Michelle Faits received Pipeline's 2016 Innovator of the Year award at the Pipeline Innovators event on Jan. 27 in Kansas City. | Courtesy of Pipeline/Facebook

Pipeline hands out awards, names new class at 10-year bash



Kansas City-based entrepreneurial fellowship program Pipeline celebrated one decade in existence Thursday, handing out its annual awards and unveiling the 12 entrepreneurs that will make up its 2017 cohort.

The daytime portion of the program was devoted to a pitch competition featuring entrepreneurs from Pipeline’s 2016 class. That led up to an evening gala, where the organization gave special awards to five entrepreneurs.

“I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate our past decade, and launch our next, than recognizing the outstanding growth and contributions of our own entrepreneurs,” Pipeline President and CEO Joni Cobb said in a release.

Pipeline’s Innovator of the Year Award for its 2016 class went to Michelle Faits, co-founder of Pro-Arc Diganostics. The St. Louis-based startup is developing a lab test for patients at risk of Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy, a deadly viral disease.

The award recognized Faits for contributions throughout her year in Pipeline, the quality of a business plan she revamped during the program, and the quality of the pitch she delivered Thursday.

Four members of past Pipeline classes also took home awards:

  • Michael Beckloff  of Silvergate Pharmaceuticals received the Entrepreneurial Leadership award, which recognizes “outstanding contributions to entrepreneurs through the region.”
  • Toby Rush of EveVerify and Jeff Hargroves of ProPharma Group shared the Pipeline Member Growth award, which recognizes revenue growth, job creation and innovation in the last year.
  • Tim Donnelly of SoftVu received the Pipeline Member Inspiration award, which recognizes “outstanding contribution by a Pipeline Member to the organization and the many peers within it.”

Also on Thursday, Pipeline named the dozen entrepreneurs of its 2017 class, a group that draws from five cities in three states. The entrepreneurs are:

  • Iyad Aldalooj of Fairshop (Omaha, Nebraska)
  • Jared Bakewell of Proseeds (Omaha, Nebraska)
  • Austin Barone of Just Play Sports Solutions (Kansas City)
  • Dan Curran of PowerPost (St. Louis)
  • Joe Fischer of Greetabl (St. Louis)
  • Beth Handrigan of Lean Media (St. Louis)
  • Evan Luxon of Esculon (Omaha, Nebraska)
  • Jennifer Rosenblatt of MusicSpoke (Kansas City)
  • Roy Scott of H3 Enterprise (Kansas City)
  • Lei Shi of UAVradars (Lawrence, Kansas)
  • Derek Weber of goBRANDgo! (St. Louis)
  • Elisha Yaghmai of Vigilias Telehealth (Wichita, Kansas)

Over the next year, those entrepreneurs will participate in quarterly training modules and receive access to mentorship and other resources through Pipeline’s network of partners and past participants.

Wendy Guillies, president and CEO of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a backer of Pipeline, said the fellowship program has a vision consistent with that of the Kauffman Foundation’s founder and benefactor, the late Ewing Kauffman.

“It is so fitting that as we celebrate Ewing Kauffman’s 100th year, we are also celebrating Pipeline for its tenth,” Guillies said in the release. “Pipeline and its entrepreneurs embody Mr. Kauffman’s values, and I believe he would be proud of the vision to create this world class program right here in his hometown.”

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