Entrepreneurship Week Celebrates Fearlessness

The Bloch School and Regnier Institute celebrated the Second Annual Henry Bloch Entrepreneurship Week Nov. 16-20. A series of events open to UMKC students and community showcased some of Kansas City’s most prominent business leaders, and how they learned to lead fearlessly.

The week kicked off with the 30th Annual Entrepreneur of the Year Awards on Nov. 16. Held in the Kansas City Convention Center Grand Ballroom, the evening celebrated the strides made in entrepreneurship over the last 30 years, in Kansas City and beyond. Jaspreet Singh (B.B.A.) was named Student Entrepreneur of the Year, while Gary White, CEO and Co-founder of Water.org, received the Marion and John Kreamer Award for Social Entrepreneurship and Danny O’Neill, Bean Baron of the Roasterie, was named Regional Entrepreneur of the Year.

Fresh off the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, O’Neill stopped by the Bloch School on Tuesday, Nov. 17 to talk about how he turned his passion for coffee into a must-have Kansas City addiction. O’Neill discussed the beginnings of his venture, and provided advice for those looking to follow in his footsteps.

“To be fearless means you’re willing to accept chaos.” This sentiment from Mike Wilson (MBA ’06), Co-founder and CEO of Niall Luxury Watches, is just one insight from Fearless Founders Under 40, held Wednesday, Nov. 18. Moderated by Bloch entrepreneurship student Zach Pettet (B.B.A.), Zach Allen, Regional Vice President of Chosen Payments, Brittain Kovac (E-Scholar ’14), Chief Nomad at Hostel KC, Grant Gooding (B.B.A. ’05, MBA ’06), Brand Strategist and CEO of Proof Positioning and Wilson came together to share with students and community how they’ve overcome their worries while launching their organizations.

Area women are experiencing unbelievable momentum in the entrepreneurship, startup and innovation space. Michelle Markey, Vice President of Kauffman FastTrac, led a panel of accomplished female entrepreneurs on Thursday, Nov. 19. Panelists included Diana Hess, Co-founder of Enduralock, Jill Minton, founder of tLoft Café, Kelly Pruneau, Network Manager of Women’s Capital Connection and Joni Cobb, President and CEO of Pipeline Entrepreneurs. The panel, co-hosted by the Junior League of Kansas City Missouri, focused specifically on females in diverse industries. When asked about how to find success in the cutthroat entrepreneurial arena, Minton kept with the theme of fearlessness by explaining one must not be “scared to tackle the beast.”

Wrapping up the week was the Arts and Entrepreneurship Showcase, led by UMKC Enactus. This event turned Bloch Executive Hall into a gallery space, allowing local artists to showcase their art while having an opportunity to advance their career. Art was available for viewing throughout Henry Bloch Entrepreneurship Week, and the event culminated on Friday, Nov. 20 with teams sharing their displays as options to gift to government officials, business delegations and other international groups visiting Kansas City. Taking first place and a $1,200 cash prize was Jan Fellers with her gicleè prints of notable Kansas City figures.

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