For the partners in the new venture named EvisThrive, the concept of creating what they call an entrepreneur ecosystem isn't a completely new concept. They created and manage the local Kansas City based StartKC program which they point to as proof that a local based, local run entrepreneur program is the best way to build a local business culture. In the past three years over 200 businesses have been through the StartKC program and their business start up events StartFest and GrowFest consistently are attended by hundreds hopeful entrepreneurs and investors looking for the next big thing.
"What we've learned from our StartKC experience is that the leadership and involvement of the local community is critical in creating a sustainable program where new businesses launch and succeed. Like any ecosystem, every component involved benefits and grows together. You can't create an ecosystem that is powered by external sources. No one is better suited to grow a local economy than local business leaders" says Seth Meinzen, StartKC Founder and partner in the new Evis Thrive venture.
Programs for educating entrepreneurs to start a business isn't a completely new concept. What makes the Evis Thrive program unique is the key connection to the local business community. "We found a huge increase in success when entrepreneurs get the benefit of mentors and business leaders that are running their own businesses right in their own hometown. Programs administered by out of town entities just aren't connected with the community and committed to the community like a local leader." shares Robb Murry, Partner in EvisThrive and StartKC. "Our goal was to create a system that would give these local business leaders and economic development teams the tools they needed in a single, proven solution. We were able to do that by building the system based on the StartKC success model." said Murry.
According to Meinzen, the Evis Thrive program has been well received across the state and they are currently in training with several communities across the state to launch the program in the next few months. The first installation of the Evis Thrive program is in the Kansas City suburban community of Blue Springs, Missouri. In an initiative aptly named Grow Blue Springs, the Blue Springs Economic Development Corporation working with a core team of Blue Springs business leaders announced the entrepreneur ecosystem is one of the top three initiatives for their community in the coming years.
In just a few months, the Grow Blue Springs program has led the successful launch of several new businesses and they have connected an entrepreneur with an investor that will create a substantial business in the community in the next year. If early adopters of the new program are any indication of its future success, Missouri could soon be seeing local led entrepreneur ecosystems popping up in communities across the state.