Midwest entrepreneurs deserve the resources they need to scale into high-growth ventures, said Melissa Vincent, announcing the launch this week of applications for Pipeline’s latest fellowship and Pathfinder program for overlooked founders.
Tapping into its network of more than 180 entrepreneurs who have generated over $2.2 billion in revenues, Pipeline’s support system ranges from intense programming, professional development and access to a nationwide and regional database of advisors, said Vincent, executive director of Pipeline.
Pipeline members like Toby Rush, Leandro Castro, Maria Flynn and Justin Kallhoff have led their companies through successful exits and continue to lend their expertise and support through the program, she added. Many members are now angel investors or have started innovative investment firms (like Carlos Antequera whose startup Novel Capital is among those detailed in Startland News’ 2022 Venture Capital-Backed Companies Report).
“Pipeline Entrepreneurs was a huge help to me in building Orbis Biosciences,” said Maria Flynn, founder of Orbis, which was acquired by an East Coast pharmaceutical firm in 2020, and now CEO of Ambiologix. “The content and camaraderie are invaluable, and we are so fortunate to have Pipeline in our region. If you are building a high-growth company and thinking about applying, go for it. Pipeline is so worth your time.”
Click here to apply for the Pipeline fellowship. Applications close Nov. 16.
Pipeline’s Pathfinder program, which supports underserved entrepreneurs who do not yet qualify for the fellowship, also is returning for its second year.
Designed exclusively for entrepreneurs who identify as women, minority, or leading a business in a rural community, the program is expected to cover similar topics similar to the full fellowship, like market validation, business models, financials, funding, and communication.
Each Pipeline Pathfinder participant will be matched with a mentor who will support and mentor them during the duration of their fellowship year. The Pathfinder participants and Pipeline fellows will intentionally be brought together for networking events and different professional development sessions as we collectively continue to power the Midwest ecosystem and grow the Pipeline network, Vincent said.
“We started the Pathfinder program because we recognized that there was a gap in Pipeline’s resources (as well as regional resources) for underrepresented entrepreneurs who were specifically looking to build scalable, high-growth companies,” she said. “We are incredibly excited to see this important program continue to expand in 2023 with our second Pathfinder cohort, while still providing resources to our 2022 Pathfinders. Our hope is that by building out this earlier entry point into the Pipeline Fellowship program we are able to create a continuum of resources, network and support for underserved entrepreneurs looking to build high growth companies that previously did not exist.”
Click here to apply for Pipeline Pathfinder. Applications close Nov. 16.
Pipeline Pathfinder applicants do not need to be working full-time in their business at the time of application. However, applicants should have an end-goal to be full-time in their venture in the next 1-2 years and be located within our region (Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska). The majority of Pipeline Pathfinder programming will be held in-person during the course of their fellowship year.
With programs to boost entrepreneurs already under way, the next step is getting the word out about Pipeline’s success, said Vincent.
“One of the things that we have in abundance at Pipeline is access to amazing stories of the entrepreneurs that we serve and the impact that they are having across our region,” she said. “We knew that we needed to do a better job in telling those stories and telling our story of why we are so passionate about growing the resources and support for entrepreneurs in the Midwest in a way that was compelling and real.”
In his short tenure in the professional world, Shaffer has worked in the marketing departments of companies like Trndsttrs Media, which represents such big names as Nike and McDonalds, as well as the tech company Loop, giving him an inside look into the inner workings of startup life.
“My goal with this position is to tell Pipeline’s story through quality content,” Shaffer said. “Pipeline is a business that is pushing entrepreneurs into another level of excellence. These are stories that need to be highlighted not just for the sake of marketing and numbers, but for the impact that will transpire years down the line.”
Shaffer will be working alongside Joshua I. Lewis, one of Pipeline’s 2022 fellows and founder of UpDown Nightlife, who will be acting as a strategic marketing advisor throughout this process. The two have already begun formulating a comprehensive plan for the redirection of Pipeline’s marketing via social media and other platforms that will include inside peeks into the fellowship classes, events, and community outreach. The Pipeline website will also be getting a makeover from Ontarget Interactive; another connection Shaffer and Lewis are bringing along for the revamp.
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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.