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Get to know the entrepreneurs of Pipeline’s first regional class

At its Innovator of The Year gala on Thursday, Pipeline , the Kansas-based immersion program for high-growth entrepreneurs, unveiled the 12 innovators of its 2012 class. Today, we take a closer look at those dozen entrepreneurs, who make up the largest class in Pipeline history and the first of the program’s six classes to include innovators from outside of Kansas’ borders. The bios below were provided by Pipeline. 

For more on Pipeline’s Innovator of The Year event, see the links to our coverage and embedded video at the end of this post.

Mark Allen, Enertech (Wichita) 

Mark Allen is president and founder of Wichita-based Enertech. The company executes APRI RP 1162, CFR 192 and CFR 195 public awareness regulatory compliance programs for natural gas and hazardous liquid pipeline companies. Combining the latest GIS and data management techniques, coupled with a proprietary deployment of a Google Map platform and cutting-edge communication programs, Enertech offers the pipeline industry an accurate and robust means of communication with their stakeholder audiences. Prior to Enertech, Mark headed up Paradigm, which was voted the fastest- growing privately held company in Greater Wichita Metro Area in November 2005 ranked by sales percentage increase from 2002-2004 by the Wichita Business Journal. Mark graduated from Friends University in 1993 with a B.S. in human resources. He and his wife live in Wichita with their seven children.


Pierre Barbeau, Moblico (Kansas City, Mo.)

Pierre Barbeau is co-founder and CEO of Moblico, a Kansas City-based mobile solutions company. Moblico helps businesses harness the power of mobile devices to acquire, retain, transact and support their customers. Pierre’s 20 years of mobile and direct marketing experience has led him and his team to develop a patent-pending technology which delivers instant interactive communications and strengthens long-term, one-to-one business relationships. This mobile CRM and CMS platform offers a full range of tightly integrated, feature-rich services, through mobile web, native smart phone applications and text messaging. Pierre’s experience includes 10 years at Sprint where he helped drive the first camera phone to market in 2001 and was awarded 10 mobile technology related patents. Pierre is a native of Quebec City, Canada, but has called Kansas City home with his wife and four children since 1994.


Nathan Benjamin, PlanetReuse/InvenQuery (Kansas City, Mo.)

Nathan Benjamin (LEED AP) is the principal and founder of PlanetReuse and InvenQuery, both based in the Kansas City area. PlanetReuse is a reclaimed construction material brokerage and consulting firm that helps commercial designers and architects incorporate reclaimed building materials into new projects. InvenQuery is a web-based mobile app inventory system offering a real-time inventory and point-of-sale system tailored for reuse retail and vertical markets. The first of many target markets to use the InvenQuery system is the residential construction reuse center market (e.g. Habitat for Humanity ReStores). Nathan has a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering from the University of Kansas. He is an active presenter on the topic of reclaimed materials at industry conferences nationwide and is well known for his creative, community-minded approach to sustainability. He is a 2010 Alumnus of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Centurions and currently serves on the National Board of the Reuse Alliance. By discovering and sharing a previously unknown palette of materials, Nathan supports innovation and inspires the creative process by connecting the design/ build industry with endless possibilities.

John Carpenter, BastLab LLC (Omaha)

John Carpenter is president of BastLab LLC, an early stage company based in Omaha. BastLab is developing proprietary technology that will cost effectively process bast fiber crops, which have the potential to become a significant, sustainable raw material source. Originally from Omaha, John has more than 20 years of professional experience extending across diverse industries, ranging from specialty chemicals to banking services. The Tunisian Government, BFGoodrich, PayPal and First National Bank of Omaha are several of John’s prior employers to whom he provided analytical or leadership support. Prior to becoming the president of BastLab, he ran his own consulting firm, J Carpenter LLC. John received his BA in International Relations and Government from the University of Notre Dame and his MBA from the University of Michigan.


Miranda Coggins, The Lano Co. (Raymore, Mo.)

Miranda Coggins is the founder and CEO of The Lano Co., a Raymore-based cosmetics company, run and operated with business partner and husband Layne Coggins. The company specializes in developing, manufacturing and distribution of beauty products using medical-grade lanolin and other natural ingredients. After the birth of her first child, Miranda began experimenting with lanolin, an ointment primarily used by new mothers who are nursing, to soothe her chronically chapped lips. Upon feeling relief, Miranda’s entrepreneurial spirit kicked in; through trial and error over her kitchen stovetop, she literally cooked up a lip balm formula. Today, The Lano Co. has distribution throughout the United States, and recently launched in Canada. Selling in more than 5,000 retailers, salons and physician offices nationwide, The Lano Co. is a Certified Women’s Business Enterprise, with $2 million annually in sales.


Justin Graves, Infegy (Kansas City, Mo.)

Justin Graves is founder and CEO of Infegy, a company focusing on consumer research through analysis of natural language on the web. Justin grew up in Gladstone, Mo., developing an interest in computer programming at the early age of 12, thanks to his older brother. He later attended Full Sail University in Orlando, Fla., earning a degree in computer game development, focusing on 3D graphics technology. After graduating, Justin partnered with former classmates and created a technology company which developed high-performance middleware for use in 3D graphics applications and games. This technology was later sold, helping to fund Justin’s future entrepreneurial efforts at Infegy. Just prior to founding Infegy, Justin was a technology research and development architect for VML, a large, WPP-owned digital agency based in Kansas City, Mo.


