Regnier Venture Creation Challenge Finalists Receive Startup Funding


Four Teams Win Top Awards

Sixteen of more than 50 teams advanced to the semifinal round of the 2016 Regnier Venture Creation Challenge May 6. Out of that, four teams walked away as the top winners.

Students presented new concepts to local investors, business leaders and entrepreneurs while competing for up to $40,000 in total awards and seed funding. After hearing from each semifinalist group, four teams were selected to compete for the top prize.

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UMKC Bloch Team Takes 2nd at UMSL Case Competition

UMSL 2016 IB Case - Team AA team of four Bloch School undergraduate students took second place at The University of Missouri – Saint Louis (UMSL) International Business Case Competition in April. Each year’s case is developed by a different multinational company exploring solutions to an existing international business challenge. The competition is judged by executives from company that wrote the case, along with other business executives in the community.

The Bloch team, comprised of Amanda Cook (B.S.A.), Thomas Flanagan (B.B.A., B.S.A.), Claire Hansel (B.S.A.) and JoAnna Muenks (B.B.A., B.S.A.), accompanied by faculty team advisor Michael Wizniak (MBA ’14),  was assigned case that required researching and developing an entry strategy into Cuba for Enterprise Holdings Inc. Having no prior knowledge of the case details, teams were given 20 hours to develop a strategy, without assistance from their advisor, before presenting their recommendations to a panel of executives.

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Sixteen Semifinalists Move to Final Round of Venture Creation Challenge

Centered Spirit was one of 16 semi-finalists who will move to the final round of competition Friday, May 6.

Centered Spirit was one of 16 semi-finalists who will move to the final round of competition Friday, May 6.

The Regnier Venture Creation Challenge kicked off its annual two-part event Friday, April 29. Each spring, the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management hosts a business plan competition in which students can present new concepts to local investors, business leaders and entrepreneurs. A total of $40,000 will be awarded with the first place team receiving $10,000.

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Four Awards Honored Bloch School Alumni


Julie Wilson won the Bill French Service Award at the Alumni Award Luncheon April 21

Alex Garza started with a laugh and ended in tears.

Garza, a physician and Associate Dean for Public Health Practice and Professor of Epidemiology at Saint Louis University, was standing on stage at Swinney Recreation Center, accepting the Alumnus of the Year Award from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

“UMKC holds a special place in my heart,” said Garza, a 1990 graduate of the UMKC School of Biological Sciences. “It’s not just the place where I received a great education, but also the place where I matured as a person and set me on course for everything that followed.”

Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association Governing Board and the campus recognize outstanding alumni at a luncheon event that also serves to raise funds for student scholarships.

Garza was one of 16 individuals and one family honored at the event, one of the university’s largest. In the last eight years, the Alumni Awards event has garnered more than $900,000 for student scholarships and immediate aid. This year’s luncheon attracted more than 500 attendees and brought in more than $120,000 in student scholarship support.

UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton and Raymond Cattaneo, president of the UMKC Alumni Association Governing Board, alluded to the importance of student aid during their opening remarks.

“Imagine having to choose among paying for school, utilities or food,” Morton said, citing the story of one student who could not have remained in school without aid funded by the program.

Urging the guests to donate, Cattaneo added, “Let’s make sure that our students get the opportunities they deserve.”

Following are the 2016 UMKC Alumni Awardees with a degree from the Bloch School:

Bill French Alumni Service Award: Julia M. Wilson (’84 Management)
Teamwork is a value Julie Wilson wields daily in her role as Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer at Cerner Corp. That central focus characterized her time as a UMKC athlete and describes the volunteerism and dedication Wilson has shown to UMKC and, specifically, to UMKC athletics. Following an exciting basketball career including two NAIA Honorable Mention All-American selections and three NAIA All-District 16 selections and the NAIA Frank L. Hesselroth Award, Wilson became a central supporter of the UMKC Athletics program.

Defying the Odds Award: Judy G. Jacobs (’77 Management, ‘86 Education)
After Germany occupied Hungary in 1944, Judy Jacobs and her family were placed in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp when she was 7 years old. She lost many loved ones in the gas chambers of Auschwitz. When she and her parents were freed, she was sent off – young, alone and scared – to boarding school while her parents attempted to rebuild their lives. In 1946, Jacobs and her family moved to the United States. Despite everything they had experienced, her parents passed on their belief in the importance of education and Jacobs went on to college. Jacobs came to UMKC to earn her MBA and a Ph.D. in higher education administration and finance, and completed her degrees while working and raising a family. Today, Jacobs utilizes her education and her experiences during World War II to teach others about the Holocaust and makes every possible effort to accept all the speaking engagements she can.

