A desire to move mountains is driving Joni Cobb to move on from Pipeline — her family of 13 years.
“I’ve been thinking about it for many years … not because I don’t love what I do. I love what I do [with Pipeline],” said Cobb, president and CEO of the Midwest-based accelerator and entrepreneur network. “I’ve been having this daily thought that there are some pretty interesting chapters in the book of things I want to do. My fear is that I could really sit there at Pipeline forever because I’m working with friends and I’m doing something that I think is moving the needle … but there’s this feeling that I want more.”
“We started [Pipeline] in a boardroom trying to figure out how to make the rest of the world contend with this part of the country. There’s lots of people working on that now and we don’t claim to be the only people who care about that, but this [new] goal … it’s definitely taking on a mountain,” she added. “That’s the kind of work I like to do and the thing that gets me up in the morning, so right now, it’s really just working on identifying what that next mountain would be.”
Consumed by the demands of providing a successor, the projected last day for the founder is set for sometime in January 2020, she said, noting the search is limiting her ability to ideate on her own forthcoming ventures.
“We still have not identified the next leader and I’m taking that very seriously, along with the board, to make sure we find that right person,” Cobb said. “Until we do that, it’s just super hard to get focused on what comes next. I don’t have enough energy to think about what that would be. I’m consumed with Pipeline even to this day.”
“My kids are all now into college and they are just exploring the world and taking it on,” Cobb added. “It inspired me to say, ‘What options do I still have?’ and “What do I want to go out there and try?’ I’m taking my own leap of faith that there are more things out there for me to explore.”
For Cobb, the creation of an expansive family of entrepreneurs is the most impactful memory to look back on, she said.
“The entrepreneurs that are within Pipeline are grateful for the lifelong relationships they’ve built with each other and I along with them,” she added. “That’s the big overarching feeling that I think about all the time. There were hard times but that’s a story that every organization, and every family, has right?”
Click here to read more about the 2019 inductees into the Pipeline fellowship.
Click here to apply for the 2020 Pipeline fellowship. Applications close Oct. 21.
A few critical moments along the way — like rushing to expand the organization across the Midwest from it’s previous stronghold in Kansas — saw many Pipeline family members come together to raise needed funds and garner support, Cobb said.
“It was so incredible to watch the entrepreneurs draw everything they had,” she said. “It was such a perilous and exciting and gratifying time to watch them rally like that. It was obviously a big deal for me, but also for them because of that ownership they felt and passion that they had to have to make sure Pipeline was not only secure, but expanded. I think the things I will always cherish the most are those group moments.”
After spending years buoyed by the support of the family, Cobb turns now to updating resumes and scouring the horizon for new challenges, she said.
“My main feeling is gratitude and also it inspires me to tell people who are starting on their career path that you just never know what will happen — if you just keep your eyes open and do the best that you can with the opportunities that you have in front of you,” Cobb said. “You just never know what the future will hold… which is very funny for me to talk to other people about.”
Click here to view Joni Cobb’s new personal website.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.