for government and society.
What you would do if you weren’t in your line of work: Originally — this is probably five or six years ago — I was going to go to law school and become a sports agent. It’s changed obviously since then. But I would love to do something in sports if I wasn’t doing what I’m doing now.
Biggest accomplishment: I would say starting a company and running that for awhile. That was a lot of work, but I learned a lot from it and I’m proud of what I did.
Biggest failure: On the Enactus team at UMKC, I was a freshman and they put me in charge of one of the projects, which was called at the time, “Let’s Can Hunger.” It was all about trying to solve the hunger issue in Kansas City. I took it over and it failed miserably. We had some fine ideas, but it was not good. It fell flat on its face.
You have a time machine and can travel anywhere in the past or future. Where and when do you go? I would want to go with the 60’s, so I could go to the Super Bowl the Chiefs won. It would be cool to experience that, as big of a Chiefs fan as I am now … I’d want to go back and see that game.
Favorite travel locale: I love Colorado! Growing up, my family would go to Colorado every single summer. We would go and ride four wheelers and do a lot of stuff outdoors in the mountains. I love doing that!
Your mantra or motto: There’s a quote by guy named Alan Kay, who was a big scientist, he said something along the lines of: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
Guilty pleasure TV show: I’m a big, “Big Brother” fan. … I get a lot of crap for it, but it’s my guilty pleasure show. People don’t understand that.