Alumni Spotlight – Dynasti Hunt, EMBA ’13

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If you search the dictionary for go-getter, you’ll see the definition “a person who works very hard and who wants very much to succeed.” You may also see a picture of Dynasti Hunt (EMBA ’13).

Hunt describes herself as a strategic thought partner who believes in finding innovative solutions to fit the needs of all employees, while maintaining a focus on the mission, vision and values of an organization. She has applied this philosophy throughout each step of her career.

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E-Scholars gain direct route to Sandbox funding, support

Three promising entrepreneurs from UMKC’s E-Scholars program have secured funding support through a partnership between the program and the Digital Sandbox KC. The partnership gives E-Scholars participants a direct route to resources of the Sandbox.

The companies, all based in the Kansas City area, address three unique challenges through innovative technologies.

  • Mag-Vest is the first magnetic tool vest that lets people carry their tools, screws, nuts and bolts from any working position. Unlike other solutions that have limited compartments or simply get in the way in tight spaces, Mag-Vest(TM) gives complete freedom to move and place tools in any manner. “I am honored, humbled and grateful that Digital Sandbox KC chose to support Mag-Vest(TM) with this incredibly generous grant,” said Grant Miner, inventor/founder.
  • Mobility Designed creates mobility devices to improve quality of life for those with mobility challenges. Their first product, the M+D™ Crutch, solves the problem of pain and potential damage to armpits, hands and wrists caused by the use of standard crutches. M+D™ Crutches are designed to provide pain free support and a custom ergonomic fit. “We are very excited to have gotten this funding from the Digital Sandbox. It is incredibly rewarding to have an organization like the Sandbox believe in what we are trying to accomplish because it validates all the work we have done,” said Liliana Younger, CEO, Mobility Designed. “This grant will get us so much closer to making our product a reality.”
  • Smart Steps Mobile is an app designed for teens and adults with cognitive disabilities such as autism or Down syndrome. It offers choices related to everyday problems such as a late ride or a lost backpack. Prompts include social skills, safety tips and when to call for help. “I am thrilled to be awarded funds to move Smart Steps forward to the next phase, which is to create a portal for user-created content,” said Cindy Fisher, Ed.D., president and CEO of Smart Steps, LLC. “I am confident this feature will propel Smart Steps forward.”

E-Scholars is an intensive entrepreneurial development program offered through the University of Missouri – Kansas City’s Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

“The mission of The UMKC Entrepreneurship Scholars program is to accelerate the formation of scalable, sustainable ventures and create jobs,” said Jeff Hornsby, Regnier Institute director and Henry W. Bloch/Missouri Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship. “These three entrepreneurs have great concepts. Now, they will get a direct benefit of our partnership with Digital Sandbox and the combined resources we deliver.”

The program is designed to provide promising entrepreneurs with the support and resources needed to launch scalable and sustainable ventures. E-Scholars has helped to launch more than 160 ventures since its first graduating class in 2011, ranging from enterprise software to health care services to consumer products.

Digital Sandbox KC is a proof-of-concept program that significantly and rapidly moves early-stage entrepreneurs from concept to commercialization. It is a unique collaboration among private, public, university/research and philanthropic organizations. Since launching in February 2014, Digital Sandbox has provided project development funding for 52 companies that have collectively raised more than $17M and created more than 180 new Kansas City area jobs.

“This is just the beginning,” said Jeff Shackelford, director, Digital Sandbox KC. “And, it is just one example of how the Digital Sandbox program can partner with existing organizations and institutions to extend our reach. Working with the UMKC E-Scholar program brings more early-stage concepts to the table for funding consideration such as these three new companies. One of our goals is to create more new KC-based companies and jobs. I’m confident these three are off to a good start.”

Changing of the Guard

Photo Credit: Janet Rogers, Strategic Marketing & Communications

Photo Credit: Janet Rogers, Strategic Marketing & Communications

Cary Clark Officially Passes Enactus Torch

In 2005, the Bloch School of Management hired Cary Clark to assume additional duties and assist with the revitalization of the Students in Free Enterprise program.

It needed help. The University of Missouri-Kansas City chapter of the organization was down to one active student – Robin Lewis.

A lot has changed in 10 years, and more is to come.

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Tour the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame

Startland News toured the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame, located within the UMKC Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The hall, which opened in December 2014, aims not only to educate visitors on remarkable Kansas City business people, but also celebrate the area’s entrepreneurial spirit. Read more…

The Entrepreneur Hall of Fame is open to the public weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

KCSourceLink and partners call for new effort to fund startups

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Kansas City has a longstanding gap in an otherwise-solid support structure for entrepreneurship: investment dollars.

KCSourceLink, a program of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Innovation Center, has worked with key partners to craft an action plan to address that gap – and issued a call to action for the community to execute that plan.

