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Kauffman’s Kander tells founders to let their startup baby grow

Diana Kander is a senior fellow at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. At the Foundation, she fosters the growth of entrepreneurship through educational and applied programs. A successful entrepreneur with experience in the legal, technology and service sectors, Kander has founded and sold multiple enterprises.


These days, Diana Kander has babies on the brain. 

And quite understandably so—the senior fellow at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is six months pregnant.

So naturally when she took the stage at Big Omaha on Friday morning, Kander spoke about how “toddlers and startups actually have an amazing amount of things in common.” 

Both require a name and people to take care of them and both need a lot of stuff and require even more money, she said. But just as expecting parents wouldn’t rush into planning a career for their unborn child, Kander stressed the importance of taking the time to fully form an idea before launching a business.

“There’s a fundamental flaw in how we think about startups,” she said. 

Rather than rushing into business, Kander believes that, like a baby, ideas need time to gestate and fully form. They need time, resources and lots of planning in order to be successful. 

“If your business has any kind of interaction with human beings or could be affected by things beyond your control, then this is no time to quit your job, raise a bunch of money, hire a bunch of people and start building product,” she said.

Instead she urges entrepreneurs to step back and fully research business ideas before attempting to launch a poorly planned company. 

“Stop trying to sell people and start trying to figure out if you’re solving a real problem,” she said.

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Big Omaha is a two-and-a-half-day event that aims to inspire, educate and celebrate the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the heart of the Midwest. Produced by Silicon Prairie News, it’s part of the Big Series, the nation’s most ambitious events on innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Big Omaha Video Series is presented by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Based in Kansas City, Mo., the Kauffman Foundation is among the largest foundations in the U.S. with a mission to foster a society of economically independent individuals who are engaged citizens, continuing the improvement of their communities.



Credits: Video by Quadrant5. Snippet photo by Malone & Company.