First impressions: Kansas City’s organic “all in this together” approach boosts the vibrancy of its startup community and thriving cultural scene, said Melissa Vincent.
And one of Pipeline’s premier events should reflect that personality, she added.
“I think that to be able to step in to Kansas City in this role with Pipeline where there is such an awesome community… I get to come in and really see where Pipeline fits into that, how we can help and what we can do to extend the culture that’s already here and really continue to grow it,” said Vincent, executive director of Pipeline and recent successor to founding president and CEO Joni Cobb. “That is very much my personality — is to be a bridge builder and to create community.”
Click here to read more about Vincent’s background and appointment to the executive director position at Pipeline.
What is Pipeline?
Pipeline is a fellowship of high-performing entrepreneurs, now boasting more than 130 members who employ more than 2,700 people in Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska, have raised more than $609 million in outside capital since joining Pipeline and are doing business in more than 85 countries.
In the vein of such openness, the annual Pipeline Innovators Daytime Showcase — which in its most recent iteration was hosted in Omaha in 2019 and traditionally exclusive to Pipeline members and curated guests — is returning to Kansas City Jan. 23 at the Crossroads Hotel as a public-facing event, Vincent said.
Click here for tickets to the Pipeline Innovators Daytime Showcase.
“In past years, it has been a kind of big gala, and this year we’re breaking it up,” she said. “We’ll have the daytime showcase, which is open to the public, and combining it with an evening celebration, which is also open to the public, and we’re taking our kind of larger-than-life gala we’d normally have and having a Pipeline family dinner-style event in April.”
“It was decided that we could scale down a bit on the gala [from previous years],” Vincent added, laughing. “I didn’t get to experience them, but from the videos I’ve seen — it was a massive event.”
Click here for photos from Pipeline’s 10-year gala celebration in 2017.
The January showcase is expected to focus on various speakers and panels to cater more to the public and the community as a whole, as well as graduating the 2019 fellows and introducing the 2020 class, she said.
The 2019 fellows include:
- Kansas City — Bek Abdullayev, Super Dispatch; Anis Dayya, EarMicro; Jeff Dunn, Redivus Health; Liderman Duin, Bluepoint2; Michael Fry, Brown Button Estate Sales; Donald Hawkins, Griffin Technologies; 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 Ag Solutions
- Lincoln — Lizz Whitacre, Pawlytics
“It’s just a great opportunity, especially for the startup community, but really anyone in Kansas City to attend and network with some really great entrepreneurs and businessmen and women who will be there for the event,” she added.
The separation of the events is expected to aid the organization’s goals to host more community-focused events throughout the year, said Vincent.
“[We can] take some of the great knowledge bases that we have in our entrepreneurs and share that with the larger communities while also keeping the awards and things that have internal value and meaning at our gala in April,” she said.
“My hope is that in doing this in a different way, we’ll get a great attendance and they’ll support my hope and desire to really take what we’re doing at Pipeline and share our knowledge and our heart with the community,” Vincent added.
A recent transplant from Oklahoma City, Vincent notes a contrast she’s observed: a general lack of government support in Kansas City, Missouri, that can serve as the underlying foundation for a wealth of support organizations in the metro area, she said. That need for Kansas City to be be more self-sufficient fuels a grassroots-style ecosystem, she said.
“Oklahoma is actually different — we have some really well-funded organizations by the government that are helping to grow the entrepreneurial scene,” Vincent said. “I think, because of that, it makes organizations like Pipeline that much more important [in Kansas City] because you don’t have the luxury that other states have in that government-funded support. So the ecosystem becomes much more of a grassroots and tight knit community.”
“What I’ve noticed so far in Kansas City is that there’s much more of that hands-on, ‘Hey, let me help you,’ and ‘We’re all in this together,’ mentality … because we are,” she added. “I love that about Kansas City and I think that is something that is unique. I would like to only continue to grow and support that.”
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.