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Sprint partners with Pipeline, opens lines of communication to members

Sprint’s Kevin McGinnis speaks to Pipeline Entrepreneurial Fellowship members.

Sprint has opened the lines of communication with Pipeline Entrepreneurial Fellowship as a top-level corporate partner. Announced today, the Kansas City neighbors will collaborate on new entrepreneurial programs in the region, share strategies and knowledge, create national relationships and work to bring further corporate involvement to Pipeline.

“Pipeline is the machine of entrepreneurship in Kansas City,” Kevin McGinnis, vice president of product platforms at Sprint, told Silicon Prairie News last week. “We want to contribute to their success rate, but also create new joint programs with them and access all the early innovation and ideas they have.”

Founded in 2007, Pipeline selects 10-12 entrepreneurs yearly for its business leadership development program. They then become part of a growing network—68 total as of now—whose members often collaborate on projects, start new companies and invest in each other.

Pointing to the “Kansas City Tech Galaxy” map released by a Swiss researcher through the Kauffman Foundation last week, McGinnis said Sprint has viewed that as “a North Star of sorts” for its engagement with the KC startup community and the region. “There’s a leadership position we see for ourselves in Kansas City,” he said.

Joni Cobb (right), Pipeline president and CEO, said Sprint is the first KC-based firm to partner with the organization at this level and is the biggest backer outside of the State of Nebraska and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation—which provided a three-year challenge grant of up to $800,000 for expansion. It’s a multi-year partnership, she said, but other terms weren’t disclosed. She said she’s most excited about the hands-on experiences members will be able to have with Sprint’s technology, the expertise they’ll gain and the dialogue that will start between the two groups.

Part of the venture’s focus is to bring more resources and investors back to the region—Pipeline has a three-state membership from Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska—through relationships Sprint has built across the country.

They have a strong starting point: According to a fact sheet provided by the group, member firms employ 858 people across those states, with more than 380 of those jobs created after participation in Pipeline. Member companies generated $132.5 million in revenues in 2012 and have raised more than $38 million in outside capital since 2008.

Sprint has generated a lot of news in the startup community lately. International entrepreneurship organization UP Global announced Tuesday Sprint will become a partner, involved in programs such as Startup Weekend. Also, the telecom giant last month acquired Kansas City-based app developer Handmark and its subsidiary, OneLouder.


Credits: Photo and head shot provided by Pipeline.

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