Bloch alumnus Andy Kallenbach (B.B.A. ’11) comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. His mother’s family has owned one of the largest auto recycling centers in the nation since the 1960s. His grandfather, a pharmacist by trade, owned several pharmacies.“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit,” Kallenbach said. “When I was 12 I would drag a mower five miles to make $20.”
An IT professional by trade, Kallenbach used his propensity for innovation working at a commercial insurance firm, where he developed technical solutions to streamline inefficient paper processes.
After leaving Insurance to start a technology consulting firm, something caught Kallenbach’s attention. He noticed that one of his well-known fast food clients was struggling with massive amounts of employee paperwork due to the nature of the retail business (high turnover, lots of new hires).“I thought, there has to be a better way to do this,” Kallenbach said. He looked into paperless solutions at the time, but the cost was extremely prohibitive – tens of thousands of dollars.
Thus the seed was planted. Kallenbach had an idea, but realized that while he had plenty of tech savvy, he lacked business savvy. So he enrolled at the UMKC Bloch School with an emphasis entrepreneurship.
When he saw a poster calling for applicants for a new program at Bloch called Entrepreneurship Scholars (E-Scholars), Kallenbach thought it might be just what he needed to launch his venture.
“I went in and pitched my idea to E-Scholars Program Director Beverly Stewart,” Kallenbach explained. “And then I had to get it past more staff, faculty and program advisors, including Tom Bloch.”
Ultimately, Kallenbach became one of the first class of E-Scholars in 2010, where, he said, he learned the business side of launching a venture. “The mentorship we got in the E-Scholars program was great,” Kallenbach said. “The program connected me with a lot of smart people who have already ‘been there, done that’” he said.
Currently, FormZapper is an internet-based product focused on two markets: Human Resources within organizations (i.e., employee paperwork) and doctor’s offices – in both markets, FormZapper is able to eliminate wasteful hard copy paperwork and save time by allowing parties (applicants, patients) to do everything online ahead of time and have it securely delivered to the recipient.
However, Kallenbach says thanks to the connections he made during the EScholars program, he is now piloting a customized program for the City of Kansas City, Missouri to help the city become more efficient with paperwork.
In addition to the Bloch School’s E-Scholars program, Kallenbach recently took advantage of something else Kansas City has to offer: Google Fiber.
In 2012, a small area west of Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza became the first to get Google Fiber, which provides Internet speeds 100 times faster than regular broadband.
As a “dot.com,” Kallenbach quickly added FormZapper to a group of young startups that make up the KC Startup Village, which includes approximately a dozen young companies that have set up shop inside houses and buildings near 45th Avenue and State Line Road in Kansas City, Kansas.
Startups are drawn to the Hanover Heights and Spring Valley neighborhoods partly to access Google’s new network.
Kallenbach has taken up residence with several other startups (including Local Ruckus, Rivet Creative and Leap 2) at 4454 State Line Road – the very first house, in fact, to be hooked up with Google Fiber.
Kallenbach says there are other startups in the area taking advantage of the internet speed. In fact, although nothing is concrete, Kallenbach alluded to the fact there is an investor interested in purchasing multiple houses in the area so that the Kansas City Startup Village can grow much larger.
“I really want to not only be a part of the startup community, particularly tech startups, I want to become involved enough to really help Kansas City become a leader in tech startups,” Kallenbach said. “Kansas City has all the right pieces.”