Twenty-five founders are entering the Pipeline network this week, Melissa Vincent said Thursday, revealing the newest additions to its elite fellowship, as well as the just-debuted Pathfinder cohort for earlier-stage, underserved entrepreneurs.
“We were blown away by the response,” said Vincent, executive director of Pipeline, noting the fall 2021 recruiting period was the most vigorous in at least the past three years.
Applications were buoyed by the development of Pipeline’s new Pathfinder program for entrepreneurs who might not yet meet eligibility criteria for its traditional fellowship. The industry agnostic initiative specifically targets underserved entrepreneurs leading scalable companies, but who have not yet made the leap to full-time founder.
Vincent admitted she was overwhelmed by the readiness of the companies ultimately selected for the inaugural Pathfinder cohort.
“The stage of companies, diversity of founders and the types of businesses are really [across the spectrum],” she said, noting startup ideas that range from traditional tech to a selfie studio and a fuel delivery service. “One of our Pathfinder applicants has a non-tech company where he offers a service for employers where he’ll go fill up their employees’ gas tanks. That’s maybe not what people would expect from Pipeline, but he has something that could be scalable. And with the programming and resources that we offer, we believe we can help get him to a place where he could scale that business.”
Among the founders selected for the 2022 Pipeline Pathfinder cohort (including two named to Startland News’ list of Kansas City Startups to Watch in 2022):
- Jacob Calhoun, SOYA Fuel (Wichita) — A fuel delivery app for people who are tired of making stops at the gas station, when they could be using that time and effort to make it to that meeting in time, or get home without making any detours.
- India Wells-Carter, Fresh Factory KC (Kansas City) — Social selfie attraction with more than a dozen selfie art rooms.
- Olivia DeRusse, Queen Vibes KC (Kansas City) — A Kansas City wellness initiative created by a collective of Black women. Event-focused fitness and wellness opportunities inspired by Black girl magic.
- Juaquan Herron, Venboo (Kansas City) — A tech application that helps small non-enterprise businesses locate/book vendor opportunities and track their expense so they may strategically sell at those events.
- Jonaie Johnson, Interplay (Kansas City) — Creates remote crating for dog parents with their product, the PlayTach. With the remote dog crate attachment, pet parents can interact and care for their dog from the click of a button via the Interplay app.
- Hannah Klitz, Oak Barn Beef (West Point, Nebraska) — Provides Nebraska raised and dry aged family farm beef directly to consumers.
- Jessica Munoz Valerio, Learning Careers Environment (Kearney, Missouri) — A tech gaming company, dedicated to providing career education via sophisticated simulations.
- Molly O’Neil, Superb (Omaha, Nebraska) — Tech platform developed to advocate for not only facilities in senior care, but the healthcare workers as well.
- Zachary Oshinbanjo, Vetelligence (Kansas City) — Utilizes data to enable any organization to create a more equitable talent relationship with the military community through AI and consumer driven value.
- Kwinton Scarbrough, PawConX (Kansas City) — Works to remove barriers to social interaction by allowing both introverted and extroverted communication with like-minded dog parents to help create community.
- Letisha Wexstten, V15Able (Imperial, Missouri) — An online platform for connecting businesses with disabled Americans who want to work.
- Lee Zuvanich, Appsta (Overland Park) — Custom software development platform.
Click here to read more about the newly announced Pathfinder founders.
As with the Pathfinder cohort, the vast majority of incoming Pipeline fellows — a range of entrepreneurs who’ve committed full-time to their startups — hail from Kansas City this year.
“When you look at what Pipeline offers — a year-long fellowship of resources and networking — there’s such deep need, especially as other programs are no longer in Kansas City,” Vincent said. “Our ability to attract a wide spectrum of entrepreneurs — those with tech startups, those with non-tech-enabled companies — in an industry agnostic way is really special.”
But not just any entrepreneurs make the cut, she emphasized.
“Someone could have an amazing tech idea and it’s truly going to be the next big thing, but if you ask them ‘What if it sells? What happens next?’ and their responses are ‘I’m done! I’m going to go buy an island!’ … well, that’s not what we’re looking for,” Vincent detailed.
“We’re looking for the serial entrepreneur who’s going to say ‘I’m going to scale this idea, and then start another company.’ That’s where you’re going to have real economic impact on the region,” she continued. “And what you learn with Pipeline Entrepreneurs like Jennifer McDonald at Jenny Dawn Cellars in Wichita and Brooke Mullen with Sapahn in Nebraska, they are serial entrepreneurs with not as much tech-enabled startups, but they’re still growing and scaling.”
The new Pipeline fellows include:
- David Biga, Particle Space (Lenexa) — Creating the proptech infrastructure for the internet through plug-n-play API services.
- Nick Buchanan, BUCS Analytics (Kansas City) — Real time analysis of key financial, operational and market metrics coming from multiple data sources such as ERP, CRM, MRP, Payroll and Project Management.
- Terri Foudray, ConvIOT (Overland Park) — Improves productivity by leveraging factory floor data for real-time, prescriptive action (formerly RUMBLE IoT).
- Jannae Gammage, The Market Base (Overland Park) — Helps entrepreneurs, product creators, and small businesses achieve more with unlimited expert marketing support at one flat monthly rate.
- Mark Goetz, HomeCare Advocacy Network (Omaha, Nebraska) — Delivers senior care services in the areas of companionship, personal care and dementia related services along with home health and hospice support services.
- Claude Harris, College Coaching Network (Kansas City) — Provides college planning and scholarship services with the highest levels of customer satisfaction.
- Philip Hickman, PlaBook (Lee’s Summit) — Innovative reading technology that uses artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and speech recognition to help children learn to read.
- Joshua Lewis, Updown Nightlife (Kansas City) — Monetizes consumer data and behavior by matching the right people with the right brands at the right time in order to increase consumer spending in a fun user friendly way.
- Jessica Loseke, Midwest Barrel Company (Lincoln, Nebraska) — Premier barrel broker for domestic and international client partners, guaranteeing the finest quality fresh-dumped, once-used bourbon and wine barrels with fast, personalized service.
- Carlanda McKinney, Bodify (Overland Park) — Addresses one of the apparel industry’s most costly conundrums; profit shrinking returns from online orders.
- Jeff Stull, RiskAnalytics (Overland Park) — Protects businesses and individuals by producing real-time authoritative and trustworthy threat intelligence — and then weaponizing it.
- Jeffrey Weiner, Realquantum (Overland Park) — Helps commercial real estate valuation professionals eliminate tedious manual work and boost revenues 50 percent.
- James West, Clara Biotech (Lawrence) — Developing the Exosome Sorting System, while focused on establishing strategic partnerships for development in diagnostic and therapeutic applications, equipment manufacturing, antibody sourcing, distribution, sales and marketing.
Click here to read more about the founders just selected for Pipeline.
As the Pipeline fellows and Pathfinder cohort members begin programming this week, Pipeline also is preparing for its hotly anticipated Innovators Gala. Largely on hiatus because of the ongoing pandemic, the event is set to return in-person April 29 in Kansas City.
Two years’ worth of entrepreneurs are set to be honored with Pipeline announcing Innovator of the Year Awards for its 2020 and 2021 fellowships, Vincent said.
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.