Gaining National Recognition

Raul Villegas and his sister Miriam Villegas, El Padrino Soccer

Two UMKC Innovation Center Programs Cited in SBA Annual Report

How do small businesses continue to grow? Often with the assistance of programs like the UMKC Small Business & Technology Development Center (SBTDC) and ScaleUP! Kansas City.

The two programs, sponsored by the University of Missouri-Kansas City, were recently recognized in the U.S. Small Business Administration Annual Report for their support and guidance to small businesses moving out of the start-up phase. Both are partner programs under the umbrella of the UMKC Innovation Center.

“Our business is your business:” UMKC Small Business & Technology Development Center

Becoming an entrepreneur and growing a business is hard work. Everyone needs help from time to time. The SBTDC program gives the personal attention needed to launch technology ventures and grow developing businesses. Most important, the insight is based on research, data and years of experience helping entrepreneurs and business owners succeed.

UMKC has sponsored the Missouri SBDC program since December 2002.  By 2007 the statewide SBDC program received the technology development accreditation from the SBA to become the SBTDC. Today, UMKC’s SBTDC assists over 300 clients each year providing access to expertise through one-on-one business counseling and coaching, networking and resource opportunities, and education programs covering a wide range of issues that face entrepreneurs and business owners at each phase of business.

Specializing in technology development and commercialization, the SBTDC at UMKC works extensively with technology-based, innovation-led businesses and university researchers offering the necessary tools, training and coaching to help launch and grow technology ventures.

The SBTDC is responsible for tracking and maintaining the economic statistics sent to the SBA.   In the SBA’s 2015 Annual Report, UMKC’s SBTDC clients reported 63 business starts, 425 new jobs, $44,110,965 increased sales, and $41,938,904 in loans and equity including Phase I, II, III SBIR/STTR awards and commercialization grants.

“Our business is your business,” says Carmen DeHart, UMKC Innovation Center outreach program director and regional director at UMKC SBTDC. “The experienced and dedicated staff at UMKC SBTDC is passionate about the work they do and have a proven track record in giving sound advice, training and tools for developing businesses and technology ventures.”

“Growing our own:” ScaleUP! Kansas City

The ScaleUP!KC program is highlighted with a vignette on El Padrino Soccer in Kansas City, Kan., a soccer apparel store founded by Raul Villegas and his sister Miriam Villegas in 2007. Raul is a graduate of the program’s inaugural class.

ScaleUP! KC spends four months immersing 12 to 15 selected entrepreneurs in courses and ‘collisions’ that connect them with a high caliber network of peers, resources and mentors, all of which can positively impact the trajectory of their businesses.

ScaleUP! KC was one of the first eight programs funded through ScaleUp America, the SBA’s Office of Entrepreneurial Development’s newest initiative, which assists with the transition of businesses from the fledgling start-up phase into more stable organizations that create jobs and are positioned for future growth and success.

“The cornerstones of ScaleUP! KC are FastTrac® Listening to Your Business™ and FastTrac® Growth Venture™, proven energizers for businesses poised for growth. Courses are supplemented with Kauffman Founders School, peer-to-peer round tables and ‘collision’ sessions that unite you with subject matter experts,” said Maria Meyers, executive director, UMKC Innovation Center. “The most meaningful part of ScaleUP! is in the lifelong connections you’ll make with your peer cohort – other entrepreneurs who face similar challenges to yours.”

In order to participate in ScaleUP! KC, individuals must lead a company that has been in business for at least two years; generate annual sales in excess of $150,000; have a strong market that can generate more than $1 million in sales; and strive to drive your business to greater heights.

“ScaleUP! gives KC’s homegrown businesses the coaching, confidence and community they need to reach the next level,” said Jill Meyer, program director. “This program is yet another example of how we are helping grow the businesses in our own backyard—those businesses that define our city’s character, create jobs and economic mobility and, really, change lives. We want to help them find their path to success and sustainability.”

In addition to Villegas, five other graduates of ScaleUP! KC grace the cover of the ScaleUp America section in the annual report. They are Ron Michka, The Creative Department, Inc., Kansas City, Mo.; Bonita D. Powell, The Brass Pinnacle Group, Kansas City, Mo.; Ryan Wing, The Sundry, Kansas City, Mo.; Shauna Huntington, Fortiviti, LLC, Lenexa, Kan; and Thalia Cherry, Cherry, Kansas City, Mo.

ScaleUP! Kansas City selects 12 to 15 entrepreneurs through a bi-annual competitive application process. Applications for Cohort 5 are now open! You can apply here to be considered for acceptance into ScaleUP! KC and drive your business to even greater heights.


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