The Ford Motor Company Fund is bringing a new pitch competition — and $50,000 in prizes — to Kansas City this summer as part of its effort to boost women social entrepreneurs.
Announced during the final moments of last week’s HI-HERImpact virtual entrepreneurship summit for Kansas City, the planned July 29 competition is part of a national effort powered by the Ford Motor Company Fund and 1863 Ventures and is open to women-run social impact ventures in the Kansas City metro.
“Kansas City, Missouri, enjoys a tremendous history of innovation,” organizers said in a release. “HI-HERImpact is excited to partner with entrepreneurs, investors and ecosystem builders in the region to support local entrepreneurs.”
Click here to apply for the HI-HERImpact pitch competition. The deadline is July 9.
Winners of the competition are expected to split $50,000 in prize money; divvied up between two $5,000 awards for early stage businesses, one $10,000 and one $25,000 prize for later-stage businesses, and one $5,000 audience choice winner.
“We do programs like this in other locations, and having the chance to do it in Kansas City is a great pleasure,” said Tony Reinhart, director of government and community relations, Midwest and Southern Region, at Ford Motor Company.
The June 23-24 HI-HERImpact summit was the Ford Motor Company Fund’s debut experience in Kansas City, organizers said, crediting Reinhart — who also serves as president of the Northland CAPS board of directors — as an influential force in bringing the program and pitch competition to the metro.
Kansas City’s social entrepreneurs should be inspired by the legacy of Henry Ford, whose industry-reshaping vision started as humbly — and fraught with detours — as any other venture, Reinhart said Thursday during the summit.
“It’s hard for people to believe that at one time Ford Motor Company was a startup; and more importantly, that Henry Ford was an entrepreneur,” he told the audience. “After Henry left the farm and went into Detroit, he had a job as chief engineer for the Edison Illuminating Company, but he had a passion for the burgeoning development of automobiles. He got two or three different patents and gave up that good-paying job, and eventually went out and started the Detroit Automotive Company and then the Henry Ford Company, which were not nearly as successful of startups as the Ford Motor Company, which he started in 1903.
“So there’s something to aspire to.”
Ford brought a segment of its operations to Kansas City in 1906, Reinhart said, detailing local connections to the global brand that continue to this day.
“We created a sales office down on Winchester Avenue, which became a Model T production facility in 1909. Back then, we were making 70 Model Ts a day; now at our facility up north of the river, we make 65 F150 trucks an hour and 45 transit vans an hour,” he said, referencing Ford’s Claycomo plant. “So that tells you how much the industry has changed over the years.”
Watch Day 1 of the HI-HERImpact virtual entrepreneurship summit below. The slate of local panelists included Conner Hazelrigg, founder and CEO of 1773 Innovation Company; Tammy Buckner, CEO and co-founder of WeCodeKC and COO of PlaBook; Katie Mabry Van Dieren, founder of the Strawberry Swing Indie Craft Fair and Shop Local KC; Adrienne Haynes, managing partner of SEED Law; and Lauren Conaway, founder and CEO of InnovateHER KC.