A lunchtime affair at the 2019 Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Awards quickly turned from celebratory mingling to shock and awe for Rhonda Dolan.
“For [the Chamber] to recognize my efforts over the last year, which have been pretty intense, means a lot,” said Dolan, founder and CEO of Udo, reflecting on her honor Thursday as the Chamber’s Entrepreneur of the Year. “It’s a little bit overwhelming. I’m still soaking it in.”
Such kudos come as Udo — an on-demand personal assistant platform — reaches a critical crossroads, Dolan explained.
“My hope is that there’s an awareness element for us,” she explained of how the win could push Udo forward. “… We have customers lining up, but we need some capital. So, we’re trying to figure out that next step. We’re ready to rock and roll, but we need a little bit of help.”
A previous Digital Sandbox award winner, entrepreneurial support programs have been great resources for Dolan in the run-up to her recognition by the chamber, she noted.
In addition to the Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the Chamber awarded its small business of the year honor — the Mr. K Award — to TREKK Design Group, a 150 employee, civil engineering firm with an affinity for environmental work.
The company is responsible for such projects as lighting and drainage on the iconic Christopher S. Bond bridge.
“There is a huge problem with old infrastructure in this country and the unseen things underground,” said, Kimberly Robinett, managing partner and CFO at TREKK. “We are the eyes for the unseen.”
Building a Kansas City business in the spirit of Ewing Kauffman, Robinett was presented with the Mr. K Award at Thursday’s luncheon for her efforts as an entrepreneur.
“I was at Sprint and my husband had been in the civil space his whole career, and we saw an opportunity to do work that our lives touch every day,” said Robinett. “The work that we do everyday is clean water and safe roads. It doesn’t get any more rewarding than that.”
An additional nine companies were finalists for the Mr. K Award and were honored with spots on the Chamber’s Top 10 Small Businesses list, including: Agforce, Charlie Hustle, IBC, Inc., KC Bier Co., Lever1, Odimo, RFP360, Ripple Glass, and VeriShip.
Click here to read more about the companies in the Top 10.
Thursday’s ceremony also saw The Roasterie honored with the 2019 Legacy of KC award; Datalocker with the inaugural Weida International Small Business Award; and Weave Gotcha Covered with the 2019 Diverse Business of the Year Award.