Today, August 28th, the Pipeline Entrepreneurial Fellowship is opening its application for 2020 fellows.
Pipeline is the premier networking, mentoring, and entrepreneurial encouragement program in the Midwest. It has effectively helped build a network throughout Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. In so doing, Pipeline has helped, inspired, networked, and shaped individual entrepreneurs that have collectively created more than $1.69 billion in revenue and received investment of more than $600 million of venture funding. Between its revenue, venture funding, and wage creation, Pipeline’s entrepreneurs have created an economic impact of greater than $5 billion.
The individuals and companies involved in Pipeline read like a who’s who of the Midwest with excellent founders across the geography. For example, Eye Verify founder Toby Rush is a Pipeline Member. “Pipeline finds, connects and accelerates the top entrepreneurs in the region. These are the folks that will be building and investing in ventures for the next 50 years. So if you’re on the entrepreneurial journey and don’t want to travel alone, don’t miss this chance to apply.” Toby Rush sold Eye Verify for $100+ million in 2016 to Ant Financial.
When asked who is the perfect candidate for Pipeline, CEO, Joni Cobb explained, “There is no perfect candidate. Every year, I [Cobb] am blown away by the portfolio of people that make up the perfect class. A good candidate is someone that is striving to build something of scale who has a little traction and is at the right time to spend a year working with people in a similar position.” She stressed the idea that the application is not onerous and that there is “no downside to the process”.
Other strong performers who remain active in Pipeline include Jason Tatge of Farmobile, Blake Lawrence of Opendorse, Carlos Antequera who sold Netchemia in 2015, Beth Handrigan of Lean Media, Ali Schwanke of Simple Strat, and Jeremy Jones of Nitride Solutions. These Members consistently show up to provide mentoring to new Fellows. And the expectation is that as a Member, you will give back. Cobb explained this: “A good candidate is someone that can be both a giver and a taker. In the short-term, the candidate needs to be a taker because they are expected to learn and grow during their year as a Fellow. But, long-term the ideal candidate for Pipeline is someone that will transition into being a giver. Someone who will learn with but also teach others.”
This idea of giving and taking is one of the core concepts of Pipeline. It is a true fellowship where there are both benefits and expectations to membership. However, the effect on the individuals and companies is unmatched in the region.
“When I applied to Pipeline, I had no idea what to expect. The program set me down a path towards selling my first company and raising nearly $10 million in venture capital to build my second,” said Blake Lawrence of Opendorse in Lincoln. “Looking back now, applying to Pipeline was the best decision I’ve made as an entrepreneur.”
Pipeline is unique in that it does not require an equity stake in the companies formed by its entrepreneurs. The program is built around the individual entrepreneur’s growth – meaning that, while many have a specific business idea, the program focuses on helping the entrepreneurs beyond their current idea by teaching and mentoring them around being an entrepreneur. This explains why thirty-five of Pipeline’s entrepreneurs have started more than one business. Additionally, Pipeline is available for life for each entrepreneur who successfully completes the Fellowship year. The ongoing support has helped many entrepreneurs navigate growth challenges years down the road from their first year in Pipeline.
“I think that any entrepreneur that aspires to build something significant, something of scale, should absolutely apply to Pipeline,” said Cobb during our interview. She stressed the idea that growing big companies requires a group of people with similar dreams and aspirations. “If you are striving to build something really, really big, then the only way to get there is to go along with other people who are doing the same thing.”
To learn more about applying to Pipeline and upcoming events in Kansas City, Omaha, Wichita, and Lincoln please visit: pipelineentrepreneurs.com.
To apply, please visit: https://pipelineentrepreneurs.com/apply.
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