Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Spotlight: Kate Spade

Kate Spade is a native Kansas Citian who is now  an award-winning trendsetter known around the world for her fashion.

Starting her fashion career as an accessories editor at Mademoiselle, Spade saw a gap in the market she knew she could fill. She began a line of stylish, practical handbags, and she and her husband Andy launched a company – kate spade – to market the line. The company went on to expand into an acclaimed line that included luggage, shoes, eyewear, stationary and a home collection. Spade has earned awards such as Best Accessories Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 1998 and an Elle Decor International Design Award in 2004.

Following an eight year hiatus, Kate and Andy launched a brand new line of shoes and handbags under the label Frances Valentine in 2015.

At Spade’s induction into the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame, her brother, Earl Brosnahan, shared an early memory of his successful sister.

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Boundless Curiosity Spells Success in Marketing

Photos by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications

Tiffany Tran has found a career through UMKC experience and connections

Tiffany Tran, ’14
Job title:
Marketing strategist, Helzberg Diamonds
Program: Bachelor of Business Administration
School: Henry W. Block School of Management
Hometown: Orange County, California

Tell us about your current position.

At Helzberg Diamonds, I help us understand the market forces that drive bridal jewelry purchases, uncover opportunities to grow the business, nurture key partnerships related to weddings and work to streamline existing tactics for the bridal segment. I get a pretty good mix of being analytical, critical and creative.

Why did you choose UMKC?

I graduated from Liberty High School. I wanted to stay nearby but go into business. I had peers who attended UMKC who recommended the business program, so I thought, “OK, let’s do it!”

My favorite thing was that the classes didn’t seem too big. It still felt personal. They were very small and intimate.


Who was the most influential faculty or staff member at UMKC?

Assistant Professor Jeff Johnson was not only my professor, but also my sponsor when I was an intern at Infegy. He saw me through that entire process before I secured a full-time position. He’s really awesome and very helpful to his students.

Can you tell us more about your internship at Infegy, which then turned into a job?

Infegy is a software company. They aggregate social media data — blogs, forums, Facebook, Twitter, reviews — to help make sense of online and social dialogue. I did a lot of one-on-one client interviews, understanding the market and the landscape. I also created content by showing how amazing the software is so it opens new doors for sales.

Do you have a favorite memory from UMKC?

In college, I wasn’t very good at public speaking. In a class, Dr. Johnson told us how when he started working in the railroad industry, he didn’t speak up enough. His boss told him “if you don’t speak up, you’re never going to advance.”

He conquered that by going to Toastmasters. That’s what led me to joining Toastmasters, and it’s been so great. I learned so much.

What makes you unique?

I’m able to feel someone’s pain if something is bothering them. That helps me a lot in my job. When someone is talking to me one-on-one, I can sense if there’s something more to why they don’t like a particular tool.

Our outstanding alumni are pursuing their passions in Kansas City and beyond. We are delighted to share some of their remarkable stories through our new project, Inspired Beginnings. Great Journeys. Want to be a part of the story? Let us know!

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Andrés Rivera Hurtado: Building a bright future in business


Bachelor of Business Administration with emphasis in Finance & Real Estate, 2014 | Henry W. Bloch School of Management
Title: Senior analyst at Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
Hometown: Overland Park, KS

Can you tell us about your family’s roots in Ecuador?

I was born in Ecuador, but was practically raised in Overland Park, Kan. My father was the first one in both sides of my families to take the risk of starting a life in U.S. He was about 22 years – looking for better jobs and higher-quality education. Being an American citizen means a lot to me because of the sacrifices that both my parents and other family members made to come to this country.

Furthermore, I was fortunate to travel back to Ecuador almost every summer and that has enriched my life by staying in touch with my extended families, learning about my heritage/culture and beautiful travel experiences. I’ve learned a great deal about international business, politics, environment, economies, etc.

I like to think of myself as a third-culture individual, because I bring my Ecuadorian and American Cultures to create my own identity.

Why did you choose UMKC?

One of the top things I was looking for was location. I knew I wanted to stay in Kansas City. Second is the network. I know a lot of business professionals are familiar with UMKC alumni so I knew I was going to be part of a good network.

How did you choose your field of study?

I actually applied to be an architecture student. After the first semester, I realized it wasn’t for me. I decided to focus on business administration with an emphasis in finance and real estate. I chose finance and real estate because they are the backbones of any business, and I wanted to learn how to make the best long-term decisions to impact businesses’ finances and real estate matters.

“Network as much as you can with your peers. Those same peers are going to be the people who start companies or are excelling in their careers.”

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Enactus Team Celebrates National Semi-Finalist Placement

Enactus team advances to national semifinals

The Enactus team from the University of Missouri-Kansas City is seeking a national championship in their entrepreneurial competition during the Enactus United States National Exposition at the Kansas City Convention Center May 21-23.

During the first day of competition, the UMKC team advanced to the national semifinals. We are incredibly proud of the team for placing as one of the top 16 entrepreneurial groups in the country. The team qualified for the national competition in April by winning the regional competition in Garden Grove, California. This is the fifth consecutive year the team has qualified for the national competition; UMKC was a national semifinalist in 2016, matching their 2017 performance.

Enactus is a global organization for college students who volunteer to develop projects that create positive change through entrepreneurial action. Students describe their projects in multi-media presentations for the competition. The winner of the competition will qualify for the international competition in London this September.

