Why these KC founders say the right time for entrepreneurship is now — even if mistakes are inevitable

EEarly on in John Thomson’s entrepreneurial journey, the co-founder of PayIt realized that no one has all the answers. and anyone who waits until they feel comfortable enough to start a business will be waiting forever.

John Thomson, PayIt, speaks during a fireside chat as part of the Kansas City Global Entrepreneurship Week kickoff

“We are all imperfect, certainly fallible.” You have to keep going and not worry about perfection. Perfection is the enemy of progress. … There’s no right time — it’s just a time to go and go confidently knowing that you don’t have the right answers,” said Thomson, who also serves as CEO of the Kansas City-built GovTech scaleup. PayItat the kickoff celebration of Global Business Week 2022 – Kansas City.

Serial entrepreneurs, well-wishers and future business leaders gathered at Chicken N Pickle in North Kansas City on Monday to officially kick off the annual week-long GEW KC series of events.

India Wells-Carter, Founder and Owner Fresh Factory KCand Toby Rush, the company’s co-founder and CEO Apply, joined Thomson for a fireside chat during the launch event. The trio discussed their unique experiences building a business from the ground up, as well as the tenacity that binds entrepreneurs together.

“Some of you may have heard me say this [before]but I believe it to my core: do it with fear, but do it anywayWells-Carter said. “If you’re shaking in your boots and your heart is pounding and you’re sweating bullets, I take that as a sign that this is the right thing to do because it’s very uncomfortable.”

Toby Rush, Redeem, speaks during a fireside chat as part of Kansas City’s Global Entrepreneurship Week kickoff

Support systems provide a reality check

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Entrepreneurs are bound to make a lot of mistakes, but it’s important to separate the company’s highs and lows from the founder’s successes and failures as a person, said Rush, who has been part of five startups, three of which he founded. .

“Some of the harder lessons I had to learn over and over again,” Rush said. “Being able to distinguish where I get my identity from what my purpose is is one of the hardest things for me.”

Global Business Week

Global Entrepreneurship Week is an international celebration of creators, innovators and job creators who launch startups, bring ideas to life and support entrepreneurship. Founded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in 2008, GEW has since expanded to more than 180 countries.

Click here learn more about Global Entrepreneurship Week.

If founders attach their identity solely to the company, it’s easier to detach from reality, Rush continued.

“Then when the company starts to take off, you start to worry more about the facade of what people think of the company. [rather] than a company that’s making progress day by day or who I am as a person,” Rush said. “There have been several times when my spouse or friends have said, ‘You care too much about the world. he thinks about society and let it reflect you as a person; when in reality you and society are two separate things.’

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All three founders said that building a loyal support system of other individuals—both inside and outside the business ecosystem—is key to success.

“I’ve always believed you need a really strong board of directors,” Rush said. “Because you need people who will tell the truth and hold you accountable.”

Strangers can become some of the biggest supporters, Wells-Carter added, noting that she’s been able to tap into a variety of resources and groups in Kansas City.

“There are a lot of strangers who have been part of my support system,” Wells-Carter added. “They are no longer strangers… They believed in my vision. They have been my backbone and champions and cheerleaders throughout this period. They definitely support me at home, but also here in what we now call our entrepreneurial ecosystem – so shout out to Kansas City!”

India Wells-Carter, Fresh Factory KC, speaks during a fireside chat as part of the Kansas City Global Entrepreneurship Week kickoff

Solve problems first, innovation will come

Entrepreneurs do not innovate for the sake of innovation; rather, they create inclusive solutions to problems that have not yet been solved, Thomson said.

John Thomson, PayIt, speaks during a fireside chat as part of the Kansas City Global Entrepreneurship Week kickoff

“[At PayIt], we are very much focused on the mission of making it easier for people to access government,” Thomson said. “… We only think about building a great company with really good products that bring extraordinary value to the market. Then it just happens to manifest itself in the form of some pretty innovative technical solutions.”

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For Wells-Carter and her selfie studio, she sees innovation as a way to keep the customer experience fresh and new, she said.

“How do we let them know that they are the world when they come in here and experience something they wouldn’t experience anywhere else,” Wells-Carter said. “Innovation takes the form of how people feel? Do they feel included and valued and remembered in our space?”

Including as many team members as possible in conversations will also lead to more diverse, creative solutions, Rush added.

“If you’ve only included executives or the leadership team, you’re coming up big,” Rush noted. “I’m often surprised by people who come up with ideas that I would never have thought of. So wherever possible, including everyone on the journey really instills that innovation.”

Continuing the business is a difficult path, shared the trio of founders. It will take tenacity and ambition, but it will be worth it, Thomson said.

“If you think about [starting a business], do it. Stop thinking about it and start doing it. This community is so welcoming and supportive and you have so many people yelling at you in the first place,” Thomson continued as attendees cheered. “Literally and figuratively!”

Click here to view the Global Business Week schedule.

Check out the gallery from GEWKC’s kick-off event below.

This story is made possible by support from Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundationa private, nonpartisan foundation that works with the education and business communities to create extraordinary solutions and empower people to shape their future and succeed.

For more information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect to www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn



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