Bill Zahner Opens First Wednesdays Featuring Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Inductees

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“To be successful in business, you need to have passion in what you do.” On Wednesday, September 3, Bill Zahner gave this advice to over 200 UMKC students, alumni and supporters as part of the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s First Wednesday series. Zahner embodies this advice, as his passion led him to head one of the foremost metal work companies in the world.

In his presentation “How One Entrepreneur Turned Metal Into Art,” Zahner explained how the organization has stayed relevant and innovative with changing faces of architecture and technology. Further, he described how A. Zahner Company is always working to exceed customer expectations, turning buildings into pieces of art.

Some of A. Zahner Company’s most notable projects include The Art Gallery of Alberta in Alberta, Canada, the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina and the September 11 Museum in New York City, New York.

“We always keep pushing to exceed customer expectations,” Zahner said at Wednesday’s presentation. “Our people want to be proud of what they do. That’s exactly what you want to instill in a company.”

This is the third year of the Regnier Institute’s First Wednesdays programming, where in addition to student updates, a local entrepreneur discusses their entrepreneurial path to give Bloch students a fresh perspective of what it’s like to grow a business from the beginning. With the recent launch of the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame, the Regnier Institute saw a natural cohesion and a chance to connect students with high caliber business professionals.

“Allowing students to not only hear from a successful entrepreneur, but to actually interact with them, is an amazing opportunity,” said Ben Williams, Assistant Director of the Regnier Institute.

Zahner’s presentation of the first of three that will come from inaugural members of the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame opened to the public in December 2014, and is designed to inspire students and community by giving them an inside look at the journeys of some of Kansas most well-known entrepreneurs.

Hall of Fame inductees Terry Van Der Tuuk of Graphic Technology, Inc. and Dan Lowe of RED Legacy will helm the events on October 7 and November 4, respectively. Williams foresees growing excitement as these presentations draw nearer.

“So often, students look at successful entrepreneurs as celebrities that are out of their reach,” Williams said.  “When we have people like Bill Zahner, Terry Van Der Tuuk and Dan Lowe show how they became successful through a process that can be followed, that’s when you see students really get excited.”

To register for upcoming First Wednesdays events, visit

High Achievers and Future Leaders

Team-building exercise at Harvesters; Photo credit: Janet Rogers, Strategic Marketing

Team-building exercise at Harvesters; Photo credit: Janet Rogers, Strategic Marketing

Full-Time MBA Students on Accelerated Path

A call went out for high achievers and future leaders from around the globe to enroll in the one-year Full-Time MBA program at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management.

It was answered.

Twenty-one professionals began the Bloch Intensive Full-Time MBA program on Aug. 3, and received full-tuition scholarships from the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation. The cost per student is approximately $55,000.

Ten women and 11 men are enrolled in the new program. The goal for the program is to eventually enroll 40 to 50 students per year as it becomes better known.

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Alumni Spotlight – Dynasti Hunt, EMBA ’13

dynasti hunt headshot

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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From Military to Business Owner


Opportunity to Transition from Boot Camp to E-Scholars

Sixteen veterans stepped up for a three-day business boot camp at the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation to discuss potential ventures, some of which are already in the works.

The boot camp, Vets2Ventures, was held at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Bloch Executive Hall to provide exposure to an entrepreneurial environment for transitioning veterans. Full scholarships were awarded to each veteran accepted into the program, supported by the Regnier Institute and private sponsors.

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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.