More than 2,000 students, representing more than 100 U.S. colleges, are expected at the Kansas City expo.

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Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Spotlight: Tom McDonnell

In the late 1960s, Kansas City Southern Industries thought that computer data processing might have some legs – and Tom McDonnell had the entrepreneurial drive and innovative thinking to seize the opportunity.

A recent business school graduate at the time, McDonnell led a team of three Kansas City Southern employees who were charged with a potential spinoff venture dubbed DST. He moved quickly to beat out competitors who were larger and better-funded but slower and less-agile. McDonnell invested in the technology to create the first online, real-time mutual fund accounting system. He made up for the company’s small size by using partnerships and joint ventures to magnify their reach, and eventually dominate the industry. Under Tom McDonnell’s stewardship, DST grew to become America’s largest mutual fund servicing firm, a publicly traded company that employs more than 14,000 associates.

Another of McDonnell’s entrepreneurial strengths is an unwavering commitment to good corporate citizenship. He is usually the behind-the-scenes guiding figure, but his footprints are all over Kansas City, from business parks to nonprofits and arts organizations.

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Bloch Scholar Remembers Time at Bloch, Looks toward the Future

Photo by Brandon Parigo, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

As Stephanie Montoya (B.B.A. ’17), prepared to accept her diploma, she reflected on her time as a student striving to achieve her dreams.

“That was the best advice I received as a student,” Montoya said. “To look toward the end goal when in search of motivation.”

Montoya is a member of Bloch Scholars, a program powered by the H&R Block Foundation that provides students an opportunity to earn an associate’s degree, then continue their bachelor’s degree at UMKC. The scholarship awardees receive funds to cover tuition for up to six semesters, a personal coach and encouragement to work towards their dreams.

Before her commencement ceremony, we caught up with Montoya to discuss how Bloch Scholars impacted her education, her memories of the Bloch School and her future plans.

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Bloch Students Win Local CFA Institute Research Challenge

Photo courtesy of Laurian Lytle

A five-student team representing the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City won the local CFA Institute Research Challenge sponsored by the Kansas City chapter of the CFA Institute, an organization of investment professionals.

Team members included Ryan Moazamian, MBA candidate; Hannah Gambrell, MBA candidate; Kyle Harris, MBA candidate; Matthew Hanson, Master of Science in Finance candidate; and Charlotte Gilman, MBA candidate.

“The CFA Institute Research Challenge is by far the best extra-curricular activity I have participated in during my time at UMKC,” Moazamian said. “It’s a tremendous undertaking that provides an extensive amount of both academic and experiential knowledge, both critical when considering a career in finance. The benefits from participating in the research challenge extend into professional development as well, providing opportunities to create key relationships with industry and financial experts, as well as significantly contributing to anyone’s resume.”

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Grace Under Pressure

Photo by Brandon Parigo, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

By Grace Designs wins high-stakes Regnier Venture Creation Challenge

Emily Moon and Kelsey Carlstedt sell handmade women’s clothing online. But the way they see it, they are really in the business of hope.

Their company, By Grace Designs, is a not-for-profit organization. They work with women in Ghana and India in a business they see as a mission to educate, employ, empower and elevate women living in poverty.

On May 5, they stood before a panel of judges – all experienced entrepreneurs – at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and made their case for seed funding. Their winning presentation and business plan earned them the top prize of $20,000 in the 2017 Regnier Venture Creation Challenge.

In Ghana, according to their website, they “employ local seamstresses to educate younger artisans. Each student is given a new sewing machine and the necessary materials to become an expert in her craft. We then employ both the master seamstresses and the newer craftswomen to sew our original line,” using fabrics purchased from local markets.

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UMKC Enactus Advances to National Competition

The UMKC Enactus team continues its tradition of success. The team took top prize at the regional competition in Garden Grove, CA on April 24, qualifying them to compete at the United States National Exposition. For the first time, the national competition is being held right here in Kansas City from May 21-23 at the Kansas City Convention Center.

“We’re thrilled to compete at the national level, but even more excited that we get to do so in our hometown of Kansas City,” said Ben Williams, Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Assistant Director and Enactus Advisor.

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Summer Scholars Taking Applications for Summer 2017 Class

The Summer Scholars Class of 2016

The Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is accepting applications for the 2017 class of Summer Scholars.

Open to all incoming University of Missouri-Kansas City freshmen, sophomores and transfer students, Summer Scholars is a two-week intensive course that prepares participants for their entrepreneurial path. The first half of the course introduces students to entrepreneurial processes, theories and resources, while the second half focuses on venture creation, culminating in a pitch contest.

“This is an opportunity for students to get involved in entrepreneurship and innovation early in their college careers. Whether you are majoring in business, art, engineering, or education, an innovative mindset will help you build value in your career,” said Ben Williams, Regnier Institute Assistant Director. “This is the perfect opportunity to take a fun, fast-paced course, to engage with other high-quality students and to jump start your college career. The fact that everyone is eligible for a scholarship makes it a no-brainer.”

Participants in the Summer Scholars program will receive three credit hours which count toward the Introduction to Entrepreneurship course requirement. Each student is eligible to apply for a scholarship up to the cost of the course.

For frequently asked questions, a program schedule, or to apply, visit bit.ly/regniersummerscholars.

To hear about the experience in the words of program graduates, watch this video.