8Qs with a Silicon Prairie Founder: Darcy Howe

Growing up in St. Louis, my first boss picked me up at my parent’s house, popped open two beers, and without seatbelts, drove to Kansas City. That was the 70’s.

Since then I’ve lived in NYC and then 36 years in KC, where my partners and I built the largest private wealth practice in our firm in the region.  Nearly 30 years ago I became an angel investor, and all of those relationships and investment experiences lead to the venture firm I manage today.

Darcy A. Howe, Managing Director, KC Rise Fund

 

 

SPN: How did you get started?
DH: December 2015 I retired, and a nanosecond later, the KC community beckoned me with a challenge, called KC Rising, to help business and civic leaders figure out how to grow our regional economy at a faster clip.

Focus groups and lots of meetings later, it became clear that (among many other initiatives borne out of KC Rising) someone needed to connect the dots between entrepreneurs who needed capital and the families and corporations I knew who had capital.

SPN: Is your job what you thought you would be doing when you were a child?
DH: Little girls in the 60s and 70s saw two job possibilities, for the most part –  secretary and teacher. Good thing I liked the typing class! As a child of an entrepreneurial, athletic, bon vivant Dad, it seemed to me that business school, softball, rugby, skiing and sorority life would be interesting things to try.

SPN: What are you building right now? Why is it important to you?
DH: KCRise Fund II. Mission-driven to help make KC the cool place that people like my adult children would want to return; my team and I have been tireless to engage families of wealth and corporations as investors in the region’s many venture-backable businesses.

While KC began with an entrepreneurial spirit, we’ve suffered from a slower, more comfortable pace. Happily, many are having as much fun as we are helping young companies succeed and contribute with globally competitive solutions to today’s challenges.

SPN: What is your favorite thing that you have ever built? Why was it your favorite?
DH: Our daughter, Katie, and son, Andrew. I love to work, build things and be productive. But there is no greater project with immensely rewarding outcomes than helping to ‘build’ two people of achievement who are using all of those skills to do cool things in their own ways.

SPN: If you could improve one thing about your job or the place that you live, what would the change be?
DH: Accelerating the pace of change in the Kansas City region. We are getting our rear ends kicked by many communities who make decisions faster, come together with solutions and execute. The sleeping Midwest giant is awakening, so watch out world. We are coming after you!

SPN: Was there anything looking back that you would do differently?
DH: Like a lot of people with decades of experience, try more things, get out of my comfort zone, and surround myself with people who will challenge me to be better.

SPN: What could the SPN community do to help you succeed?
DH: As Kauffman Foundation says, “Out of 1000 people, 3 are entrepreneurs. The other 997 need to help them’. Let’s all find a few ways we can help the growth engine in our communities and our country.

SPN: If you could ask these questions to anyone, who would it be?
DH: Esther George, President and Chief Executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

Visit https://kcrisefund.com to read more about KCRise Fund.