It may be a competition, but the Eastern Jackson County Challenge is also an opportunity for like-minded business people to chalk talk, swap war stories and learn more strategies for success.
At a kick-off event to celebrate the launch of the challenge headed by Lead Ventures, Megan and Jason Day of Lee’s Summit admitted as much.
“So far it’s been great,” Day, co-owner of BBQ Addicts along with wife, Megan, said of the challenge Feb. 20 inside a reception room at Lead Bank. The bank is located at 9019 S. Missouri Highway 7 in Lee’s Summit. “We’ve had the opportunity to have a few meetings with (Lead Ventures principles). For us it’s been a good way to focus in on what activities we should be focusing on and getting that assistance. It’s in its early stages right now, but I think it’s going to be really, really good for us.”
“It’s very exciting to see an organization that has chosen to highlight some of the smaller businesses that are here that are trying to expand,” Megan Day said. “So, knowing that we have the opportunity to sit down with them, learn from them, listen to what they’re doing – potentially moving us up to a higher level – shows the credit of them really taking a chance on us and some of the other smaller businesses so that we can continue to bring jobs and more commerce to this area. I think there is a lot of great potential and they are really helping us get there.”
Lead Ventures’ business accelerator program launched the challenge to support the growth of businesses in eastern Jackson County.
Prize funds totaling $50,000 will be awarded to one or more companies participating in the program. Each company chosen for the six-month program also will be given a suite of business services valued at $10,000 or more.
After six months, participants will present their companies to an executive panelof business experts and executives who will offer them professional guidance and wisdom. Throughout the program, challenger companies will be introduced to Kansas City’s angel and professional investment community. At the end of the six-month challenge, one or more businesses will be awarded the $50,000 prize.
The 2013 Eastern Jackson County Business Challengers are: The Berry Nutty Farm, BBQ Addicts, Community Buying Group, Shear Madness Haircuts for Kids, and vProviders, who all had representatives in attendance.
The open house allowed the public to meet the businesses and the people behind the program for the first time.
“The Eastern Jackson County Challenge is a blessing,” said Darrell Tindal, co-owner of The Berry Nutty Farm. Tindal owns the business with Andrea Schnetzler. “Not just for the eventual hopeful prize money, but just for the education and everything that Lead Bank has been able to put at our fingertips to help us become a better, stronger company because we are growing rapidly right now. Their support is just amazing. The networking with everyone else – the faces I have not been able to meet before – is just awesome.”
Lead Ventures bills itself as Kansas City’s first bank-affiliated business accelerator, providing investments and advice to small and start-up businesses. They have committed a million dollars to local business in 2011. Lead Ventures has set out to support the local business community, said Josh Rowland, vice chairman of Lead Bank and CEO of Lead Ventures.
“There’s a network and a community of people in eastern Jackson County who care a lot about what’s happening with small businesses,” Rowland said. “We want to be a part of that conversation.”
“With the program what we are trying to do is focus in on our business and put together a plan for expansion and growth,” said Jason Day. “It’s kind of a part-time thing for us right now so we’re working on what we can do to scale it up to become a full-time gig.”