“Pipeline is the machine for entrepreneurship in the region right now.” Kevin McGinnis | Sprint
Pipeline is an elite organization of the Midwest’s most successful, high-performance entrepreneurs. Our Members work as one to face business challenges, funnel opportunities to their peers and build market-leading technology and life-sciences business together.
Each year approximately 10-12 new entrepreneurs are invited to join Pipeline as Fellows. After an extensive selection process, new Fellows participate in a unique and rigorous year-long business leadership development program that blends workshop modules, advice from national experts, and a deepening of the relationships among new and current Pipeline Members. This introductory year-long program leverages a national network of business advisers at the forefront of their respective specialties who engage deeply with Pipeline, effectively extending the entrepreneurs’ business networks nationwide.
In 2010, a generous matching grant from the Kauffman Foundation enabled Pipeline to expand to a regional nonprofit serving entrepreneurial leaders throughout the Midwest who work together to face business challenges, funnel opportunities to their peers, and build market-leading technology and life-sciences companies. The Kauffman Foundation remains a key supporter of the program, having committed more than $2 million in funding.
Since its founding in 2006 (beginning in Kansas), Pipeline has built an elite network of entrepreneurial leaders who work as one to face business challenges, funnel opportunities to their peers, and build market- leading technology and life-sciences businesses together. As keystones of the regional business environment, Pipeline Members are creating jobs, investing in their businesses and communities, and mentoring the next-generation of business leaders.
What We Do
The initial Pipeline Fellowship year is an “immersion experience.” Our goal is to link each of our entrepreneurs to a robust and powerful network of supporters, peers and advisers. Our entrepreneurs do not just “learn about business.” The aim is to undergo a life altering experience that also changes the direction and trajectory of their company and connect them to lifelong friends and allies. After the Fellowship year and upon becoming full Members of the organization, Pipeline entrepreneurs recognize the power of the network, and remain engaged as they start new companies, enter even higher growth issues, become investors and continue as leaders in Pipeline –and in their communities.
What does a Fellowship Year in the Pipeline program entail?
As an entrepreneur in the Fellowship, you will attend various functions and events – such as our three-day modules, “Innovator of the Year,” as well as optional events beneficial to building your network. You will establish open communication with advisers working with you for the entire Fellowship year. Additionally, we organize one national network building event and engage many national advisers in our work that are available to our Fellows.
What type of networking can I expect if in the class?
Investors, experts and entrepreneurs across the country take part in Pipeline programs both locally and at our national network building events around the United States. Numerous Pipeline Fellows have enjoyed exponential success from networking with individuals within the Midwest and around the country. The Pipeline advisers also can help entrepreneurs meet the right people to make their business flourish. Networking within one’s Fellowship class can lead to tremendous business collaboration and opportunity.
What if I doubt I am the right stage in my business to be in the Pipeline program (too early/too advanced)?
Pipeline prides itself on creating opportunity for entrepreneurs – even if not selected for the current class. We go the extra miles to ensure the judging/interviewing panels are comprised of investors, experts and resource provides that allow applicants to make pivotal contacts, regardless of the outcome of the interview. We work very hard to connect each applicant to the right resource for growth, recommend investor groups if appropriate and add you to our networking event lists (for our open events). This is a no lose situation for entrepreneurs.
Are you targeting any type of industry (bio, IT, etc?)
Currently, the lion’s share of Pipeline entrepreneurs are leading technology and bioscience entrepreneurial ventures, with a wide variety of technology focus areas. Additionally, some of our entrepreneurs are leading consumer product companies. The common denominator is that each incoming Fellow is working to build the “high growth” company. Our entrepreneurs aspire to build the next generation of companies that are leading the Midwest economy. If you are unsure if your company would be deemed a high growth fit, please email our offices to inquire. Additionally, you can check out the types of companies our entrepreneurs lead by clicking here.
Do you support entrepreneurs from certain regions or the entire state?
Pipeline has expanded to a larger Midwest Region, starting in 2012. We have partnered with individuals, foundations and organizations in the Midwest who believe in our model and are actively engaged – helping the organization grow and make impact. As such we accept applicants who hail from our partner Regional boundaries. Our Region includes the state of Kansas, the state of Nebraska, and the Kansas City Metropolitan area (Kansas and Missouri sides of KC Metro), as well as entrepreneurs affiliated with our St. Louis partner – Washington University.
Are there any costs to join as a Fellow?
Currently there are no costs to apply to the program, beyond your own travel expenses to modules. Yes, we said that. No costs, we take no equity stake. Wow.
What are the time requirements/attendance requirements?
As a Fellow in the Pipeline program you will be expected to attend the “Innovator of the Year” event as orientation into the program; attend four, three-day modules throughout the year; commit approximately five days of independent work to complete work between modules; participate in group events with peers to support class dynamic and the program; and have regular communications with your advisers.
Will I know ahead of time when the modules are scheduled?
Yes. Pipeline will have the dates of the 2014 modules set before offers to join the 2014 Fellowship are extended.
How do you select advisers for the program?
Each year Pipeline engages experts and advisers from the nation to assist the Fellows as they navigate their Fellowship year and work between modules to make maximum impact on their growth. We continually add to this “bench” of engaged advisers and will involve both seasoned Pipeline advisers, as well as new experts who add to our collective knowledge and overall energy of a growing program. Our goal is that these advisers believe in the mission of our work, are tremendous assets to the Fellow, and are available at least once a month for counsel. They do not “do the work” for the Fellow, but rather serve as a sage adviser and encourager to what can be a lonely work path for many.
Is there programming after the initial Fellowship year?
Yes, and it’s growing. Because Pipeline is currently in its seventh year, we can now have a large, established network of Pipeline Members. We have a committee of Pipeline Members who help keep communication active within the classes, as well as plan functions and events just for the entire membership. Members are also encouraged to be ‘peer advisers’ for the current class and are invited to most Pipeline events. We work hard to ensure we continually bring new resources, information and contacts to Pipeline Members so that the experience stays rich for them. Also, their ongoing, tight-knit relationships are extremely valuable to them. We encourage you to watch their videos to see what we mean.
How does the application and selection process work for the Fellowship program?
Interested candidates should fill out and submit an online application found on the Apply page. Applications will be screened, and selected candidates will be invited to first round interviews with a panel of judges. The selection will be narrowed down again and candidates will be chosen for final round of interviews in front of a new panel of judges. Chosen applicants will be notified in December.
Will I have to travel for modules and other events?
Yes, you will be expected to travel in order to attend modules. Pipeline may make available trips to conferences and meetings inside, and outside, the Midwest that add value to your Fellowship.
What are Modules and where are they?
Modules are three day learning/networking events and have a tight focus on specific topics related to entrepreneurial success. Pipeline brings in the best national leaders in technology, entrepreneurial education, venture investing and company formation to work with you. We invite local experts to work side-by-side with our national network so you have a team working with you for the long term. These individuals have countless hours of experience counseling emerging and growing companies. There are four modules throughout the year located in the Midwest (and one “trip” module – this year was in Boston). They are generally held from Wednesday through Friday afternoon. You will know these dates before agreeing to participate.
Pipeline Board of Directors:
Pipeline President and CEO
Chairman of the Board
Beckloff Associates, Inc.
Overland Park, KS
Dr. James Linder
University of Nebraska Technology Development Corporation