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Pipeline celebrates 10 years of innovation

Photo by Brian Lee.

Over 600 people from the regional startup community gathered on January 26th at Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland in Kansas City to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Pipeline Entrepreneurs, the region’s most successful organization of high-growth entrepreneurs.

“The past ten years have been much running a high growth start up – we’ve had ups, downs, twist and turns — and have evolved just like our own entrepreneur members. And we have done it because so many believe in us, rally behind us, advocate for us and help our entrepreneurs succeed. It’s been an honor to lead this wonderful group,” said Joni Cobb, Pipeline President & CEO.

The event also marked the induction of this year’s Pipeline fellows. Pipeline Fellows are chosen for the program following an intensive application and interview process.

“We are still just learning about the new class, but they, like all classes before them, reflect enormous diversity in geography, industry, experience and perspective. It was fantastic to hear from them last night that they are already bonding and predicting they just might be the ‘best class’ (they all say that by the way…), said Cobb.

The 2017 fellows are:

Iyad Aldalooj, Fairshop, Omaha
Jared Bakewell, Proseeds, Omaha
Austin Barone, Just Play Sports Solutions, Kansas City
Dan Curran, PowerPost, St. Louis
Joe Fischer, Greetabl, St. Louis
Beth Handrigan, Lean Media, St. Louis
Evan Luxon, Esculon, Omaha
Jennifer Rosenblatt, MusicSpoke, Kansas City
Roy Scott, H3 Enterprise, Kansas City
Lei Shi, UAVradars, Lawrence
Derek Weber, goBRANDgo!, St. Louis
Elisha Yaghmai, Vigilias Telehealth, Wichita

“I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate our past decade, and launch our next, than recognizing the outstanding growth and contributions of our own entrepreneurs,” said Cobb, in a press release. “This day and night has always been my favorite way to express the tremendous gratitude we all feel for our many partners who have helped us reach this amazing decade milestone.”

This year’s theme was the era of The Great Gatsby. Attendees dressed in vintage sparkling dresses, feathered headwear and tuxedos. This year is also a significant milestone for another Kansas City institution.

“The theme found us. The decade mark gave us a really great reason to look at our current celebration and adjust it to focus on so many awards for long term members and supporters,” said Cobb. “As for the vintage nightclub feel and the ‘Celebration of the Decade’ it just seemed perfect to celebrate in a way that gave a nod to classic, entertaining, intimate and ‘lively’ energy of a vintage night club as it allowed us to feature our own members and mentors in glittering style. It’s an anniversary we will never forget.”

Photo by Brian Lee.

Earlier in the day entrepreneurs pitched their ideas to a panel of national judges. The judges for the competition included Thomas Churchwell of ViMedicus, Victor Hwang of the Kauffman Foundation, Rebecca Lovell of the Office of Economic Development in Seattle and David Wilhelm of Hecate Energy.

“I’ve seen more pitch competitions than I can count, and I was blown away with the quality,” said Lovell.

The evening also included recognition for the following award winners:
Entrepreneurial Leadership: Michael Beckloff (Silvergate Pharmaceuticals, Kansas City)
Pipeline Entrepreneur (Member) Growth: Toby Rush (EveVerify, Kansas City) and Jeff Hargroves (ProPharma Group, Kansas City)
Pipeline Entrepreneur (Member) Inspiration: Tim Donnelly (SoftVu, Kansas City)
2016 Innovator of the Year: Michelle Faits (Pro-Arc Diganostics, St. Louis)

Michelle Faits (Pro-Arc Diganostics, St. Louis) was named the 2016 Innovator of the Year. Innovator of the Year is awarded to only one of the graduating Pipeline Fellows.

“Pipeline has been the beneficiary of so many who helped us expand in to new territories (like Nebraska, Missouri) and brought enthusiasm and support for an ambitious regional model,” said Cobb. “We are incredibly grateful for their confidence in us, our approach to helping as a ‘next step’ for their top entrepreneurs – and we certainly hope we’ll be doing this work with them for decades to come.”

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