By Christine and Sandy Kemper
We have followed Pipeline for several years and were thrilled with the Regional expansion that occurred this past year, making Pipeline available to entrepreneurs in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. After all, we too are a Regional partnership: Sandy is from Kansas City, while Christine grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska. And, we own businesses in both Missouri and Kansas. With our deep roots spreading across this same Region, we jumped at the chance to be co-chairs of Innovator of the Year—the first time Pipeline will recognize and celebrate graduating a Regional class. We also love having the chance to talk to our fellow entrepreneurs in Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas about Pipeline and all that it offers. Innovator of the Year is the perfect opportunity for them to get a close-up look at one of the most innovative programs in the country.
Similar to the startup companies founded by its member entrepreneurs, growth for Pipeline is a natural outcome of success. Pipeline growing into a Regional effort outside the Kansas borders where it began is very entrepreneurial. We like the fact that Pipeline is not being parochial in its approach. Instead, Pipeline’s vision is expansive, because entrepreneurship isn’t just critical to one state, it’s critical to the country and to the world. Our national economy and the world economy are driven by the thousands of entrepreneurs similar to those we will celebrate at Innovator of the Year.
While IOTY celebrates and recognizes entrepreneurs and honors their achievements, the day-long event also is a time to work on business. Pipeline’s current class members pitch to a national panel of judges to earn the title of Innovator of the Year. And, there is a panel discussion where attendees gain insights from national thought-leaders, along with plenty of opportunities for networking and making the connections that lead to successful business relationships.
On the West Coast, the robust entrepreneurial ecosystem allows for “coincidental” conversations among entrepreneurs as they casually meet and cross paths. The sheer critical mass of the entrepreneurial community in Silicon Valley is such that you can have those coincidental interactions. Pipeline brings entrepreneurs together and facilitates those interactions in a more formal way, offering that same opportunity for entrepreneurs to have conversations and build relationships with other innovators in many different fields.
Whether through casual interactions in Silicon Valley or Pipeline’s more strategic interactions here in Silicon Prairie, that cross pollination is extremely valuable in diffusing innovation and disruptive ideas from one industry to another. After all, a great working model in one business or industry can have application in a completely different business or industry.
Leveraging those interactions is what makes Innovator of the Year such a unique and valuable event. IOTY isn’t just an awards ceremony, it’s a full day of networking where Pipeline members, entrepreneurs, business leaders and others can exchange ideas and learn from each other, as well as gain insights from regional and national experts.
The atmosphere at IOTY, like all Pipeline events, will be electric—fueled by the ideas and passion of Pipeline’s members and supporters. The ability to take a business from an idea to something tangible—perhaps something wonderfully disruptive that changes the very nature of the business or industry—is highly motivational. It’s why we get out of bed in the morning. And, it’s why we encourage you to join us and experience that passion and energy at Pipeline’s Innovator of the Year on Jan. 24.