Speaking Startup: A new face at a familiar KC entrepreneurship group

For the first time in nearly 15 years, there’s someone new in charge at Pipeline.

In January, Melissa Vincent took over as executive director of the Kansas City-based organization, which runs a yearlong entrepreneurial fellowship for Midwestern startup founders and a maintains a nationwide network of alumni and supporters. She replaces Joni Cobb, Pipeline’s founding president and CEO.

Under her watch, Vincent envisions Pipeline growing its geographic footprint, increasing engagement with educational groups and dipping its toes into podcasting.

But, first things first. “The first thing is not to break anything along the way,” she said. “We have this great program that’s working.”

Two months into her tenure, Vincent visited with us about her vision for the organization and — as a recent transplant to Kansas City — her assessment of the city’s startup landscape.

After that, we caught up with Kristen Brown, founder of Columbia-based ad agency Hoot Design Co. Brown is trying to help other businesses improve their marketing approach through the use of “brand advocates” — essentially, fictional but specific versions of their ideal customers created to help refine branding.

Brown talked with us about her belief in the power of brand advocates and her plans as Hoot Design Co. enters its second decade in business.

The Speaking Startup podcast explores news and issues important to Missouri entrepreneurs. Find more Speaking Startup on our website or wherever you get podcasts.

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