College curriculum often falls short of the crucial soft skills to get young entrepreneurs from coffee chats to the head of the table, said Kaylee Chappelow.
“I don’t want to say college sucks … but I think we all agree that it doesn’t touch on the soft skills,” laughed Chappelow, customer success manager at insurtech startup RiskGenius. “I thought I was so equipped coming out of college, but I had no idea what I was doing.”
“I was walking into a meeting and was like, ‘Where do I sit?’ and ‘Do I talk to these people in the elevator?’ and ‘I want to get coffee with this person but I’m not sure what to do or how to approach them.’… and three years into the business world, I feel like that’s just escalated — this idea that there are a lot of things that you actually don’t learn in college that are super important to being a successful adult,” she added.
Focusing on skills like effective networking, navigating professional workplaces, and financial acumen — RiskGenius is expected to host the four-part series, “Adulting Genius,” through 2020 as the startup aims to aid budding entrepreneurs in kickstarting their careers at any age, Chappelow said.
RiskGenius was selected as a Startup to Watch in 2019. Click here to read more about their journey as a startup.
A February 25 event — “Anti-Social Networking: Maintaining a Network with Minimal Effort” — is expected to feature Jeremy Smith, RiskGenius COO, as its main speaker at Overland Park-based GRID Collaborative Workspace, she added.
“We already have over 100 people registered for the Tuesday event and we’ve gotten such good feedback from bosses saying, ‘This is exactly what I need for my young professionals,’ and ‘I’ve been trying to figure out ways to plug them in,’” Chappelow said.
Click here to register or learn more about the Feb. 25 “Anti-Social Networking” event.
Later events are expected to feature Scott Havens, HUB International vice president, Jennifer Katrulya, JenKat Consulting founder, and Matt Benge, AssuredPartners sales team leader, she added.
The potential impact on the Kansas City startup community was enough to fully support the project when Chappelow first approached the team, said Rebecca Burney, RiskGenius senior operations associate.
“Most things people do — it’s kind of quid pro quo, like you give something to get something, but this whole idea just seems totally additive,” Burney said. “The young professional community just betters as a whole the more equipped everyone is with these types of skills. The benefits are never-ending and the audience is always going to be there. There’s going to be professionals year after year that are going to need this.”
RiskGenius’ veteran team is expected to power the new educational initiatives, she added.
“I wouldn’t say this is relevant to the insurtech part of our company, but definitely to the startup part,” Burney said. “I’d say half of our workforce is [newer] to the community and then half is established — which is kind of perfect dynamic because it’s not just a bunch of newbies fresh off the block. Just at any place you’re working, but especially in our building [with] all the open space, it’s really important to get to know everyone properly.”
While the target demographic is 25- to 30-year-olds, the events are open to professionals of any age as well, she added.
“We don’t want to exclude anyone who’s there,” Burney said. “In terms of professions, [the target audience] is pretty broad. I guess you could say it’s like [people who have] desk jobs. Just anyone who has to interact with other people, especially with different skill sets and different ages.”
“There are plenty of people who want that second job change so we may see some outliers,” Chappelow added. “We’ve actually had quite a few people that want to come who are not young professionals, but still see it as relevant either for themselves or to pass on to others and scope it out for their team.”
The event series might continue on past the initially planned four programs, depending on feedback, she said, noting additional materials like a podcast on adulting tips are being considered to supplement the educational process.
“There are things brewing that will continue as the momentum continues,” Chappelow said.
Expanding the events to broader networks is a priority as well, Burney added, noting web conferencing for future events could potentially provide wider reaches for the startup’s content.
“We definitely want to streamline it and make it more interactive with people not just in the Kansas City area,” she said.
“But the kickoff event — it’s food, giveaways, and condensed good content,” Burney added, laughing. “This is not a long, boring, snooze-fest event. We’ve worked really hard to make it relevant and as short as we can so I think it will be well worth people’s time.”