Sprint Backs Pipeline In Effort To Boost Midwest Entrepreneurs

Joni Cobb, CEO and President of Pipeline
Joni Cobb, CEO and President of Pipeline

Pipeline, a Kansas City-based entrepreneurial fellowship program, announced Wednesday that Sprint will become one of its top-level partners. Through the partnership, which includes an undisclosed financial commitment from Overland Park, Kan.-based Sprint, the two will work to enhance corporate involvement in Pipeline and spur additional entrepreneurial programming in Kansas City.

Each year, Pipeline selects a group of 10-12 entrepreneurs from Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska to participate in a yearlong educational program that grooms the entrepreneurs through a combination of workshops, expert advising and access to the Pipeline network. The organization aims to create leaders in business communities and help entrepreneurs build their companies.

Pipeline president and CEO Joni Cobb said the Sprint commitment will allow Pipeline to continue its mission but will also provide Sprint with opportunities. “Because our program helps entrepreneurs a little farther down the line than your average startups, when they exit the program they have a lot of offer corporations,” Cobb said.

Sprint has made a push recently to increase its involvement in entrepreneurship. Kevin McGinnis, the company’s vice president of product platforms, said Sprint likes Pipeline’s approach. “Pipeline is an engine of entrepreneurship for this entire region,” McGinnis said in a release. “Sprint is especially impressed that Pipeline’s focus is on the entrepreneur, not the business — Pipeline is shaping entrepreneurs to be leaders. We couldn’t be happier to be working side by side with Pipeline to grow this region together.”

In 2011, an $800,000 “challenge” grant from the Kansas City-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation allowed Pipeline to grow from a Kansas-specific program to a regional program. Cobb said that while the continuation of the partnership has yet to be determined, the arrangement has proved very successful for both parties.

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