The 2023 edition of the Pipeline Entrepreneurs Annual Innovation Gala honored a slate of innovators and inspirational forces from across the region, hailing the growth of entrepreneurship in the heartland — and a handful of top award winners.
Melissa Vincent, executive director of Pipeline Entrepreneurs, credited the fellows with fostering a now-thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.
“It is through [our members’] hard work and dedication to staying in the Midwest that has taken what was once an entrepreneurial desert, and turned it into a thriving and ever-evolving ecosystem these last 16 years,” Vincent said.
The 2022 Pathfinder cohort marked the inaugural graduating class of the program, which was developed in 2021 as an entryway into the elite fellowship for often-overlooked founders who have not yet made the jump to full-time work with their startups.
During the program — which was held at Hotel Kansas City on Thursday evening — the 2023 Fellows and Pathfinders were introduced, and five awards were presented. Two Kansas City entrepreneurs took home hardware.
Awards and awardees from the gala included:
The Pipeline Innovator of the Year award is the award given to the fellow with the best showing in these three components: performance during the Pipeline Fellowship year, scores for their completed business plans, and their presentation score during the Innovators Daytime Pitch Showcase.
Pipeline Members continue to work with the Pipeline organization, and each other, as they grow and scale their businesses. This award recognizes a Pipeline Member for a particularly strong demonstration of growth, be it revenue, capital raised, creation of high-salaried jobs, new ventures or innovation.
Pipeline Members know that Pipeline is a never-ending, long-term community of entrepreneurial leaders. They help each other — and the organization — as members all grow toward their goals. This award recognizes outstanding contributions by a Pipeline Member to the organization and the many peers within it.
The Pipeline Resilience Award is among the newest awards and is awarded to an entrepreneur who exemplifies what it means to be an entrepreneur through and through. To show resilience and strength against all odds and continue to keep building and give back to the community and the membership.
Check out a photo gallery from the Pipeline’s rooftop reception and gala below.