Legacy Award: The Armacost Family
The Armacost family’s Kangaroo tradition began with the University of Kansas City (UKC), the predecessor to the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Lucille Cahill Armacost graduated from UKC in 1938 and her husband, the late Don R. Armacost, Sr., former owner of Peterson Manufacturing Company, graduated in 1940. Their son, Don R. Armacost, Jr., CEO of Peterson Manufacturing Co., graduated from the Henry W. Bloch School of Management in 1968 and received that school’s 1990 Alumni Achievement Award. Other graduates from the Armacost family include Jarrett Bertoncin (B.A. ’94, M.F.A. ’96, Arts & Sciences), who is an active member of the College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Board and current board president. In 2010, Lucille Armacost created the Don & Lucille Armacost Scholarship, one of the largest and most prestigious scholarships at UMKC.


Bloch School of Management Award
Doug Baker (M.B.A. ’95)
Doug Baker is Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Discovery Networks International, the world’s no. 1 nonfiction media company reaching 2 billion subscribers in 220 nations.



KCSourceLink Report Describes State of Entrepreneurship in Kansas City

KC SourcelinkPublished on April 25, 2016
‘We Create KC’ report cites progress in several areas
KCSourceLink today released its third We Create KC report, which looks at progress in key areas central to supporting entrepreneurs and business growth in the region. Last year, KCSourceLink, a network of 240+ business-building resources, made more than 155,000 connections to help entrepreneurs and small business owners find the help they need to start and grow.

“At KCSourceLink we are committed to supporting the entrepreneurial community—the pioneers, champions and heroes who’ve gotten us to this point. And we’re also committed to tracking the numbers to measure our progress,” said Maria Meyers, founder of KCSourceLink and head of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Innovation Center, of which KCSourceLink is a part.

The good news: Kansas City is making progress in terms of access to capital for entrepreneurs, the idea pipeline and resources to support startup growth.

The full report can be downloaded at

Access to Capital

Capital for early-stage entrepreneurs and education for both investors and entrepreneurs has been a focus for development. In the past year:

OneKC for Women launched a new WE-Lend microloan program.
AltCap announced new funds available for contractors and artists.
The Microloan Coalition was formed to bring additional dollars to Kansas City area microenterprises.
LaunchKC and Digital Sandbox KC provided grants for early-stage businesses.
Mid-America Angels and Women’s Capital Connection had their largest year ever in investments.
Northland Angel Investor Network got off the ground and iiM focused its funding on human and animal health and agriculture.
The Collective and a re-formed Angel Capital Group are providing more options on the local investment scene.
KC Rise has announced a new fund that will invest side-by-side with other VCs.
Flyover Capital made its first investments.
Out of town funds like Royal Street Ventures, Lewis and Clark Ventures and Dundee Capital have set up shop and invested in regional businesses.
The Idea Pipeline

Moving innovations from universities and research labs into the marketplace is a difficult process. The Whiteboard2Boardroom program has been working hard to improve the innovation pipeline. Launched in 2009 with four partners, that number has expanded to 22. Whiteboard2Boardroom has identified more than 40 projects in the innovation pipeline, from biodiesel to drug development. This is the first time there’s been a clear snapshot of what Kansas City’s innovation pipeline looks like.

Resources to Support Startup and Growth

Kansas City has a strong, interconnected web of resources that support entrepreneurial ventures at all stages and in all industries. During the past year, resource organizations came together to form the Multicultural Business Coalition, designed to better engage diverse business owners with programs and services.

We Create KC

The We Create KC report, produced under an award from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, covers six imperatives that were identified as key areas of development in the region’s quest to nurture entrepreneurship and economic growth. These six imperatives came out of research conducted by several local organizations, and helped focus this particular Big 5 initiative defined by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.

The six areas are:

Maximize entrepreneurial support resources
Tell the story
Create a strong entrepreneurial pipeline of ideas
Build entrepreneurial talent
Dramatically increase available startup and growth capital
Engage the broader corporate community
Stories that typify the success being driven by area entrepreneurs are highlighted, including:

17°73°, a solar-powered solution to charge cellphones in developing countries
blooom, an online platform that helps average Americans manage their 401(k)s
Jazzy B’s, a BBQ fusion food truck that recently opened a restaurant in Lee’s Summit, Missouri
Weave Gotcha Covered, custom drapery and furnishings business with a social entrepreneurship angle

Lamar Hunt, Jr. Connects Sports and Entrepreneurship

Lamar Hunt, Jr. speaking in Bloch Executive Hall on April 6.

