UMKC Student Entrepreneur Led Team to the Top at Startup Weekend 2017

Tin Ho (fourth from left) and his Startup Weekend teammates

Tin Ho, the 2016 UMKC Student Entrepreneur of the Year, continues to make great strides in his entrepreneurial journey as he led his team to win 1st Place and Crowd Favorite at Startup Weekend 2017.

Startup Weekend is an event where participants have a weekend to concept a new startup. In 54 hours, startup weekenders immerse in the fast-paced and high-pressure, yet fun and rewarding, experience of entrepreneurship.

“I thought starting and trying to finish a class project 3 days before it’s due is intense, but it can’t possibly compare to the nerve-wracking 3 days of Startup Weekend,” Ho said. “Starting a business from scratch is already extremely hard, and we had to pack it into 54 hours.”

What was your first impression of your first Startup Weekend?

At the beginning, I felt a little out of place because I was the only non-technical person in my team; everyone else was either an electrical engineer, a software developer, a user experience designer, or, you’d never guess it, a molecular biologist.

Since our team members had such diverse backgrounds, we had a hard time defining the one idea we all wanted to work on. Despite heated discussions, we left the first day without knowing what we were going to build over the next two days.

When the team came back the next day, I proposed we use the Business Model Canvas to systematically collect everyone’s thoughts and pinpoint the idea to pursue over the weekend. With a clear structure to guide our discussion, we were finally able to define our weekend project.

Continue reading

Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Spotlight: Kate Spade

Kate Spade is a native Kansas Citian who is now  an award-winning trendsetter known around the world for her fashion.

Starting her fashion career as an accessories editor at Mademoiselle, Spade saw a gap in the market she knew she could fill. She began a line of stylish, practical handbags, and she and her husband Andy launched a company – kate spade – to market the line. The company went on to expand into an acclaimed line that included luggage, shoes, eyewear, stationary and a home collection. Spade has earned awards such as Best Accessories Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 1998 and an Elle Decor International Design Award in 2004.

Following an eight year hiatus, Kate and Andy launched a brand new line of shoes and handbags under the label Frances Valentine in 2015.

At Spade’s induction into the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame, her brother, Earl Brosnahan, shared an early memory of his successful sister.

Continue reading

Boundless Curiosity Spells Success in Marketing

Photos by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications

Tiffany Tran has found a career through UMKC experience and connections

Tiffany Tran, ’14
Job title:
Marketing strategist, Helzberg Diamonds
Program: Bachelor of Business Administration
School: Henry W. Block School of Management
Hometown: Orange County, California

Tell us about your current position.

At Helzberg Diamonds, I help us understand the market forces that drive bridal jewelry purchases, uncover opportunities to grow the business, nurture key partnerships related to weddings and work to streamline existing tactics for the bridal segment. I get a pretty good mix of being analytical, critical and creative.

Why did you choose UMKC?

I graduated from Liberty High School. I wanted to stay nearby but go into business. I had peers who attended UMKC who recommended the business program, so I thought, “OK, let’s do it!”

My favorite thing was that the classes didn’t seem too big. It still felt personal. They were very small and intimate.


Who was the most influential faculty or staff member at UMKC?

Assistant Professor Jeff Johnson was not only my professor, but also my sponsor when I was an intern at Infegy. He saw me through that entire process before I secured a full-time position. He’s really awesome and very helpful to his students.

Can you tell us more about your internship at Infegy, which then turned into a job?

Infegy is a software company. They aggregate social media data — blogs, forums, Facebook, Twitter, reviews — to help make sense of online and social dialogue. I did a lot of one-on-one client interviews, understanding the market and the landscape. I also created content by showing how amazing the software is so it opens new doors for sales.

Do you have a favorite memory from UMKC?

In college, I wasn’t very good at public speaking. In a class, Dr. Johnson told us how when he started working in the railroad industry, he didn’t speak up enough. His boss told him “if you don’t speak up, you’re never going to advance.”

He conquered that by going to Toastmasters. That’s what led me to joining Toastmasters, and it’s been so great. I learned so much.

What makes you unique?

I’m able to feel someone’s pain if something is bothering them. That helps me a lot in my job. When someone is talking to me one-on-one, I can sense if there’s something more to why they don’t like a particular tool.

Our outstanding alumni are pursuing their passions in Kansas City and beyond. We are delighted to share some of their remarkable stories through our new project, Inspired Beginnings. Great Journeys. Want to be a part of the story? Let us know!

>Read more stories

>Connect with UMKC Alumni

Continue reading

Andrés Rivera Hurtado: Building a bright future in business


Bachelor of Business Administration with emphasis in Finance & Real Estate, 2014 | Henry W. Bloch School of Management
Title: Senior analyst at Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
Hometown: Overland Park, KS

Can you tell us about your family’s roots in Ecuador?

I was born in Ecuador, but was practically raised in Overland Park, Kan. My father was the first one in both sides of my families to take the risk of starting a life in U.S. He was about 22 years – looking for better jobs and higher-quality education. Being an American citizen means a lot to me because of the sacrifices that both my parents and other family members made to come to this country.

Furthermore, I was fortunate to travel back to Ecuador almost every summer and that has enriched my life by staying in touch with my extended families, learning about my heritage/culture and beautiful travel experiences. I’ve learned a great deal about international business, politics, environment, economies, etc.

I like to think of myself as a third-culture individual, because I bring my Ecuadorian and American Cultures to create my own identity.

Why did you choose UMKC?

One of the top things I was looking for was location. I knew I wanted to stay in Kansas City. Second is the network. I know a lot of business professionals are familiar with UMKC alumni so I knew I was going to be part of a good network.

How did you choose your field of study?

I actually applied to be an architecture student. After the first semester, I realized it wasn’t for me. I decided to focus on business administration with an emphasis in finance and real estate. I chose finance and real estate because they are the backbones of any business, and I wanted to learn how to make the best long-term decisions to impact businesses’ finances and real estate matters.

“Network as much as you can with your peers. Those same peers are going to be the people who start companies or are excelling in their careers.”

Continue reading