Blake Lawrence, Hurrdat Social Media (Lincoln)

Blake Lawrence is the founder and CEO of Hurrdat Social Media, based in Lincoln. Hurrdat Social Media is a social media marketing and management company that creates and manages social media pages for businesses and brands, starting with strategy development and social media marketing execution. Hurrdat’s unique athlete engagement platform also connects brands with professional athletes to create social media endorsements. This platform allows brands to shop through professional athletes and buy endorsed tweets in a shopping-cart style format, seamlessly connecting brands with fans of professional athletes from around the world. He was a participant in Gallup’s EAS. Lawrence originally hails from Shawnee Mission, Kan. Lawrence received both his BA and MBA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he attended on a full-ride scholarship and started at linebacker for two years for the Cornhusker football team. He graduated with his BA in 2009 and MBA in 2011.

Matthew MacEwan, NanoMed/Retectix (St. Louis)

Matthew MacEwan is the founder, president and chief scientific officer of NanoMed, LLC and Retectix, LLC located in St. Louis. NanoMed/Retectix is a medical device company focused on the development and production of nanofabricated surgical meshes and biomaterials utilizing novel platform technology developed at Washington University in St. Louis. In his leadership role at NanoMed/Retectix, Matthew is responsible for product development, pre-clinical/clinical testing, regulatory compliance and corporate strategy. Matthew is a member of the Medical Scientist Training Program at Washington University in St. Louis and is pursuing a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and an M.D. with clinical specialization in neurosurgery. Prior to attending Washington University in St. Louis, Matthew graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, with a specialization in polymer biomaterials/biomaterial biocompatibility.

Ben Pankonin, Social Assurance (Lincoln)

Ben Pankonin is the cofounder of Social Assurance, a Lincoln-based software company that enables financial and healthcare companies to securely build relationships with customers, clients and prospects on public social media platforms. Ben is skilled as a marketer, strategist and assists organizations in mitigating risks while leveraging social media as a business tool. Prior to forming Social Assurance, Ben was the director of business development for Five Nines Technology Group. He combined his technical and marketing backgrounds to lead sales and marketing efforts for their hyper growth on the Inc. 500 list of Fastest Growing Companies. As a Cisco and Microsoft partner, he developed security solutions for the enterprise. Ben’s thought leadership in enterprise technology has been featured in publications such as CRN and Midlands Business Journal and he frequently speaks on the use of technology in the enterprise. He participated in Gallup’s EAS. Ben studied business and computer science at Nebraska Wesleyan University, completing his bachelor’s degree.

Brandon Shuey, FlipHound.com (Wichita)

Brandon Shuey is president and CEO of FlipHound.com, a Wichita-based company incorporated in 2012 that facilitates the purchase and execution of digital outdoor advertising nationwide. FlipHound was created to address the disparity between the soaring supply of digital billboards and the cumbersome legacy purchasing processes of the outdoor advertising industry. Prior to FlipHound, Brandon worked as the CEO of a healthcare software company for nearly a decade, creating and launching software products aimed at increasing patient care and efficiency in health-care billing. Brandon holds a B.A. in electrical engineering from the University of Kansas and is a husband and father of four.




Xandra M. Sifuentes, Metactive Medical (Olathe)

Xandra Sifuentes is president of Metactive Medical, LLC, an Olathe company developing novel, catheter-based medical devices for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Metactive’s first medical device product is a cerebral aneurysm treatment that offers a more complete solution that is faster and easier to perform, as well as being less costly than existing treatment options. Prior to joining Metactive, Xandra was co-founder and CEO of Adroit Motion, LLC, an early-stage medical device company developing laparoscopic surgical hand instruments. Xandra was a 2010-2011 University of Missouri Biodesign and Innovation Program fellow and previously provided research assistance to high-growth technology ventures at the Missouri Innovation Center. She also has engineering experience in the aviation and aerospace industry for Honeywell International and Garmin International. Xandra received a B.S. from the College of Engineering at the University of Missouri and an MBA from the Crosby MBA Program at the University of Missouri.

Ben Vu, SkyVu Entertainment (Omaha)

Ben Vu is the CEO and co-founder of SkyVu Entertainment, based in Omaha. SkyVu is a next-gen entertainment company that creates original mobile social games and licensed consumer products. Vu was an animator on the Oscar-nominated film CORALINE when he decided to break free to realize his own character franchises for the iPhone. His hit game series, BATTLE BEARS, has been downloaded more than 14 million times and has reached the top of the App store in the U.S., China, Australia, and more than 40 other countries. SkyVu has garnered Top Games of the Year awards from Yahoo/Appolicious, TouchArcade and iLounge. Vu was awarded the Midwest Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 award in 2010, received his bachelor’s degree at Ball State, and earned his M.F.A. from Disney’s CalArts School of Film and Video.



The unveiling of Pipeline’s 2012 innovators was just part of a full slate on Thursday. For more on the day’s events, check out the coverage from Silicon Prairie News and the video recap from Pipeline below.


Image and video credits: Photos by Kenny Johnson. Video from Pipeline on Vimeo.

Disclosure: Silicon Prairie News is a media sponsor of Pipline Innovator of the Year.

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