Editor’s note: Startland News is showcasing five Kansas City changemakers from five local organizations through its second annual Community Builders to Watch series. The following highlights one of the 2022 honorees, selected from more than 100 initial nominees. Click here to view the full list of Community Builders to Watch — presented by Engenious Design.
Merging social and professional connections is the best way to form authentic partnerships, said Emerson Hodes. Such ties, in turn, spark innovation and could lead to future businesses.
Hodes keeps busy with work in his own intelligence firm, venture advising, scouting, marketing and cryptocurrency. But ultimately, he strives to connect, which is why he founded The Loop KC — a social organization focused on bringing together young professionals to create genuine friendships and ignite the next generation of business leaders in Kansas City.
Since its launch in 2019, The Loop has expanded beyond KC and into Scottsdale, Arizona, and Des Moines, Iowa. Hodes is currently in the process of establishing groups in Omaha and Denver as well.
Click here to apply for The Loop KC.
Watch the video below, then keep reading to learn why Hodes thrives on meeting someone new every day.
QUESTION: Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
ANSWER: I was born and raised in Kansas City, and my family’s fairly large here in town. My dad is one of 11, so I have about 56 first cousins on that side of the family. I went to Rockhurst High School, and then I went to college at Vanderbilt University to study European history and entrepreneurship.
I moved back to Kansas City in 2018 for a company that my cousin started called Chief of Staff KC. It’s a local recruiting firm here in town. I did that full-time until I went part-time to start an intelligence firm last May. I also am part-time with Blue Venture Advisors where we do medical and military advising. During the pandemic, we worked to get COVID testing in the American market. My grandfather and I ended up sourcing a million test kits for the State of Kansas and hundreds of thousands for the St. Luke’s health and hospital system here locally. I also run a crypto private placement fund on the side with a partner of mine. Finally, I founded and run a networking group here in town for young professionals.
The pandemic was a pivotal moment in my life where I realized I was losing control of my own self, and I had to take that control back. I vowed that I wanted to load myself with work because it gives me a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Without it, I don’t really feel like myself. So, I decided that I am going to try and make as big of an impact as possible.
Community Builders to Watch honorees will be celebrated June 15 at a Startland News reception and networking event, presented in partnership with Cyderes, C2FO, KC BizCare, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Profile videos from the Community Builders to Watch will be shown on screen at the KC Live! stage at Power & Light’s Live Block, along with a special concert featuring the Black Creatures.
Click here for event details.
Q: When did you first realize your work was building community in Kansas City?
A: One of my biggest mentors, Scott Havens, founded a networking group here in Kansas City. He took me under his wing when I moved back to Kansas City at 24 and taught me the value of networking. I really took to networking and just started meeting as many people as I could, to the point where today, I have a coffee, lunch or happy hour with someone new every single day. In doing so, I continue to meet various community leaders in every field.
In building The Loop, it was important for me to take those networking skills I acquired and apply them to helping others learn the same. I wanted to not only inspire that same sense of connection in other young professionals — but also help them realize their full potential and challenge them to do more with their time. Because I know that we don’t have a ton of money to donate to charities and nonprofits right now, but we do have our time.
The only requirement to be in The Loop is that you’re volunteering in the community. You have to care about your community. We’ve created local partnerships with five different nonprofits to provide members with opportunities to get involved. It’s been really fun to watch the growth of the group.
Q: What is your hope for Kansas City’s tomorrow?
A: I want to continue to help attract young professionals to Kansas City. There’s a lot of exciting developments coming up in the city, and I want to be part of that growth. Through The Loop, we are starting to build this national presence. I see us building groups in as many cities as possible, because my ultimate goal is to eventually have a youth leaders summit in Kansas City.
I’m thinking about calling it “Loop-Palooza” where it’s a hybrid business and music festival where people come out for networking, panels, sessions around the city and then celebrating local artists and musicians at night. When we combine social life with professional life, we can build genuine friendships that lead to future businesses.
Q: How can the community get involved with and support your work?
A: I think the community does a damn good job of being involved already. You don’t need to help me — help other young professionals. Maybe it’s someone in your own business or your niece or nephew or someone who you just really like and think they’d be a good fit for The Loop. Always have them reach out to me; I’m always looking to bring more people into that group. We have 150 now, and we add 10 new people every quarter.
Q: What do you want your legacy to be?
A: I try to live it out every day. I don’t really think about it a lot because I don’t look back, and I don’t really look forward. I try to live in the now as much as I can and try to make an impact on a daily basis. To me, that’s doing what I can to give back to my community as often as I can. I sit on three non-profit boards and work to support others’ journeys in their lives as well.
I just want my legacy to be one of a servant leader that always gave back and never asked for anything in return. I went to Rockhurst, and we were taught to be a man for others — to set the world on fire and live a life of servant leadership. That’s all I try to do every day.
WHAT WE DO
Engenious Design is a creative engineering firm that creates medical devices and high technology systems for our clients.
WHO WE ARE
We are designers, makers, engineers who create new things that make the world a better place. Our team includes Electrical, Embedded Software, Mechanical and Test Engineers, Industrial Designers, Project Managers, Product Managers and others.
WHAT WE BELIEVE
Our team is guided by these four cultural aspirations:
Relate: We invest in healthy relationships with our team, clients, suppliers, partners, and our community
Create: We create new products that improve lives
Produce: We work quickly to get what’s important done
Improve: We have healthy unrest with the status quo, and we take responsibility to make things better