“We Create Capital: Financing Startup and Early-Stage Companies in the Kansas City Region” is the title of the research-driven study and plan presented June 1 at a luncheon at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Kauffman Foundation and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce worked with KC SourceLink to create the plan.

Maria Meyers, founder of KCSourceLink, presented the research findings and plan. She said Kansas City trails many other communities in terms of making investment dollars available to entrepreneurs, via loans, private investment and grants. Greater Kansas City is not tapping available federal and state entrepreneurship grants, and trails competing metros in pulling together private investment. The region is lacking in microloans, seed capital and locally-based venture capital firms.

“Folks, we’re leaving a lot of money on the table here,” Meyers told an audience of bankers, educators, public officials and chamber members.

“We’ve been talking about capital for 12 years now, and I truly hope that we can come together and make sure tomorrow does not look exactly like today.”

A complete copy of the report and recommended action steps is available at www.wecreatekc.com.

Meyers said the action steps needed to improve the situation are clear. Kansas City needs to strengthen its funding infrastructure, build the experience needed to pursue federal funding and connect investors with entrepreneurs and with other investors.

“We have an issue here of our community and our investors not being well connected with each other,” Meyers said.

“We Create Capital” sets out four bold actions that, if embraced by the community, can drive significant dollars to support startups.

  • Increase the availability of alternative loan funds from $3 million to $10 million by 2020
  • Increase local, state and federal grant funding to early-stage and R&D focused businesses from $2.6 million to $6 million by 2020
  • Increase seed capital investments from $2.9 million to $10 million per year by 2020
  • Double the number of venture capital investments of $1-10 million in the Kansas City region by 2020

Terry Dunn, chairman of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce; and Matt Condon, “Champion” of the Chamber’s Big 5 entrepreneurship initiative, joined Meyers at the event. They called for individual, corporate and foundation investors to coalesce around the existing Flyover Capital fund, now at $43 million, and to create a new fund with $50 million available for venture capital investment. The plan also calls for recruiting regional offices for at least two venture capital firms headquartered outside of Kansas City.

“I truly believe that June 1, 2015, is a pivot point for our community,” Condon said. Citing successful entrepreneurs from previous generations such as Henry Bloch, Barnett Helzberg, James Stowers and Ewing Kauffman, Condon said the community has been “drinking from the wells” dug by previous generations.

“It is time for us to dig the wells that future generations will drink from.”

The Years Add Up

Retiring accounting professor looks back fondly on 44 years of service.

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We recently sat down with LaVern “Howie” Krueger — Dr. K, as his students affectionately call him — to reminisce about his years at UMKC. Krueger, who joined UMKC in 1970 as an assistant professor, has seen the Bloch School thrive. During his tenure, he’s served as interim chair of the accounting department; been a faculty adviser of Beta Alpha Psi, the university’s premier professional accounting fraternity; and prepared hundreds of students for the certified public accountant licensure exam. Krueger bids farewell to the Bloch School in 2015.

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Remembering Teng-Kee Tan

1951-2015

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Teng-Kee Tan, Ph.D, passed away in the presence of his family at his home in Kingston, Washington. Tan served as Dean of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management from 2009 to 2013. During his tenure, he focused on growth in faculty, secured a new building through private funding and invigorated the school’s brand in the community, region and nation.

Tan had numerous successes while serving at Bloch. He served as a catalyst for the success of the school’s new strategic plan and rebranding as the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. This was the outcome of Tan’s twin pillars philosophy, an approach that successfully linked its for-profit and not-for-profit sectors.

While serving as dean, Tan was instrumental in helping to obtain the largest gift in UMKC history – $32 million from the school’s namesake, Henry W. Bloch, to build the Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Under his leadership, with assistance from a strong and dedicated team of associates, he built and expanded Bloch’s faculty. He championed recruiting faculty with strong teaching, research, and community partnership skills. He also empowered faculty to use entrepreneurial spirit to grow their programs to meet business needs in the community, region and nation.

Tan earned a Bachelor of Commerce at Nanyang University, an M.B.A. at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University in 1988, and his Ph.D. at the Judge Institute of Management at the University of Cambridge in 2005. Before becoming Dean at the Bloch School, Tan served as the Director of the Nanyang Technopreneurship Center at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), in the Republic of Singapore.

In addition to his academic achievements, Tan spent 18 years at multi-national corporations in Asia and North America in senior corporate positions, including leadership roles at Electrolux AB, Sweden, and Sunbeam Corporation (USA). Prior to his university career, Tan was an entrepreneur for nine years, traveling and conducting businesses in Asia, Australia, Europe, South America, Canada and the USA.

Tan was born in Malaysia. He leaves behind his wife, Hai-Mee, and two adult children, Yung-Hern Tan and Sue Tan Toyofuku.

A simple funeral service will be held at the Stone Chapel in Poulsbo, Washington on Thursday afternoon May 14.  In lieu of flowers, friends can send a donation in memory of Dr. Teng-Kee Tan to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network or the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.