Lamar Hunt, Jr. speaking in Bloch Executive Hall on April 6.

The intersection between sports and entrepreneurship is stronger than some may initially think. Lamar Hunt, Jr. made this clear at Bloch Executive Hall April 6.

Speaking as part of First Wednesdays featuring the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Speaker series, Hunt’s presentation focused on the impact his family has had on the landscape of professional sports. Hunt’s father, Lamar Hunt, Sr., was inducted into the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame in 2014.

Hunt gave a brief overview of his family genealogy before detailing the path that led his father on an entrepreneurial journey in sports.

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Enactus Advances to National Competition

enactus 2016

The 2016 Enactus team, pictured with advisers Ben Williams and Cary Clark

UMKC Enactus team took top prize at the regional competition in Chicago March 21, qualifying them to compete in the Enactus National Exposition in St. Louis May 15-17.

“I want to thank everyone that made this accomplishment possible. The support and resources provided by faculty, administration, community supporters, alumni, and our Business Advisory Board are truly astounding,” said Ben Williams, J.D., MBA and Enactus sponsor. “As I talk to other advisors around the country, I am constantly reminded that our team is unique in its support system.”

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Faculty Spotlight – Sharon Simmons, Ph.D.

Simmons_Sharon_BSM_IMG_0005Entrepreneurship has been a part of Sharon Simmons life for as long as she can remember.

Simmons, who joined the Henry W. Bloch School of Management as an assistant professor of Global Entrepreneurship in August 2015, was born and raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Her parents owned and operated a restaurant for 35 years, and Simmons played a key role in the business.

“From the time I was in middle school, I helped out with inventory, balanced the books and basically did my part to keep everything running smoothly,” Simmons said.

Simmons received her J.D. and Masters in Accounting from the University of Virginia, a combination that allowed her to work as a professional services consultant for firms in a variety of industries. In her 10 years with Deloitte and PwC, Simmons had clients in the areas of real estate, manufacturing and retail, among others.

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Bloch Faculty Recognized for Excellence

Each year, UMKC recognizes faculty and staff members who make outstanding contributions to students and the community. Two Bloch faculty will be honored at the 2016 UMKC Celebration of Excellence Thursday, April 26, at 3 p.m. in Pierson Auditorium.

Jeff Johnson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Marketing, receives Chancellor’s Early Career Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Elmer F. Pierson Good Teaching Award in Business

jeff-johnsonThe Chancellor’s Early Career Award for Excellence in Teaching is UMKC’s highest honor for excellence in teaching for an assistant professor, and the Elmer F. Pierson Good Teaching Award is awarded annually to an outstanding teacher. Johnson’s nominations included details on his creation of the Sales Management course. He designed the curriculum for the course, determined its student learning outcomes, selected the textbook and recruited students. As the semesters passed, the course enrollment excelled and this is all due to his outstanding instructional presence in the classroom.


Doranne Hudson, MBA, Associate Teaching Professor and Executive-in-Residence, receives Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching


The Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching is UMKC’s highest honor for excellence for a teaching faculty member who demonstrates sensitivity and adaptability to individual student needs, interests and challenges.

Hudson began at Bloch as Executive-in-Residence in 2004 after a very successful career at the Gillette Company and Hallmark Cards. Her exceptional contribution to teaching at the Bloch School is illustrated by the scores she receives on her student teaching evaluations and awards received to date, including Favorite Faculty Member of the Year by graduating students in 2015, 2011 and 2010 the Elmer F. Pierson Good Teaching Award in 2012.

UMKC Honors Outstanding Alumni

Three Bloch Alumni to be Honored at Awards Luncheon on April 21

Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association Governing Board and the campus recognize outstanding individual alumni, and one family, with top honors. UMKC will celebrate these alumni at a luncheon event on April 21 on the UMKC campus. UMKC’s Alumni Association will highlight recipients’ stories and accomplishments at the luncheon, and honorees will visit classrooms to share their stories with current students.

The annual luncheon is one of the university’s largest events, with proceeds supporting student scholarships. Last year’s luncheon attracted more than 600 attendees and garnered more than $141,000 in student scholarship support. Proceeds from the Alumni Awards event benefit UMKC students through supporting both endowed and immediate student aid.

“We’re proud to showcase these amazing UMKC graduates,” said Raymond Cattaneo, M.D., president of the UMKC Alumni Association Governing Board. “We’re also committed to helping the next generation of Roos reach their potential, which is why this event benefits student aid and scholarships.”

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