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10 people to grab coffee with if you’re new to KC’s startup community

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While the Silicon Prairie may span across several states, include vastly different types of companies and entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds (and football rivalries), supportive communities are one factor that tie them all together. Whether you’re in Omaha or Des Moines, Kansas City or Cedar Rapids, you’ll find people who really care about helping their fellow entrepreneur thrive.

That being said, it can still be intimidating to be the new kid on the block. So we wanted to help.

This week, we’ll be sharing lists of the 10 people from each community who are go-to points of contact who can help a new entrepreneur, designer or developer get connected with the local scene. Thanks to everyone who helped us pull it together. There are many, many others worth connecting with—drop them in the comments—but you have to start somewhere.

Last, but certainly not least, we bring you a list of Kansas City founders, supporters and community leaders who can help newcomers get acclimated.

We asked each community member to tell us a bit about themselves, what they’re passionate about and where you can find them.

 Nate Allen

Nate Allen

CTO at Proof

Twitter: @neight

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

Specialty!? Specialization is for insects.

I spend most of my time helping other founders build their companies based on data. How do you make decisions based on data? How do you get the data you need? How do you figure out what questions to ask? How can you put away your ego to build the product your customers need?

What are you looking for in new connections?

I usually have a few topics I’m trying to brush up on. I love to talk to people who are also learning those things or who are experts in those things. Right now, those topics are product management for startups and the philosophy of marketing.

Where can we typically find you? (ie. a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

Working out of Think Big Coworking in the Crossroads district of Downtown KCMO.

Adam Arredondo 

Adam Arredondo

Co-founder & Director of Entrepreneurship of CEED & Co-leader of Kansas City Startup Village

Twitter@KCdondo

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

I am passionate about doing everything I can to make Kansas City one of the most recognized, successful startup communities in America.

I’d say my specialty is connecting people with the Kansas City startup communtiy whether it’s early stage startups, students, corporate leaders or politicians. Having founded and ran a startup for three years and being heavily involved in KCSV for the past two years, I’ve built a large network and love to share it with others.

What are you looking for in new connections?

It’s simple … I look for people with passion for startups and/or Kansas City (hopefully both). Passion is the fuel for meaningful action.

Where can we typically find you? (ie. a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

I love meeting for coffee or drinks in River Market but obviously spend a lot of time in KCSV, as well. Once the future KCSV coworking space is complete, you’ll find me there a lot.

 Chris Brown

Chris Brown

Attorney with Venture Legal

Twitter: @CSBCounsel

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

I provide legal services to Kansas City based entrepreneurs and startups on matters including business formation, employment and contractor agreements, intellectual property and more.

I care a lot about the future of our entrepreneurial community and I want to see it continue to grow as it has over the last few years. Towards that end, I love getting involved with community events and mentoring anytime I get a chance!

What are you looking for in new connections?

I’m always up for meeting new people over coffee, whether it is to discuss legal matters or just business ideas in general. I think it is important for entrepreneurs to maintain a large support network and I enjoy facilitating introductions whenever they are relevant. At the same time, it is always exciting when a connection can introduce me to someone who can help my clients, the community or me.

Where can we typically find you? (ie. a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

I spend most of my time in the Crossroads, usually at Mildred’s Coffeehouse or Think Big Co-Working.

 Diana Kander

Diana Kander

Author, Assistant teaching professor at the University of Missouri & Senior Fellow at the Kauffman Foundation

Twitter@DianaKander

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

My specialty is helping companies really understand their customers. Are they interested in your product or service? What true pain are you solving? Why are they buying from you or one of your competitors?

I also help companies develop entrepreneurial thinking within their workforce.

What are you looking for in new connections?

I like to meet people who inspire me.

Where can we typically find you? (ie. a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

I’m on the road a lot, so Twitter or email is usually the best way to get a hold of me.

 Kari Keefe

Kari Keefe

Community Catalyst with Mozilla’s Gigabit Community Fund

Twitter@karikeefe

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

Digital literacy and inclusion, Ed Tech, gigabit application development for education and workforce development.

What are you looking for in new connections?

I’m looking to meet and engage with people to help me connect bottom up work in the field to top down infrastructure and policy making when it comes to education reform, internet connectivity and access as a public utility, new school models, and career- and college-readiness.

Where can we typically find you? (ie. a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

I start most mornings at Aixois or Crows in BKS before heading to my office at Innovation Cafe.

 Blake Miller

Blake Miller

Co-founder of Bodeefit, Partner at Think Big Partners & Director of Think Big Accelerator 

Twitter: @ImBmills

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

I think that I have a very broad knowledge of many areas that it takes to be successful as an entrepreneur and what it takes to build and grow a company.

I’m passionate about: innovation, economic development, the Internet of Things, Smart Cities, The Future, product design & development, UI/UX, distribution channels, growth marketing, social media, startup mentoring, product management and being a dot connector.

