A founder who helped drive one of the metro’s biggest startup exits is expected to be heralded in October as UMKC’s Kansas City Entrepreneur of the Year.
Justin Davis, co-founder and CEO of BacklotCars, will take the stage Oct. 12 alongside five other honorees — business leaders who have shaped entrepreneurship, according to officials at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
In fall 2020, BacklotCars posted a then-record $425 million exit, selling the Kansas City-headquartered auto platform to KAR Global.
“What we’ve shown in Kansas City is that we can build something really, really great,” said Davis in December 2020, reflecting on the sale’s close and its projected ripple effect. “It’s our duty now as the professionals, as the corporates, as the venture capitalists in the community to help make these companies great, because it creates a lot of wealth and gives this region experience.”
Davis and co-founders Josh Parsons, Fabricio Solanes, and Ryan Davis had by late 2020 grown the BacklotCars team to more than 150 — many of whom had equity in the company — since its founding in 2014.
“Now they can take that capital and invest back into our region,” Davis said of BacklotCars’ employees who earned a payout with the massive deal.
Click here to read about how Anders Ericson, former vice president of sales at BacklotCars, recently launched the digital auto retailer startup Whipz.
“I would challenge people to get off the sidelines and get in the game. Help one another,” Davis said. “There’s not this secretive nature to why Silicon Valley works well: people buy in and are supportive. I think there’s a massive opportunity here. We were just one part of the story, and this region has a tremendous potential and groundwork to do something very amazing.”
BacklotCars’ historic exit was only surpassed this week, when Rx Savings Solutions — led by founder Michael Rea, UMKC’s 2019 Kansas City Entrepreneur of the Year — announced the expected acquisition of his startup for $875 million by The McKesson Corporation.
Click here to see more past winners.
The full list of 2022 Entrepreneur of the Year honorees includes:
- David Steward, founder and chairman of World Wide Technology (Henry W. Bloch International Entrepreneur of the Year)
- Justin Davis, co-founder and CEO of BacklotCars (Kansas City Entrepreneur of the Year)
- Jay Coen Gilbert, Andrew Kassoy, and Bart Houlahan, fo-founders of B Lab Global (Marion and John Kreamer Award for Social Entrepreneurship)
- Student Entrepreneur of the Year — Not yet announced
The Entrepreneur of the Year awards program is set for 7 p.m. Oct. 12 at Plexpod Westport Commons.
Click here to register for the event.