Pipeline Selects First Regional “Innovator of the Year” and Announces 2013 Class of Entrepreneurial Fellows
KANSAS CITY, KAN. (Jan. 24, 2013) — The Pipeline entrepreneurial fellowship program revealed its 2013 Regional class of Fellows tonight, along with announcing other entrepreneurial awards, including the Innovator of the Year award, at its signature Innovator of the Year (IOTY) event held this year at The Midland in Kansas City.
The IOTY event also celebrated Pipeline’s 2012 Fellowsits first Regional class of entrepreneurs from Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri. Pipeline additionally unveiled the 2013 class containing 13 entrepreneurs from 10 cities in the three states:
Dave Alburty, Drexel, Mo. (InnovaPrep LLC and AlburtyLab Inc.); Ben Blecha, Benkelman, Neb. (Ace Ortho Solutions); Leandro Castro, Omaha, Neb. (Multimech RD); Alexandros Cavgalar, Wichita, Kan. (Ulterius Technologies); Abigail Cohen, St. Louis, Mo. (Sparo Labs); Keith Entzeroth, Kansas City, Mo. (instin); Paul Jarrett, Lincoln, Neb. (Bulu Box); Matt Medlock, Omaha, Neb. (PaySAFE); Scott Pribyl, Kansas City, Kan. (eNovation); Rob Rhodes, Lincoln, Neb. (InjuReplay); Joshua Sestak, Lawrence, Kan. (Orion BioScience); Dennis Steinman, Lecompton, Kan. (Iron Mountain Products LLC); Patrick Stoddart, Kansas City, Mo. (Revdel).
Ben Vu, SkyVu Entertainment, Omaha was named 2012 Innovator of the Year. He was selected following a competition that included a refined business plan, a pitch to a panel of national business experts and a score carried over from performance during the fellowship year.
The daylong IOTY event included pitches by the 2012 fellows, a discussion panel of national business leaders and networking throughout the day. In addition to naming the Innovator of the Year and welcoming the 2013 class, the evening awards ceremony featured:
• The awarding of the Entrepreneurial Leadership Award to Pipeline National Advisor Chris Bernard (Microsoft) and Pipeline Partner Trish Brasted (Wichita Technology Corporation)
• Announcement of the Pipeline Member Growth Award to Bruce Ianni (Innovadex)
• Announcement of the Pipeline Member Inspiration Award to Jason Tatge (Farms Technology)
• Recognition of the 2012 Class of Pipeline Innovators: Pierre Barbeau, Kansas City, Mo. (Moblico); Nathan Benjamin, Kansas City, Mo. (InvenQuery); Justin Graves, Kansas City, Mo. (Infegy); Blake Lawrence, Lincoln (opendorse); Matthew MacEwan, St. Louis (Retectix); Ben Pankonin, Lincoln (Social Assurance); Brandon Shuey, Wichita (FlipHound.com); Xandra Sifuentes, Olathe (Metactive Medical LLC); and Ben Vu, Omaha (SkyVu Entertainment).
“I feel so fortunate to be a part of this first Regional Pipeline class,” said Ben Vu, SkyVu Entertainment, Omaha. “This year has been tremendous both in terms of my company growth, as well as my experience becoming part of the Midwest’s most exciting group of entrepreneurs. I think I speak for all of us in the 2012 class when I say we are grateful that this expansion allowed us all to become part of something so special.”
The evening’s honorary chairs, reflecting Pipeline’s Regional expansion, were Sandy and Christine Kemper, Kansas City, Mo.; James and Karen Linder, Omaha; and Brian and Tron Williamson, Wichita. The judges were Scott Case, founding chief technology officer of Priceline; Magda Marquet, founder of Althea Technologies and Althea Dx; and Thom Ruhe, vice president of entrepreneurship at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
The Innovator of the Year event continues to grow in scope and stature as one of the Region’s premier entrepreneurial events. This year nearly 600 people attended, including entrepreneurs and business leaders from around the country.
“It is so exciting to look around Innovator of the Year tonight and see this rapidly growing family of national advisers, investors, mentors and advocates all celebrating our high‐performing entrepreneurs,” said Joni Cobb, Pipeline president and CEO. “When we have this opportunity to all gather together—filling a stage with entrepreneurs now from three states—you can imagine that you are applauding the very group of entrepreneurs who will inevitably shake up the Midwest—and will do it together.”