Speaking Startup: Balancing books, business and basketball

Jonaie Johnson grew up in a single-parent household with a mom she describes as “the epitome of a businesswoman,” and Johnson knew from a young age that she wanted to run her own business.

In high school, she hatched the idea for a connected device to enable busy dog owners to monitor and interact with their pets remotely. Now a student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Johnson is the founder of Interplay, a startup developing that device. When she’s not studying or working on her startup, she’s starting at guard for the UMKC women’s basketball team, which she led in assists last season.

It’s a schedule that sometimes means sacrificing sleep, but Johnson finds a way. “I’m a firm believer of, you make time for what’s important to you,” she said.

The latest episode of the Speaking Startup podcast features a conversation with Johnson about her startup’s progress and her experiences balancing books, business and basketball.

Plus, the latest installment of our series on Black farmers looks the impact education and representation have on Black students who aspire to make careers in the agriculture industry.


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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