What are you looking for in new connections?

I want to work with people who are passionate about what they are working on, passionate about being apart of something bigger then themselves, and willing to help others while being helped themselves.

But the biggest things I look for is a humble confidence in their own abilities.

Where can we typically find you? (ie. a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

You can find me in Downtown Kansas City, not to take anything else away from other parts of the city but I don’t think there is a better place as an entrepreneur millennial to live, work and play.

 Toby Rush

Toby Rush

CEO of EyeVerify

Twitter@TobiasRush

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

Early stage startups. Mobile. Machine vision/image understanding. Raising capital. University tech transfer. Staying grounded in what really matters.

What are you looking for in new connections?

Practical and hands-on experience. Honest, candid conversations. The desire to help or be helped. A network of associates and friends. Someone who is a player, not a pretender.

Where can we typically find you? (ie. a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

Events that are associated with: Pipeline, the Kauffman Foundation, the Kansas City Startup Village, Think Big Partners, Flyover Capital and Mid-America Angels.

Ilya Tabakh

Ilya Tabakh

Founder of Somametric Incorporated

Twitter: @ilyatabakh

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

I am passionate about creating and improving experiences for people (traditionally called human factors and ergonomics or more recently UX). I love trying to solve complicated multi-diciplinary problems. The overlap between my background as a systems engineer and the developing field of affective computing (might have to google that one) has captured my imagination over the past five years.

What are you looking for in new connections?

In an interlocutor, I hope to find an individual who is curious and giving in nature. As is the KC way, I am happy to meet good people for a coffee as time allows. This continued dialogue and collaboration has greatly strengthed the regional community and I am happy to contribute. I try to understand what really drives and excites the people that I meet. People that are working on problems that have peaked their creative energy can change the world.

Where can we typically find you? (ie. a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

If I am around town, I am typically hiding upstairs at Thou Mayest or in the River Market. KC continues to sprout amazing community spaces so I make an effort to check in every once in a while.

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Alisha Templeton

Program manager at Sprint Accelerator, powered by Techstars

Twitter@AlishaBethT

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

I’m a program manager for Techstars—I run the Sprint Accelerator powered by Techstars and we focus on mobile healthcare startups. I’m also a leader of the Social Media Club of Kansas City and have a background in marketing and the social medias.

What are you looking for in new connections?

Always looking for great startups as potential candidates for our Techstars accelerators. Love Kansas City and enjoy helping the startup community grow.

Where can we typically find you? (ie. a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

Mostly in the Crossroads, the Sprint Accelerator, Mildred’s, Snow & Co, my house in Columbus Park and also traveling, traveling, traveling.

Ryan Weber

Ryan Weber

President of KCnext

Twitter: @RyanWeberKC

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

At KCnext, we are lucky to work with more than 130 member-companies that support our organization. The greatest benefit to membership is access. This includes access to other companies, events, resources and connections.

Our passion is to advance the tech industry in the Kansas City region. Because we have access to our member-companies (many of which are large corporations) we love making connections. Not all of our member-companies are tech companies. Therefore, we can provide a broad range of connections to the business and civic community.

What are you looking for in new connections?

I may break this into two categories—personal and professional.

Personally, my goal in making meaningful connections is to ensure they are mutually beneficial. I never expect anything in return. However, I know the more I connect people the more connections people make for me. This principle proves itself over and over again. Some call it karma but I believe its part of creating your own luck.

Professionally, many of the same principles apply. I have been known to ask a ton of questions before making high-level introductions. It’s not because I guard these connections or lack trust. I honestly just want to make sure that the connection will be mutually beneficial.

We’re privileged to have access to decision-makers who represent large companies. For startups, these connections can be extremely beneficial, but only when they are made at the right time. Typically, the more busy and important people are, the more likely you are to only get one opportunity. Therefore, it’s important to make it count. That goes for both of us—I think people forget that sometimes. Our reputation is on the line, too.

Where can we typically find you? (ie. a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

Our offices are located inside Union Station so you can often find me at Parisi’s coffee. I am also a big fan of Oddly Correct and Roasterie coffee. I recommend staying away from the big chain coffeehouses.

 

Want to get plugged into another community? Check out our lists from across the region.  

  • Brenda Clevenger

    What a great roundup of like minded people who are willing to connect those new to KC to the right circles.

  • Love this list! I’ve lived in KC my whole life and have met several of these outstanding people but it looks like there are a few more people I need to be sure and grab coffee with!

  • Cindy Cieplik

    Impressive line-up! Even though I feel on the fringe, I appreciate meeting theses leaders here, and understanding why KC is such an amazing incubator for innovative and successful entrepreneurs! Thank you for sharing these profiles and a special hello to the amazing Adam Arredondo!

  • jeff morgan

    KCSourcelink forever thinking of and connecting others. Nice work!!